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Lesson: Understanding the why in online story package design


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.


  • Students will understand the key factors in determining the plan for an online story package.
  • Students will evaluate an online package using their understanding of the key factors that go into online story package design.
  • Students will be able to identify ways in which an online package could have been more effective.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


90-100 minutes / two 50-minute periods

Materials / resources

Online Package Analysis — Questions and Examples (handout)

Online Package Analysis — Case Study (handout)

Understanding the ‘why’ in online story package planning (slideshow with presentation notes)

“Other than Honorable” Online Package Analysis Quiz (handout)

Online story packages (links)

Lesson step-by-step

  1. Introduction (5 minutes)
  2. Online Package Analysis — Questions and Examples (45 minutes)

The teacher will need to have links prepared (opened in a Web browser), and students should have copies of the Online Package Analysis — Notes and Examples sheet. Alternatively, you could have students set up a two-column chart in their notebooks.

The teacher will present the questions one by one, showing the examples on the projector and asking the questions about each example. Students should follow along taking notes under each question and describing examples in the right column. (NOTE: Teacher notes/lecture points for each question are available in slideshow.)

The teacher may want to structure the lecture as follows:

  1. Present the question to students. Using the notes in the slideshow, describe why this is a key question in online package planning/design.
  2. After students complete their notes under the question in the left column of the Notes and Examples handout, show the first example.
  3. After you show and explain the example, ask students to turn to an elbow partner and discuss the question with regards to that example.
  4. Students share out their responses and use the discussion to fill in the right (description of examples) side of the Notes and Examples handout.
  1. Online Package Analysis — Case Study (30 minutes)

Now students will analyze an online package on their own. Their case study will follow the same eight questions. Hand out the Online Package Analysis — Case Study sheet. Alternatively, students could create the same three-column chart in their notebooks. The chart will takes students approximately 30 minutes to complete, alone or in pairs, for one online story package.

During this time, the teacher should monitor student progress and address students’ questions. Not all questions (like how many people worked on a project) will be obvious, so they may have to approximate or give a best guess.

  1. Overall Evaluation — Written response (15 minutes)

In the last 15 minutes of class, students should complete a written summary to be submitted to the teacher (or in a notebook, if applicable). The summary questions are on the bottom of the back side of the Case Study handout.

In a written summary, evaluate the package. What did it do well? What could have been better? Was it easy to use and navigate? Why do you think the journalists, editors and designers made the choices they did?

4a. Overall Evaluation — Presentation (30 minutes + prep and transition time)

If you have more time, an additional class period could be spent with students in small groups presenting their case study evaluations to the class. In this scenario, students would prepare a 3-minute presentation, in which they show the class the online package they analyzed using a projector and going through each of the package analysis questions. Then, they present their response to the evaluation questions orally.

  1. Assessment — Quiz (20 minutes + homework time in advance)

To reinforce students’ understanding of purposeful online story package planning and design, ask them to look through the story package “Other than Honorable” linked above. Follow with the short quiz to assess their ability to analyze, understand and justify the choices made by journalists, editors and online designers in preparing one online story package.


To reduce class time needed, the teacher could assign the package case study as homework and students could complete it on their own.

If delivering this lesson in a 1:1 setting, students could search examples links on their own rather than having the teacher present them. This would increase interactivity as well as allow for a more inquiry-driven activity. However, this will also take longer to complete.