Free AP Stylebooks

Journalism adviser Tracy Anne Sena emailed the Journalism Education Association listerv this afternoon to alert fellow teachers that the Associated Press is donating 2013 stylebooks to schools with no budgets or organizations that run journalism camps or conferences. So get your request in ASAP.

https://www.apstylebook.com/?do=donations

The stylebooks I have in my classroom were there when I was hired in 2009. And as some of you might know, the AP Stylebooks are updated every year. So if your newspaper or yearbook staff does not have an AP Stylebook or if they’re outdated like mine, then you must request a donation.

Good luck!

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7 Team-Building Activities and Ice Breakers

This Instagram video shows my students participating in “A Tangled Web,” which is one of the ice breakers they did at the beginning the school year in 2013.

As the beginning of a new school year quickly approaches, you are probably planning your team-building activities for your yearbook, newspaper, website or broadcast classes.

In no particular order, here are a few ice breakers and team building activities that I and the students have enjoyed.

  1. A Tangled Web – I can’t remember where I got this ice breaker but I like the bond it creates among students. I take the students outside and they form a circle. One student gets the ball of yarn and says something positive about himself. He holds one end of the yarn and throws the ball of yarn to another student, who holds a piece of the yarn, says something about himself and then throws the ball to another student. They continue throwing the ball of yarn until each person is holding a piece of the yarn (do not cut the yarn). At the end of this activity, students have formed a web that connects each of them. You can ask then how this web of yarn relates to being on a publications staff or teamwork. Here is an Instagram video one of the students took of their activity.
  2. On the first day back from winter break, yearbook staff have selected several items associated with journalism to create the perfect staff.

    On the first day back from winter break, yearbook staff have selected several items associated with journalism to create the perfect staff.

    The Perfect Staff – This team-building activity comes from Jessica Young’s blog post for Walsworth Yearbooks: “Have students get into groups of four or five. Each student will need to empty the contents of his or her pockets or purse onto the desks. The group will then go through the items and select five things that they can associate with journalism and creating the perfect staff. Each group will then present their five items that constitute the “perfect” staff. For example, students could use a pencil because journalists always have to be ready to write and the perfect staff has members who are prepared to work. They could use a piece of gum because it is flexible and good staff members need to be flexible (and minty fresh).

  3. A Firm Handshake – The newspaper’s last editor-in-chief led this ice breaker that he learned while attending the Asian American Journalism Association Journalism Camp in the summer of 2013. He told the newspaper staff about the importance of a good handshake and eye contact. Many teens give flimsy handshakes, so the students practiced giving each other handshakes and then they each gave the editor-in-chief a handshake so he could approve of it. If he didn’t, the students kept practicing until they got it right.
  4. Using toothpaste, newspaper students write one word that represents journalism. They share their word with the class and then are asked to put it back in the tube. This shows once you "publish" something, it's  hard to take it back.

    Using toothpaste, newspaper students write one word that represents journalism. They share their word with the class and then are asked to put it back in the tube. This shows once you “publish” something, it’s hard to take it back.

    Toothpaste – This team-building activity is one that South East High School journalism adviser Donn Cottom did at one of the meetings of the LAUSD journalism collaborative. Put students in groups of three or four. Each group gets a travel-size tube of toothpaste and a rectangular piece of cardboard (4 by 8 inches is good). Ask students to use the toothpaste to write one word about what journalism means. Once all groups have a word written, one member shares their word and explains it to the whole class. Then, ask students to put the toothpaste back into the tube. This can be messy, so have paper towels handy. Then discuss with the class how they need to be careful to make sure they have their facts correct when publishing their work, whether it’s in print, video, website or social media, because their work is out there, it’s hard to get it back if they need to.

  5. Beach Ball – I got this ice breaker from one of the presenters at the Digital RENOvation workshop a few summers ago. You can get a beach ball at the 99 Cents-only store and using a marker, such as a Sharpie, write a variety of questions on it. The questions are meant to have students share a bit about themselves but the questions can be serious or silly. Examples are: What song would be in the soundtrack to your life? What’s your favorite character in a book? Etc. Students stand in a circle and throw the ball around to each other. They answer the question where one of their fingers (you can decide right index, left thumb, etc.). Then they throw the ball to another student.
  6. Newspaper students play an ice breaker to get to know each other. Each student randomly picked a handful of M & Ms, then had to give an answer for each color.

