Building a Journalism Team

Becky Gemmell
Escondido (Calif.) High School

Title: Building a Journalism Team

Generative Topic: Organizing and Motivating the Newspaper Staff

Overview and Rationale:

This activity is to be used with new and returning journalism students (beginning-level and advanced, grades 9-12) at the beginning of the school year to promote teamwork in preparation for producing the school newspaper. The Granola Bar Relay is adapted from “Banana Olympics” found at I changed it to granola bars to cut down on the mess and expanded the activities to be suitable for larger teams. By completing the relay, students will better understand that all staff members are valuable to the team and that all students must complete their individual tasks and work well with others in order to produce the school paper.

Goals For Understanding:

  • By participating in the Granola Bar Relay, a kinesthetic activity, students will better understand how to work as a team.
  • Students will then be able to make connections how every step must be completed and how every person is essential to the process of producing a school newspaper:

Critical Engagement Questions:

  • What role does teamwork play in producing the school newspaper?
  • What are some of the benefits of working together?
  • What are some of the challenges of working together?
  • What makes someone feel like part of the team?
  • What makes someone feel excluded from the team?
  • What do you want this year’s production team to be like?
  • What can you do to help make the journalism team successful?


  • Divide the class into equal teams with about six students per group.
  • Handout out the directions and allow time for students to meet with their group and plan their strategy. (5-10 minutes)
  • Go outside to a large grassy area and clearly establish the start and midpoints (place to turn around and run back) for the relay course. (10 minutes)
  • Have students line up to begin relay.
  • Take notes on how the students interact with each other (how they work as a team, how the do/don’t encourage each other, etc.)
  • Return to the classroom and debrief. (I like to give the students all popsicles for participating.) Talk about the experience and discuss the critical engagement questions. Point out things people did well as a teams and things the class might need to work on. Help them see connections to the process for producing the newspaper.

Assessment: (10-15 minutes)

  • Have students individually write a reflection about their experience and how it relates to journalism.
  • Discuss further as you move into newspaper production.