Lesson Plans Archive


  • Advertising sales
    Teaching students that advertising is an important community service; explaining that both businesses and customers benefit and that designing and selling ads requires professional knowledge and personal preparation.D
  • Selling Advertising
    A short lesson plan to start students off selling advertising for the newspaper, including what to wear, what to say, etc.

Copy Editing

  • Caption Writing Activity
    Good caption writing does more than repeat the story; it adds depth. Students will learn that it takes creativity and is more difficult than it looks.
  • Captions: A picture is worth a thousand words
    A lesson about what makes a great caption from the ground up. This lesson could be taught concurrent to a layout and design lesson using pictures and other artwork as points of interest on a newspaper page.
  • Fitting ideas to the space: Writing headlines
    A lesson that assigns students actual layouts and asks them to write heads to fit in that space. Drives home the point that you need to read and understand the story as well as understanding that some layouts make headline-writing impossible.
  • Headline Writing is Hard!
    Students will understand that headline writing is a difficult art. Besides space limitations, it is full of pitfalls that can make the newspaper look foolish. In addition, students will learn to write headlines with these pitfalls in mind.


Decision making


  • Laying Out the High School Paper
    Modular layout is the standard for most publications. This lesson asks students to identify part of modular page layout and then design their own in groups, comparing and contrasting to a known standard.
  • Photojournalism and Creating a Layout
    This unit explores photography and design, asking students why photos are important, what makes a good photo story and how one approaches it, and looks at examples of award-winning designs and photos. Has gifted and special education components.
  • Redesigning The Wheel
    A good plan to lay the groundwork for redesiging your school paper. From comparing good publications to yours to eliciting comments to good design elements to use as you go forward.
  • Redesigning Your High School Newspaper
    An extensive plan for redesigning the school paper that could be used at the end of the year during slack time and as a final exam grade. Also great for generating new ideas for the paper.
  • Photojournalism and Diversity
    A photography unit on learning to use the camera by using diversity as a subject. Explores the kinds of diversity, what a photo story is, etc. Has gifted and talented as well as special education components.


  • Editing for AP (and Your Newspaper’s) Style
    A plan that gets to the heart of the matter of newspaper style. A hands-on lesson (with grading sheet!) that asks students to analyze stories for style errors after an explanation of what it is.

Editorial Writing

  • Editorial Writing
    Students often have opinions, but can’t communicate them effectively. This unit plan will help them improve their persuasive writing skills.
  • Editorial Writing: What’s on your Mind?!
    A unit that asks students to express their opinions in editorials. It asks them to interview people, conduct research and to confirm information before writing an editorial in a journalistic form.
  • Introduction to the Editorial
    A well-thought-out unit on editorial writing that covers research, knowing your audience and errors in logic, among other things.
  • Writing Meaningful Editorials
    How do you write gripping editorials? Make sure the topics are current and that the arguments are compelling. This lesson and exercise will give some other ideas, as well.

Entertainment Journalism

  • What’s a Good Movie Review?
    A five-day lesson that explores all reviews with movie reviews as the example. Uses “Absence of Malice” as the movie to review (with the added benefit of teaching about libel). Asks what makes a good review — it’s more than “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down.”


First Amendment

  • Exploring the First Amendment
    A two-day plan that looks at the guarantees the First Amendment affords, then asks students to find examples of those guarantees in action.
  • First Amendment Fridays
    A unit focusing on the First Amendment and its five freedoms. It asks students to explore the freedoms, ask others about them, and see how the First Amendment applies to everyone — even them. A great opportunity to bring outside speakers into class..
  • Introduction to the First Amendment
    Introduces the five freedoms of the First Amendment to students and lets them see the freedoms in action. Asks them to react/create/collaborate to various First Amendment-related topics, compositions, people and events.


