The topic I want to develop a lesson plan for is an “Intro to Journalism” class which would be the very basics of journalism for the students who want to take a journalism class in high school or are coming into college fresh out of high school. Some of the situational factors I would have to take into consideration for this lesson plan would be age and situation of the target demographic, topics being covered in the lesson plan, intensity of the coursework, etc.
Learning situation: This class would contain about 20 students and would be lower division class in a Bachelors degree program. The class would be a 3 credit class with coursework that is a little more intensive than the regular lower division classes so as to ensure that students get a realistic and complete picture of journalism before the end of the semester. The class would have a face to face meeting for 2 hours each week in which there would be a mix of lectures, guest speakers, group discussions and classroom activities. In addition to this, the class would be assigned weekly homework that would be turned in the day before class, which would give the professor time to go over the submitted work and provide feedback in class the next day.
Expectations of the External Groups: From this course, it would be expected that students gain a comprehensive knowledge of the basics of journalism. This would be a stepping stone for them if they wanted to take more upper division journalism classes in the future. This course would be the gateway to a possible degree in Journalism and would be the very first course any student would have to take in order to move on towards Journalism major. As a result of this, the Journalism department would expect that students coming out of this course understand the general core principles of journalism that they would later learn the nuances of, in further classes. The expectation is that this class is an interesting and engaging one for students, so as to peak their interest in the field of Journalism and to gain more students as Journalism Majors in the department.
Nature of the Subject: Journalism is a highly fluid field. There is never one right answer as to how reporting must be done. However, there are core rules that are generally supposed to be followed even in a fluid field like journalism. The students would be working towards understanding that these core principles are unshakable and around that is built the constantly changing field of journalism. A lot of critical thinking and student interactivity would be involved in this class as students are tested as real journalists as part of assignments for class. Students would have to find new and innovative ways of covering the same story so as to make it as interesting and factual as possible.
Characteristics of Learners: The students taking this class would be presumably in their late teens and very early twenties. These students would be taking other classes as well and this would be a group of people who know nothing about journalism and many will probably not want to continue with more journalism classes after this introductory course. Students taking this class would probably initially take the class because they enjoy writing and that would be their primary reason for taking a journalism class. However, many over the course of this class would learn to enjoy other aspects of journalism like photography or video editing. The group of students taking this class would be very diverse in their academic and personal interests.
Characteristics of the Teacher: The teacher would be a seasoned journalist. They would be someone who has worked for years in the field as a reporter or editor and know tricks of the trade and real world applications to the theories and principles of journalism. This teacher would have real-world insight to give to the students as most of the assignments and many classroom activities would be created to be as realistic as possible. The teacher would have a great deal of knowledge about his own field of journalism and working knowledge of teaching and how to teach.
Special Pedagogical Challenge: I think the special pedagogical challenge would be for the teacher to break the pre-existing ideas that students come in with when they come to take a class on journalism. One such pre-existing idea would be that if they enjoy writing, they will enjoy journalism. Most students, who like writing, do not end up enjoying journalism because there is no scope for creativity or diversity in journalistic writing which always has to be factual, while using as few adjectives as possible. Another idea that would have to be changed is that journalism is only about writing. There are so many different aspects of journalism that do not get as much of a spotlight and as a result, a large group of people who would not take the class because they think they are not good writers and so they are not cut out for journalism.
Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass