Bringing It All Together

Courtney McGonnell
Massaponax High School
Fredericksburg, Virginia

I. Overview and Rationale

a. This project is the final one for the year that can show students that they are capable of putting together a small, six page newspaper and to prepare them for a staff position. The purpose of this project is to get the students to put every thing they have learned in journalism 1 together to create a journalistically sound, accurate and attractive paper.
b. This project includes writing, editing, photography and layout. It gives students the opportunity to see what being on staff would be like and helps them decide whether or not moving on to the next level would be for them.
c. Split the class into groups of 8. Each group is going to be responsible for the laying out, writing, photographs and any art they may need to put together their mini paper.
d. They will have one month (allow for a little wiggle room, might take them a month in a half) to produce their paper. They must fill out story idea sheets, pick timely stories for when their paper is supposed to come out. They must assign photos and arrange for editorial art to be drawn for their page.
e. Each group will set their own mini deadlines for when they want photos, stories and layout dummies due.
f. This can be used as a final project, I use it as my final exam because it incorporates everything they learned in journalism 1.
g. Page Requirements: i. Front page ii. Editorial page iii. Feature page iv. Sports page v. Page of choice – sports or news vi. Page of choice – photo essay OR full page feature

II. Goals for Understanding

a. To give students insight as to what being on staff is all about
b. Holding students accountable for deadlines or stories, photographs and designs.
c. Students will see what it is like to have to do everything from writing, editing, designing and collecting photographs necessary for their spreads.
d. For students to have to pay attention to the timeliness of their chosen content and building a spread/paper from the bottom up.

III. Essential Questions

a. What are the most important stories and are they timely?
b. What kinds of alternative copy can you add to the page to make it more inviting?
c. Does the page have a CVI (dominate image)?
d. Are the photographs eye catching, and are they fitting for the story?
e. Is there a point of entry into the page?
f. Is the writing objective, accurate and does it follow AP style?

IV. Critical Engagement Questions

a. Each person in the group should fill out the story planner sheet (see handout) for every story they are required to write.
b. Do a peer review with the story planner sheet see if they can offer each other any suggestions on people to interview, points to make in the article, etc.

V. Overviews and Timeline

Activity 1 (90 minute class)

a. Make group assignments (you can pick them or let the students pick groups) – let them meet and start planning. (30 minutes)
b. Take a break, let them do a little bit of research to look for layouts or story ideas they may be able to tweek and make their own. Also, let them look through The Best of Newspaper Design books by the Society of News Design (30 minutes)
c. After looking through books, exchange papers and have them sit down together in their groups again and start planning brainstorming story ideas – REMIND THEM TO WRITE DOWN EVERY IDEA THAT IS THROWN OUT – NO IDEA IS A BAD IDEA! (30 minutes)

Activity 2 (90 minute class)

a. Have groups pull out their brainstorming sheets from the class before and get down any ideas students came up with after the last class, sort threw the list and start making assignments (35 minutes)
b. Hand out story planner sheets each student should have 2-3 stories. Make them fill the sheet (40 minutes)
c. Peer review students share sheets with another student to see if they can offer any suggestions. Write all suggestions down and turn in to be checked over and handed back next class (15 minutes)

Activity 3 (90 minute class)

a. Hand back story planner sheets let students look through comments (10 minutes)
b. Go through story planner sheets and make photo/graphic elements assignments and set mini deadlines for all photos and stories (35 minutes)
c. Let students start research, interviewing and writing for stories (45 minutes)

Activity 4 (90 minute class)

a. Students get into groups to pick a name for their mini paper – must be journalistic and related to the school in someway. Brainstorm and vote (35 minutes)
b. Get back on or look in the books for possible designs they may want to use for their pages. Dummy layouts to be turned in at the end of the period. (55 minutes)

Activity 5 (90 minute class)

a. Return Dummy layouts with comments, answer questions (10 minutes)
b. Release students to work in groups on stories and pages. Stories, photos, and any art needed she be starting to trickle in for feedback from you. Read and hand back anything and everything with comments. (80 minutes)

Activity 6 (90 minute class)

a. Groups should get together and design their paper’s nameplate together. Using visual elements and typography that are both clean and eye catching. They should also incorporate kickers (teasers) and an index. Have them print it off and hand in for critique. All nameplates much have the essential information necessary for printing a school paper: (60 minutes) ( School name, address, phone number and email address; volume and issue number; date; publications website, if available.
b. Story and design work (30 minutes)

Activity 7 (90 minute class)

a. Students work on story and page designs. They should be handing in stories for their mini deadlines and correcting/rewriting.
b. Answer any questions on stories, designs or photos.
c. It might be worth while doing a mini photoshop lesson explaining how to do cut-outs, using brushes, filters, etc.

Activity 8 (90 minute class)

Let groups work on pages and stories – make them hand something in at the end of every class to ensure they are actually working. You should see progress, and give them “work day grades.” I give 90-point grades each day, which corresponds to the class minutes they were working on the project.

VI. Assessment

a. At the end of the project, let your newspaper staff choose the best overall paper and have a mini awards ceremony in the class.
b. Celebrate with a final/end of the year party. They deserve it if they worked as hard as they should have on these projects. You will be very impressed with some of the quality material that comes out of this project!

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