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Creating a mentoring program and a middle school journalism workshop


Students will set up a mentoring program with the local middle and or elementary schools and then will design an after-school program that introduces younger students to the high school program and gives them an overview of the different elements of journalism.


  • Students will research the components of a strong mentoring program.
  • Students will design a mentoring model that works for younger students interested in journalism.
  • Students will create an after-school journalism workshop for younger students.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Four 50-minute classes


Internet access

Sample lesson plans

Rubric: Middle school mentoring

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Explain to students that in order for a journalism program to continue to grow, there has to be some sort of connection or recruiting model with younger students in your school system. Today we will research how various mentoring programs work, develop a mentoring program for younger students in our school system and design a multi-week after-school program/workshop for middle or elementary school students.

2. Research — 40 minutes and continued for homework

Students will use the Internet to research active mentoring programs around the country (these could be journalism related or not). They will develop a list of qualities/elements they discover in different mentoring programs and prepare to share them with the class. Students should present these qualities both verbally and visually (i.e. using a chart or other graphic organizer).

More specifically:

– Students should try to find at least 10 different characteristics of solid mentoring programs

– Students should cite their sources and should document characteristics that reoccur in multiple mentoring programs that they discover

3. Presentations — two class blocks (50 minutes each)

Each student will present what he or she has learned from their research on mentoring programs.  On the whiteboard or multimedia projector, one person should list all the characteristics that are presented and star ones that are listed repeatedly.  This should allow students to see common characteristics that appear from different sources multiple times.

Essential questions you should ask and answer together:

  • Why do we want to begin a mentoring program?
  • Who do we need to contact at our feeder schools to get this program started?
  • What do we want to do once we’ve made that contact?
  • Possible ideas that could come from a mentoring relationship:
    • Going to the feeder school to work with selected students to start a newspaper, yearbook, broadcast, website, lit mag at the feeder school
    • Going to the feeder school to give a presentation about your publication or media or to give a specific presentation on a type of writing, design, photography, interviewing, etc.
    • Taking some younger students along to a state, regional or national journalism convention where mentors take their mentees to different classes/workshops with them
    • Designing an after-school program where the younger children come to your school to learn about different aspects of your media program

4. Follow-up — one class block (50 minutes)

Using the data that was presented in the last class block, create a lesson plan for one day of instruction at an after-school journalism workshop for middle/elementary school students that will be held at your building.  Depending on how many students you have in your class and how many after-school sessions you want to hold, you can have students do this individually or in small groups.  Once their plans are created, you can extend invitations to the middle/elementary school students, have them sign up and actually run this program.

Topics for groups to design plans around could include:

–       Photography

–       Creating a slide show

–       Capturing audio

–       News writing

–       Feature writing

–       Personality profiles

–       Review writing

–       Column writing

–       Editorial writing

–       Interviewing

–       Videotaping

–       Page design

–       Polling

–       Using social media in journalism

Your lesson plan should include:

  • Summary of the plan
  • Objectives – at least three things you want the students to learn during your session
  • Materials you need to present your lesson
  • Step-by-step guide to what you will teach and what your young students will do
  •  A fun game or review activity for the students
  • A model of the idea you’re trying to teach from a professional source or a good scholastic example
  • A homework assignment for the students
  • Some type of tangible product that can be published

5. Combining best ideas from all presentations — one class block (50 minutes)

Looking at all the proposals during this class block, we will decide as a class what ideas we like best and will design our complete after-school program based on the great lesson plans the class develops.

You may wish to send this list of suggestions to your editorial board for approval and later implementation.