Course Title: Journalism Basics: A comprehensive course on the applications of journalism
The overall goal for this class, as it is named, is for students who enter the class, to learn how to apply the 5 basic principles of journalism that are covered in the course and be able to actually report on news stories and work as journalists. This is a basic, lower division class and so it starts with the basic assumption that the students taking this class have little to no understanding of basics of journalism when they begin the class. This class would be a stepping stone for students who then want to pursue some more upper division journalism courses and would be pre-requisite for the upper division classes.
Throughout the course, peer interaction and feedback has been given high importance to help students construct a deeper understanding of the field.
With the goal of taking students with a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of journalism to understanding and application of journalism principles, the steps the students would have to take through the class would be first to learn and understand principles, then identify and analyze these principles in real-world situations. That would be followed by applying the learnt principles in real world scenarios. Finally, the students should be able to construct effective narratives while applying the principles in real world scenarios. To take the students through these steps, I developed the following learning objectives for the course:
- Learn and understand the different basic principles of Journalism
Since there is the assumption that the students taking this class know nothing about journalism principles, the first of the 4 modules in this class would focus on developing learning and understanding of the principles. This would be the only module which would focus more on instruction. I chose this learning activity to be facilitated through PowerPoint presentations by the instructor as well as real world examples of the principles to increase understanding.
In order to facilitate peer interaction, I chose to have group discussions and reflections as the highlight of the classroom activity. This would give the students the opportunity to interact and construct deeper meaning through peer interaction.
Finally, to test their understanding of the principles, their assignment would be to develop a page of reflections from the lectures and group discussions.
- Analyze real-world situations according to these principles and identify the correct use of the learnt principles
The next step after learning the basic principles is to be able to analyze and identify them in real-world scenarios. To facilitate this, the instructor demonstrates some analyses of real-world examples with the help of class discussions.
After the instructor has effectively demonstrated how to conduct such an analysis to identify the principles of journalism and whether or not they are being used effectively, I chose to facilitate the classroom activity of analyzing news articles in groups. The discussion and peer interaction again, according to the constructivist learning theory, is the way that learners are able to construct deeper meaning and get a wider understanding of the subject.
To test the students’ understanding and ability to analyze and identify the principles of journalism in the real world, the homework assignment would task the students to collect 5 news stories that have been published that demonstrate the effective use of the principles in them. To further test their abilities to analyze, the students are tasked at providing a paragraph to defend their claim for each story.
After understanding and learning about the principles, being able to analyze stories to identify the principles was the important foundation that needed to be created before students could jump into the application of the principles in journalism settings. As a result, this is an extensive module in the course.
- Apply the basic principles of journalism in real-world scenarios
This is possibly the most important module of the course. In this module, students learn to apply the principles they have learnt so far, in actual journalism related activities and exercises.
This, being the most important aspect of the course, I elected to also make it the most engaging. With a series of mock scenarios, role playing and fast paced activities, I wanted to ensure that the students are able to get a feel for real-world application of the learnt principles.
This module does not focus on instruction. Instead, it focuses on peer interactions and discussions in class to develop understanding of how to effectively apply the learnt principles.
- Construct effective narratives following the learnt principles of journalism
This is the final module in the course. The students by this point should have learnt about the journalism principles and how to identify its correct use. They should also be able to apply these principles in reporting activities. The final task is to be able to construct effective narratives on their own while applying the learnt principles of journalism. For this module, the students have to go out and find a story that they think needs telling. Then while applying what they have learnt, they have to create a news package and present it to the class. This assignment also requires peer assessment and feedback at the end of it.
My focus in this lesson plan was to develop a highly engaging class that would promote peer interaction and help them construct deeper understanding of the journalism principles and how to apply them.