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Lesson Plans

Analyzing Our Past in Order to Build Our Future

Stacey Clark of West Charlotte High School in Charlotte, N.C.

Stacey C.Clark
West Charlotte High School
Charlotte, N.C.

Title: Analyzing Our Past in Order to Build Our Future

Overview and Rationale

Students are not aware of the history of the Mirror (the school paper). This activity will have them trace the history, patterns, and style of the paper over the last 60+ years.

Goals for Understanding

  • Essential Questions
    • How do you identify voice and style in a newspaper?
  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • Into what sections are the papers divided?
    • What kinds of stories are included in these sections?
    • What story ideas are repeated throughout the years?
    • What kinds of pictures are included in the paper?
      • Count the number of group shots and the number of individual photos in each section.
      • How many of the photos have cutlines?
      • What percentage credit the photographer?
      • Categorize the kinds of information found in the cutlines (e.g. description, quote, story info).

Resources / Materials

  • Copies of the Mirror spanning its 60+ year history (placed in stacks of 5 by decades)
  • Multiple copies of last year’s paper
  • Handout of items to be researched and answered
  • Overhead projector

Overviews and Timeline

Activity 1 (One 90-minute class)

  • The teacher will begin by generating a discussion on student awareness of the current school paper.
    • Why are you in this class?
    • How did you hear about this class?
    • Are you aware that we have a school paper?
    • Did you read an issue of the paper last year?
  • Distribute the last edition of the school paper to all students
  • Distribute the handout for recording responses for the research activity
  • Place a handout transparency on the overhead
  • Use the current edition as a model to complete the handout. Ask the questions aloud and have the students find the answers. Record the responseson the sample overhead handout. Refer to the definitions on board: cutline, photocredit, voice, style.
  • Ask the students:
    • What are your thoughts about the types of articles written in the paper last year?
    • How would you characterize the voice and style of last year’s paper?
  • Students will work in teams of 2-3 to analyze prior year papers
  • Each group will receive a stack of 5 newspapers
  • Students are to review the papers and respond to the critical engagement questions above. Responses are to be recorded on the handout.
  • Class will discuss the similarities and differences of each group’s findings.

Activity 2


  • Students will be assessed on the completeness of their handout and the thoroughness of their analyses.

References Recommended

Attach handouts for students, if applicable.

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