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Defining entrepreneurship in journalism


This lesson will provide students with an introduction to the concept of entrepreneurship and how it applies to journalism. The teacher will engage students in a concept-formation lesson to help them develop a working definition for the concept of entrepreneurship using real-world examples.


  • Students will be able compare and contrast descriptions of entrepreneurship examples to generate a list of similarities and differences between them.
  • Students will be able to generate and defend a definition of entrepreneurship, based on the four critical attributes, and will demonstrate this knowledge by writing one.
  • Students will be able to defend their insights about the entrepreneurship examples with specific evidence from the text while discussing in small groups.
  • Students will identify examples and non-examples of entrepreneurship, both on paper and orally in class, including public relations, product marketing, branding, digital publicity, advertising, fundraising, and product distribution, but excluding production activities such as newsgathering, reporting, writing, design and photography.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2a Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
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.RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
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.9-10.1c 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.
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.9-10.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1b Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


60-70 minutes


Handout: Classification homework

Handout: Data-retrieval chart and examples

Document camera, computer, iPad, other tablet or whiteboard


Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction and brainstorming — 5-10 minutes

Lead a 5-10 minute discussion about the following question: What kinds of challenges do journalism leaders face in the 21st Century? Sample answers might include declining readership, new technologies, greater access to information for readers, 24/7 news cycle, decrease in revenue, ability of advertisers to reach audience without news organizations, driving traffic to news websites, using social media effectively, engaging an audience, etc.

Write responses on the board, then remind students that high school journalists face these same challenges in their programs and ask: What more specific challenges do high school journalists face that relate to these challenges? Sample answers might include making enough money to sustain the program, selling yearbooks, reaching an audience primarily driven by their phones and other electronic devices, driving traffic to a student news website, convincing administrators that student journalists will act professionally and responsibly when using social media for school purposes, branding the staff as an online entity, etc.

2. Investigation — 10 minutes

After students have brainstormed several problems, transition into an explanation of the concept formation lesson. Explain to the students they will investigate a specific concept to help them solve some of these problems, but the teacher will not reveal the name of the concept until students have identified several key qualities that make the concept what it is.

In order to identify the qualities, hand out a sheet of paper with three examples of the concept. Students must answer questions about the examples with a partner and then the class will discuss the examples together. (See Data-Retrieval Chart and Examples.)

3. Small group work — 5-10 minutes

Students should work on a data-retrieval chart and example analysis for 5-10 minutes in pairs or small groups, designed to give them examples and non-examples of entrepreneurship they can then use to write a definition. Some scaffolding may be necessary for this activity. For example, creating pre-determined groups or going through the examples as a class instead of in small groups.

4. Large group analysis — 15 minutes

Engage the class in whole-group chart analysis for another 10 minutes, including a review of the chart and brainstorming for similarities and differences between the examples.

a. Go through the chart as a class and ask each pair, randomly, to give their answers for the chart questions as well as an explanation for why they chose that answer.

b. Ask students to work with their partner again to brainstorm differences between the examples. Allow about five minutes for this, and follow this work up by asking individual pairs to offer examples of differences for the whole-class chart. Do the same thing for similarities between the chart examples.

c. Be sure to keep this part of the discussion open until students have identified enough similarities to draw out the four critical attributes of entrepreneurship.

d. Write up the whole-class lists of differences and similarities using available technology (ie whiteboard, document camera, computer).

5. Finding attributes — 5 minutes

Use the class-generated list to identify the student responses that most closely resemble the original critical attributes from this lesson plan. Adapt student responses if necessary. Write these four critical attributes on the board (see below) and ask students if they agree that all the examples meet the criteria.

Four critical attributes:

  1. Creation of a new participatory experience or improvement of an existing experience
  2. One or more individuals taking initiative and risk as team leaders
  3. Financing a new or existing opportunity
  4. Inviting others to participate in an experience using unique, tailored methods. 

6. Creating sample definitions — 5 minutes

Each student writes a sample definition for the concept based on the critical attributes. For example, “The creation of a new experience, or improvement of an existing experience, by a single person or group of individuals who take on the initiative and risk of financing the opportunity and inviting an audience to participate and interact with it.” Ask for student volunteers to read their sample definitions. Finally, reveal the concept to the students — entrepreneurship.

7. Review — 5 minutes

Depending on the ability level of the students, take a few minutes to review each critical attribute.

Then solicit student feedback on why each is an important aspect of entrepreneurship. Then, explain they are going to review another set of examples for homework, but some of these examples are actually non-examples of the concept; that is, there is something about the example that does not match up with a critical attribute. The students will work alone to read through the examples and identify if they are examples or non-examples of entrepreneurship. If the example is really a non-example, students should find a way to change the non-example into an example by altering some of its attributes.

8. Work time — any remaining class minutes

Students may work on the homework assignment if time remains.


Classwork and homework may be assigned a completion grade or a grade for correct answers, depending upon the teacher’s grading policies.