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Why are high school newspapers relevant?

Kim Harris of Randallstown High School in Randallstown, Md.

Kim Harris
Randallstown High School
Randallstown, Md.

Title: Why are high school newspapers relevant?

Generative Topic
  • Are high school newspapers relevant?
Generative Objects
  • Newspaper articles that deal with uncovering scandals and corruption. Past issues of the school newspaper
Understanding Goals
Essential Questions
  • Why is a high school newspaper important?
  • How can students create a publication that provides students with new information about themselves and their peers?
Critical Engagement Question
  • How can students create a high school newspaper that makes an impact on students and administrators?
  • How does the Hazelwood/Bethel vs. Frasier decision illustrate the power of the high school newspaper?
Performances of Understanding, Rationale and Time Line

One of the main goals of Randallstown High School’s (RHS) Ram’s Horn, is to get students in the school reading the school a newspaper that provides them with insight and information about many of the issues teens face day-to-day. The main way that this can be accomplished is by building a newspaper staff that understands that a high school newspaper, with in-depth and accurate reporting, can impact students, get them to read the paper, and bring about positive changes in the school.

By the end of this unit, students will have learned the importance of a high school newspaper, reporter’s role in providing students with information that will impact their lives. This unit should take 2 days.


Activity 1
  • Break students into groups, have each group generate three issues that they are most concerned about and three issues specifically in the school that concern them. After students have generated the list, they will appoint a spokesperson to present the list to the class.
  • Class discussion about why these issues are important to students, what kind of information they want to learn about the issue and what are the best ways to reach their peers with this information.

Activity 2

  • Students will then participate in a gallery walk looking at several papers that have been hung around the room (only the front page of each paper will be hung around the room).
  • As students view The New York Times, USA Today, a major regional metro and a smaller local daily, students will be asked to list at least three of the same issues that appear in more than one paper.
  • After the gallery walk is completed, a student will be selected to lead a class discussion that highlights several of the issues found and why these particular issues appear in more than one paper.
  • Teacher will then discuss with students the importance of the newspaper. Teacher will also present statistics about readership decline among young readers. Additionally, teacher will present documentation about the Internet and where young people get their news.
  • Students will be allowed to go the Internet and print a page where they normally read news.
  • Discussion will include sources as it relates to the Internet and the additional space provided by a newspaper.

Activity 3

  • Students will be given copies of the Hazelwood and Bethel vs. Fraser cases.
  • Students will read the cases then discuss them. Students will answer several questions that relate to the decisions. The goal is show students the power of the student newspaper.

Activity 4

  • Students will take a poll of one of their classes to find out what sensitive issues their peers feel need to be covered.
  • The next day of class, students and teacher will discuss the issues and ways a school newspaper can meet student needs.
  • Teacher and students will also discuss ways to make the paper relevant to students (exciting illustration, grammatically correct copy and captivating images).
  • Student groups will generate one page of a student newspaper. Students in groups will generate story ideas, write articles for the paper, and take pictures to illustrate the stories. Students will decide whether the papers address the critical issues discovered in the polls.
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