Beat coverage, multimedia packages and more: The JEA Web curriculum

If you’re staring down an empty calendar for the next few months, take a look through the lesson plans in the Web curriculum module for inspiration and activities to improve your students’ online journalism coverage and practices. Here’s a run-down of what’s available:

Note: JEA member login required to access curriculum.

Lesson Summary Activities and Resources
Unit 1 — What is online journalism?
Comparing Print and Online Journalism A lesson on common differences between print and online stories, coverage


Slideshow and coverage analysis exercise, written response (exit ticket)
Unit 2 — Writing for the Web
How We Read Online Students read excerpts from two articles synthesizing key research about online readers and demonstrate an understanding of how online readers interact with content


Guided reading and summary of findings
Search Engine Optimization A lesson on using search engine optimization to drive traffic


Slideshow, student research, application activity (handout)
The Return of the Inverted Pyramid A refresher on the inverted pyramid structure, an explanation of why it is often used in online journalism, and an opportunity to write an online breaking news story using the inverted pyramid structure


5W+H activity, slideshow, writing a story, group discussion
Chunking, Linking and Liking — Making online stories reader-friendly A lesson on three strategies to make online stories easier to read


Slideshow, reworking a story for the Web, group discussion, story readability evaluation, research a news organization


Unit 3 — Timely coverage
Covering developing stories Students read a series of stories covering a developing story to understand how continuous online coverage differs from the periodical print coverage most high school media staffs are accustomed to


Case study analysis timeline, group discussion, application activity (story planning), presentation
Going live: A comparison of real-time coverage options Students explore three strategies for real-time coverage, evaluating coverage scenarios to select the most appropriate method


Slideshow, quick response, scenario analysis/planning, live coverage assignment, presentation
Unit 4 — Topical coverage
Beat Coverage and the Web — Why It Makes Sense Students explore beat coverage on the Web and develop a beat list for their own campus


Warm-up brainstorm, slideshow, beat blog research and analysis, beat planning mind map, group discussion
Generating stories for online beat coverage Building upon student understanding of online beat coverage, students will generate beat story ideas for one beat


Coverage analysis worksheet, beat story planning sheet, interview with a beat source, pitching a slate of stories
Using Data to Cover a Beat Students read a blog post on using data to find stories, then apply the principles to their own beat coverage and generate story ideas


Group discussion/warmup, guided reading, research using online database, generating story ideas from research, individual beat data planning (exit ticket)
Unit 5 — Planned event coverage, developing packaged stories/online feature packages
Understanding The Why In Online Story Package Design Students will evaluate online news and feature packages to discover the reasoning behind their design and to understand how journalists and editors decide how to package online stories.


Guided slideshow, online package analysis (handout), online package case study (handout), written summary of analysis, presentation, quiz
Planning a Multimedia Package (Team Reporting) Students learn how to plan a multimedia package, then work in small groups to create their own online package plan.


Warm up activity, slideshow, story package planning (handout),
Interactive Alternative Copy Tools for the Web Students explore a variety of multimedia tools and experiment with one of them.


Slideshow, research a tool, present in a jigsaw, matching tools to scenarios (handout), group discussion
Using Data Visualizations in Online Story Packages Students will learn about the rationale for using data and and the possibilities with data visualization tools, then create their own data visualization.


Warmup activity, slideshow, create and manipulate a data set using Google Sheets, use a data visualization tool to display data, integrate data into group project


Critiquing a Multimedia Package Students review the online story package planning questions, assess their own online package and evaluate each others’ multimedia story packages


Online package analysis questions (handout), presentation, written self-assessment

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind newsmagazine and online news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. She's done some print stuff, some video stuff, and some web stuff over the past 16 years as a student media adviser.

Michelle Balmeo has 66 posts and counting. See all posts by Michelle Balmeo

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