Teaching Journalism: 5 Journalism Lessons and Activities

5 of the First Activities and Lessons for Journalism Class

You and your students will absolutely love these journalism lessons! The beginning of a new school year can be hectic for journalism teachers who are tasked with simultaneously teaching new journalism students who don’t have any journalism experience while also planning and publishing content for the school newspaper.

If your class is anything like mine, it is a mix of returning and new students. This year, I only have three returning students, so it is almost like I am starting entirely from scratch.

Teaching Journalism: 5 Journalism Lessons and Activities

Here are 5 journalism lessons to teach at the beginning of the year

1. Staff Interview Activity

One of the very first assignments I have my students do is partner up with a fellow staff member that they don’t know and interview them. This activity works on two things: first, it helps the class get to know one another. Secondly, it helps students proactive their interviewing skills in a low-stakes environment.

For this activity, I have students come up with 10 interview questions, interview one another and do a quick write-up so that students can have practice recording their interviews.

Before this activity, I go over interviewing skills with my students. We discuss the dos and don’ts of interviewing, we brainstorm good interviewing questions, and we talk about the need to go beyond simple answer questions.

2. Staff Bio

Another great activity for the beginning of the year is to have students write their staff bio. This provides students with an opportunity to write in the third person while also providing the most important information.

For my staff bios, I give students 80-100 words. I have them write their bios in the third person and in the present tense.

3. Collaborative News Story

For our first news story of the school year, I like to write one collaboratively as a staff. We go over the basics of journalism writing and then write together in one Google Doc. I do this as a learning activity so that new staff can see how we write journalistically. First, I have students work together in small groups to write the lead. Then, as a class, we craft one together. From there, we move on to building the story.

As we write the story, as a staff, we can then see what kind of information we need. I assign small groups of students to interview people and find quotes. Those groups then add that information to the story.

Once it is written, we edit and review the story together before it is published. This activity is particularly helpful because students get to see how we format quotes in our stories, how we refer to students and teachers in our stories, and how we go about the news-gathering process.

Once our collaborative story is done, new staff then have the green light to begin writing their own stories.

4. The News Determinants

News determinants teaching lesson Before students begin pitching their own stories for the school paper, they have to have a good understanding of what makes something newsworthy. I like to teach my News Determinants lesson so that students know what makes something newsworthy. When students consider what makes potential stories newsworthy, the story pitching process runs a lot smoother.

You can also read more in-depth about the news determinants with this blog post about teaching the five news determinants.

5. AP Style Writing Teaching AP Style

As students are writing their first stories, I like to teach students about AP Style. I use this instructional presentation, and students assemble their AP Style mini flip books that they use as a reference all year long.

The news determinants and AP Style lessons are included in my journalism curriculum with many other resources that will make teaching and advising the middle school or high school newspaper much easier.

5 of the First Activities and Lessons for Journalism Class



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