  • Careers in Journalism
    A lesson on bringing a guest speaker in journalism into the classroom. It outlines how the students should prepare for the visit, how to prepare the speaker and how to grade students on the visit.
  • Effective Interviewing
    After having students watch television interviews, they are asked to come up with interviews of their own using open-ended questions and a conversational style.
  • Generating Open-Ended Interview Questions
    Open-ended questions force the interviewee to explain and talk more — giving reporters more to quote. This lesson asks students to interview inanimate objects to hone their skills at open-ended questioning.
  • Interview Scenario
    This plan hones your students’ ability to listen and ask the right questions. Seven role-playing scenarios allow them to ask questions about a news event and write stories based on their questions.
  • Oral Histories of World War II
    A unit designed to introduce students to techniques of transcribing and conducting oral interviews. By interviewing people who lived during World War II, students will gain an understanding of this generation.
  • Out of Your Comfort Zone
    Joel Neden of New York trains students to use their innate skills to improve their interviewing and reporting talents.

Journalism Ethics

  • Case Studies in Journalistic Ethics No. 1
    A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on a journalist’s responsibility and ethical concerns in reporting on illegal immigration, but could be adapted to other sticky topics.
  • Forming a Code of Ethics
    Starting up a school paper, Scholz decided to tackle an ethics policy. A great lesson for introducing journalism ethics.
  • Teaching Ethical Situations
    A lesson plan for discussing journalism ethics. It includes a set of overall goals for discussion and eight theoretical situations for students to ponder.

Journalism Introduction

  • Fact-Finding Scavenger Hunt
    A scavenger hunt that asks students to use research materials properly — from almanacs to the Internet. Can be localized.
  • Getting to Know You
    A good lesson plan for the first few weeks. It asks students to interview fellow students and identify the “false fact” through careful listening and cross-checking.
  • Journalism Scavenger Hunt
    A fun introduction to journalism for students that requires a variety of resources and search techniques.
  • News Writing and Copy Editing
    A brief unit before story assignments are made covering the highlights of reporting, feature-writing, spot news, basic subject-verb-object style, quote attribution. A nuts-and-bolts unit to give a good floor for everyone.


  • Case Studies in Journalistic Ethics No. 2
    A one- or two-day lesson (part of a five part unit). This one focuses on the ethics behind the use of hidden cameras to tape alleged wrongdoing. It also touches on libel.
  • Libel and Ethics
    This unit emphasizes the need to provide complete and truthful accounts of events in student publications. It examines of the consequences of providing false, incomplete, or misleading information.
  • Student Press Law and Ethics
    A lesson to be used near the beginning of the year that touches on ethics, press law, diversity and other fundamental topics in journalism.


Online Journalism

  • Check It Out on the Web
    Students need to know how to find accurate information on the Internet. By giving them the goal of learning about online newspapers, they can research a topic (putting their school newspaper online) as well as use Internet research techniques.
  • Spinning a Web
    A plan to introduce students to Web journalism and how it differs both from print journalism and public relations, with the purpose of creating a school journalism Web site.

Organizing a Journalism Class

  • Organizing and Grading the Advanced Journalism Staff
    More a structural outline than a lesson plan, this gives a grading system and evaluation method for a journalism class.

Organizing a School Newspaper

  • Building a Journalism Team
    Fun activity to be used with new and returning journalism students at the beginning of the school year to promote teamwork in preparation for producing the school newspaper.