    Newspaper students play an ice breaker to get to know each other. Each student randomly picked a handful of M & Ms, then had to give an answer for each color. Here, one student wrote what information he was going to share with the rest of the class.

    M & M Chocolate Candy – This ice breaker, which the students loved, also comes from the blog post by Jessica Young. “You need a jumbo-sized bag of M&M candies for this one. Offer the candies to the students. They can take as many or as few as they like, but they need to take at least one. They need to organize them by color and they CANNOT eat any of them. Once everyone has their candies, explain that each color candy is going to represent something that they have to do or share with the class. Red represents something they love to do. Green represents something they are proud of. Yellow is their favorite food. Blue is a goal that they have for themselves. Brown represents an animal noise. Orange is a dance move. For every M&M they have of that color, they have to share or perform the information associated that color. Once they have performed for each color, they can eat those candies.”

  7. Yearbook editors strategize on how to pass the Lifesaver candy from one person to another without dropping it on the ground.

    Yearbook editors strategize on how to pass the Lifesaver candy from one person to another without dropping it on the ground.

    Lifesavers – This is a team-building activity my yearbook editors did at a Jostens Yearbook workshop. I take the students outside where they form circles of about five or six people each. Each student gets a toothpick and they put it in their mouth. Then each group gets one Lifesaver candy. The students try to pass the Lifesaver candy from one person to the next using only the toothpick without the use of their hands and without dropping the candy. The group that successfully passes the candy around wins. I usually give them a handful of Lifesavers or some other small prize, such as water bottles, notepads or other promotional freebies I get at journalism conventions. This game teaches students to problem-solve in order to achieve their goal.

What are your favorite ice breakers or team-building activities? Please add them in the comments below.

 

Affordable Professional Development for J-Advisers

Professional development doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. During the past three and a half days, I attended The Teachers Workshop @ Brooks Institute. The cost of the photography workshop was $35. Every day, breakfast (coffee, croissants and fruit) a delicious lunch were profided as part of the $35 registration fee. There was wine and cheese during evening activities, too. All teachers had to pay for was their transportation (it was a 65-mile drive from my home) and lodging.

We took three workshops a day and all were taught by Brooks Institute instructors. I took a variety of sessions, from learning the basics such as the difference between ISO and f-stops; studio lighting; taking sports action photos and and editing video. Most of the sessions were hands-on and I put together a photoslide to show a few of the photos I took during some of the sessions.

More than 50 teachers, from the high school and community colleges, attended the workshop. while most attendees were from California, a few were from out of state, including Oklahoma and Texas. You might want to get on their email list so you can sign up for next summer’s workshop. Contact them at workshops@brooks.edu.

As I learn about other workshops, I’ll pass along the info.

Creating a Podcast Is Easy and Fun (And Cheap)

Students enjoy hands-on activities, especially if they involve technology. One of the more popular assignments students have in the Journalism 1 class (an introductory class) is creating a podcast. We use GarageBand (which comes free on the iMac desktop computers) to record the under-3-minute podcast. The podcasts are hosted on the free website PodBean.com. Another site you can upload to for free is SoundCloud, which many teenagers are familiar with since several  have accounts on that platform.

I give a brief demo of how to use GarageBand and how to upload to the Podbean websie. Students work in groups of two, which helps if you don’t have enough computers. Students bring their own earbuds and use the computers’ built-in microphones. Sometimes, students use the microphone in their earbuds.

Students produce a podcast twice a year, as a final in the fall semester and as a mid-term in the spring. In groups of two, once students are in pairs, they each select one story they’ve written that semester. The fall podcast is usually a news podcast. This student example focuses on teens and technology. This second student example is from the spring when the podcasts theme is entertainment. This student example features two restaurant reviews and silly jokes.

Once each student has selected their story, the pairs work together to make corrections to their stories, which have been graded. They edit them to make the stories shorter, they write a script (introduction and closing) and give each other feedback on their work. The students practice reading their stories aloud to keep the correct pace. Often, students have to practice reading their scripts several times before they begin recording. Students add jingles and music, so I give them a brief overview on why they should use music that is copyright-free.

