Four guiding questions to use takeover stories for development, reflection

Much like the newsroom feature on this site, JEA’s Teacher Takeover series provides an easily accessible, free snapshot of student media programs across the country.

The weekly takeover feature, coordinated by Publications/PR Chair Evelyn Lauer, MJE, relies on adviser volunteers posting a story on JEA’s Instagram throughout their school day.

Users can follow in real-time, but each Tuesday’s story also is archived on @journalismeducation and visible in the Story Highlights area below the profile photo.

While it’s fun to watch as a way to feel a long-distance connection to other advisers, it also can work as an assignment or enrichment activity for journalism students. For example, we tried it in December as a leadership exercise for editors using four guiding questions:

  • What stood out?
  • How does something here affirm or echo your own experience?
  • What questions do you want to follow up on?
  • Which ideas can you apply to improve our program?

Some takeaways were almost immediate. For example, a few days after seeing the simple Post-it note distribution method Mitch Ziegler, CJE, shared for The High Tide, editors tried a similar approach for their December issue of The Roar.

Above: In the Dec. 11 Instagram story, adviser Mitch Ziegler, CJE, explains his staff’s newspaper distribution method. Below: After seeing the idea, staff members from Whitney High Student Media apply the same strategy Dec. 20.

Other observations students shared after watching the takeover stories led to comparisons about deadline tracking and how/where work in progress is posted around the room. The quote book posted by Leland Mallett, CJE, from Legacy Student Media gave editors something to discuss as well.

Another benefit from the Teacher Takeover series is the exposure to other student media accounts, as advisers often tag or mention their students’ handles in the Instagram story. As a result, students watching these takeover stories can add to their follow lists or widen their virtual PLCs on their own.

If you’re more geared toward making connections to the social media skills specifically, try this related activity instead, which invites students to plan their own Instagram story using a storyboard graphic organizer.

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