  • Effective Photojournalism
    After having students examine work of professional photographers in newspapers and magazines, basic photographic concepts are explained. Then students are asked to shoot, develop, edit and caption the photos for a portfolio.
  • Introduction to Photography
    An introduction to photography climaxing in a photo contest. Allows intstructor to bring in newspaper or other photographers to share their skills.
  • Making Photo Essays Easy
    A lesson that asks students to look at photos as a storytelling medium by forcing them to lay out or create photo essays. What are they missing? What do they wish they had? These are the questions they remember the next time they shoot.
  • Making Photo Slideshows
    Andi Mulshine of Wall., N.J., leads her students through the process of posting their slideshows online.
  • Moving Beyond the Mug Shot
    A short, two-day lesson that asks students to look beyond basic “grip and grins” in their photos. Gives them disposable cameras and demands that they be creative.
  • Photo Editing and Photo Ethics
    Katrina Hester of South Carolina teaches students that just because they CAN do something to a photo in Photoshop doesn’t mean it’s RIGHT to do it.
  • Photographing High School Sports
    Photographs are crucial to an interesting newspaper, but interesting photos — or photos that come out at all — can be difficult in a sports situation.
  • Photography: Beyond the Snapshot
    A plan to take student photography to the next level by examining examples of good photos and learning what a good photo is and how to recognize it, and finally, looking at what a student can do to take more interesting photos.
  • Photojournalism and Composition
    A beginning photography lesson that delves into the rules of thirds, framing, etc. They should be able to recognize composition principles and their impact on photography.
  • The Basics of Photography
    A lesson that asks students to look beyond the content of a photo and examine it for its quality. Photos shouldn’t be seen as space-filler in the paper. Also looks at daily newspapers that do photography well to see the power of photography.
  • The Rule of Thirds
    This lesson introduces the rule of thirds in photography to students and gives them resources to explore it further. They are then assigned to take photos that they think adhere to this rule.
  • Through the Viewfinder
    A two-three class period lesson that asks students to think about photography: What makes a good photo, the difference between chemical and digital photography and more.



  • Basic Feature Interviewing
    Teaching student reporters to develop skills to interview for details, anecdotes and quotes for feature stories.
  • Basic Interviewing and Reporting
    Basic skills are the foundation of journalism. Improving writing and reporting will impact the quality of the student newspaper. With a clear understanding of basic interviewing and reporting skills, students will gain confidence in their abilities.
  • Basic Writing and Reporting
    A unit with four individual lesson plans exploring writing style, newspaper beats, coverage and minimum standards of a staffer, and the importance of editing.
  • Covering a Presidential Election
    A multi-day lesson that asks students to look at presidential debates for issues of interest to teens then research and write articles about what they heard.
  • Creating Hate: The Power of Words
    The power of words is considerable; this lesson plan explores that in the context of hate language not only in literature but in everyday culture. Observation is a key activity in this lesson.
  • Mall Trip
    A role-playing exercise evolves into a news story. Students play roles of mall denizens and interview each other for individual points of view. A teacher-turned-police chief delivers the press conference.
  • Observation
    How to teach students to use all five senses to gather detail for a feature story.
  • Story Generators
    A two-day lesson to get students to think of original and interesting story ideas. First by relating news events to the school, second by asking them to develop questions prior to interviews.
  • Straight News
    A short lesson that asks students to look at an out-of-order news story and put it back in order. Comes with two worksheets on news judgment.
  • Thinking Like a Reporter
    How can story ideas be generated? By training students to think like a reporter — by seeing the potential of stories everywhere and then choosing the most immediate and interesting one.
  • Two Sources of Story Ideas for Our Paper
    Two lessons/handouts for getting students to think like journalists. One asks them to write down quotes — what people are talking about — in notebooks. The other asks them to read newspapers, magazines, etc. for school-specific story ideas.

Social Media

Story Ideas

  • Generating Feature Ideas
    Recognizing a feature story isn’t the same as coming up with one. In this lesson, Elinore Kaplan of New York asks students to brainstorm based on the news.


  • Bringing It All Together
    Courtney McGonnell of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg, Va., uses this exercise to wrap up her journalism I year.


  • Categorizing Quotes
    How do reporters choose the quotes they use? By choosing the ones that move the story forward and convey the most meaning. This lesson delves into that a bit and asks students to try it themselves.
  • Introduction to Paragraph Development in News Journalism
    A lesson to introduce students to paragraphs and their importance. Asks them to look at stories without paragraphs and with them to analyze the most important material. It reinforces the differences between journalistic writing and essay writing.
  • Precise Writing
    Teach students how to choose precise and accurate nouns, adjectives and verbs to create vivid writing.
  • What Does It Take to Write a Good Story?
    By helping to develop and employ good research and interviewing skills, this unit aims at helping students write good stories. Students will be taught some specific journalistic rules for writing — and that the lesson is ongoing (and perhaps lifelong!)