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Creating first-five mini-lessons for journalism classes


This lesson helps students develop 5-minute lessons that they present to the class during the first five minutes of each class period. Students choose the lesson topics based on what they feel the members of their staff need more instruction on at a specific time. Editors-in-chief, section editors or any staff members that the instructor would like to appoint set up a schedule in cooperation with the teacher to address the current needs of the staff.  Topics can range from student press law to design to posting on the web.  Topics can be pre-determined or can vary based on the needs of the staff.


  • Students will design a 5-minute mini-lesson to address a current issue on the publication staff.
  • Students will create a slideshow presentation that illustrates the concept they are trying to teach the staff.
  • Students will develop an assessment for the class if the teacher wants there to be an assessment.

Common Core State Standards

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.9-10.8 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.SL.9-10.1c Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.


50 minutes


Internet access

Examples: Sample lesson plans

Slideshow software, multimedia projector access

Document camera

Rubric: Mini lessons 

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Explain to students that sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it.  As the teacher and the editors-in-chief see problems arise on the staff, they can address them with these first five lessons.

2. Planning first fives — 40 minutes and continued for homework

Editors will schedule first-five presenters for each day and will set up a calendar that is easily accessible by the entire staff. (Could be shared on Google Docs, or whatever online platform you might be using, or posted somewhere visible in the room). Editors should come up with a list of topics they feel should be covered in cooperation with the adviser. Students will brainstorm topics as a class and editors/adviser can assign students a topic and a day for their first five presentation.

When students attend conferences or workshops, they can do a first five on every session they go to when they return from the conference.  This is a great way to make sure students attend sessions and take notes.

First five lessons should include:

  • A title
  • Objectives/goals
  • Slides that demonstrate the topic you’re covering
  • Copies of any handouts or guides you might need to pass out (these can also be uploaded onto your class Google Docs or any other file sharing system so that students who are absent can access them later or they can easily be found for future reference.)
  • Some simple form of assessment if the adviser wishes
    • This could be an exit card where students jot down what they learned
    • A simple five-question quiz (Keeps that theme of five alive.)
    • A practical example of the lesson that has been taught (like showing the adviser/editor you’re able to post on the website or write a certain kind of lead, or attribute a quote correctly)

3. Presentations — First five minutes of each block as needed all year

Each student will present his or her first five when he or she is assigned.

Topics for first five plans could include:

  • Photography (any small aspect of the topic like rule-of-thirds, leading lines, framing
  • Capturing audio
  • News writing
  • Feature writing
  • Personality profiles
  • Review writing
  • Column writing
  • Editorial writing
  • Interviewing
  • Videotaping
  • Page Design
  • Polling
  • Using a particular social media to cover a story
  • Any aspect of press law (a particular case like Hazelwood or Tinker)
  • Any aspect of AP Style that needs to be addressed with your staff

Your lesson plan should include:

  • Summary of the plan
  • Objectives – at least two things you want the students to learn during your session
  • Materials you need to present your lesson
  • Step-by-step guide of what you will teach and what the members of the class will do
  • An assessment if the adviser/editors decide they want one