In order to produce a podcast, students must have submitted one of the various stories I’ve assigned. I usually have a handful of students who have not submitted any story assignments so they scramble to submit a long-overdue story in order to participate in the podcast assignment. No student wants to be left out of producing a podcast.

Students usually take about two to three days to plan, record and edit their podcasts. This assignment allows students to get their work published and we spend half of a period listening to most of the podcasts once they’ve all been uploaded.

 

 

Survey: Meeting Your Needs

Students view comments from other journalism schools during a gallery walk at one of the first LAUSD journalism collaborative meetings in the fall 2010 at Los Angeles City College.

Students view comments from other journalism schools during a gallery walk at one of the first LAUSD journalism collaborative meetings in the fall 2010 at Los Angeles City College.

Since 2010, a group of LAUSD journalism advisers and students have met on a monthly (or every other month) basis to discuss journalism-related matters on our campuses and offer each other support. For the first three years, a grant from the McCormick Foundation funded our journalism collaborative meetings (paying for mentors and pizza) and our mentors organized the two-hour meetings held after school usually on a Thursday.

The funding ran out last year but we continued meeting with Lydia Ramos, from the LAUSD Superintendent’s Office, who organized our meetings. Lydia is a former journalist and former journalism teacher, too, so she is very committed to the journalism programs and supporting the teachers.

Plans are to continue meeting again this year and Lydia is currently working on a great opportunity for journalism students. In order to organize for the monthly meetings and see what needs journalism teachers have, please fill out this short survey so that the meetings can be of help to you and serve a purpose.

Thanks!

Why Advise?

Whether you volunteered or an administrator or students begged you to take on this position, advising a newspaper, website, broadcast program or yearbook will likely be one of the toughest classes you’ll ever have. But it will be the most rewarding one, too.

There are constant deadlines that your students need to meet (yes, even yearbook has deadlines in the fall semester). You might be criticized by staff and administrators for the work your students produce; either because they don’t agree with the students’ product or there are errors in their work. But one thing you and the adults need to remember is that these are students and not professionals, so their work isn’t perfect. Journalism is a learning process for students.

Your classroom will likely seem chaotic when visitors stop by. But what they will see if they approach students is that it’s a controlled chaos where each student is working independently and engaged in their task, whether it’s brainstorming, setting up interviews, editing photos or video, designing pages or writing scripts.

At graduation, Enrie wore a JEA Superior medal he received for a PSA video he and a classmate created for his advanced video production class.

At graduation, Enrie wore a JEA Superior medal he received for a PSA video he and a classmate created for his advanced video production class.

These journalism classes will be the ones that students remember the most and get the most out of them. They will learn many skills that they probably would not learn in other courses. They learn to work collaboratively as a group and hold each other responsible since it requires teams of writers, photographers, designers and editors to produce a newspaper or yearbook spread. They will learn to be respectful and behave maturely since they are representing the particular publication and the school.

They will learn a variety of 21st Century skills: from writing concisely for a variety of audiences, to producing videos to learning the elements of designing to create pages or websites. Students will also learn to post responsibly on social media in order to share their work with others.

If you take students to competitions (and you should), they will create a closer bond with classmates and you, too. The students will beam with pride when one of their photos, stories or videos is recognized during competitions. During our June 2014 graduation ceremony, the Opinion Editor wore a JEA Superior medal he won for a PSA video he and a classmate created for their video production class, which is taught by another teacher. I’m sure he will hold on to that medal forever as a symbol of the hours he dedicated to his journalism courses and the friendships he developed.

Welcome Journalism Advisers

I created this website to offer support to other Los Angeles Unified School District teachers advising any publications (newspapers, online websites, yearbooks) or teaching photography, broadcast or video production courses.

The first two years I was a high school newspaper adviser, I felt isolated and wasn’t aware of many of the resources (many of them free) and organizations out there supporting scholastic journalism. I don’t think I grew as an adviser until my third year when I found others who helped guide me and shared their ideas and expertise with me.

I plan to post tips or lessons, upcoming events and links to articles revolving the world of high school journalism. I’d also like to make this site interactive and have other advisers share what works for them and their students.

Whether it’s your first time advising or your fifth year, I hope you find this site useful.