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Design review


This lesson provides options for reviewing key ideas individually or as a class to address the main skills and concepts in measurement, design principles, type, color, space and packaging of verbal content.


  • Students will demonstrate knowledge from previous lessons.
  • Students will build on prior learning to prepare for a culminating design project.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA.Literacy.W-9-10.2d Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of a subject.
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.


Adjustable and/or suitable for homework assignments


Slideshow: Review samples

Slideshow: End-of-Unit samples (PDF)

Rubric: Capstone project 

Lesson step-by-step

Each of these is a possible review activity; modify as needed.

1. Class discussion — 20 minutes

Use the Review Samples slideshow of yearbook layouts to critique and discuss what works and what doesn’t in each layout, paying attention to vocabulary and basic design elements.

2. Independent review — 30 minutes

Assign students to conduct a written critique of designs in the End-of-Unit Review Samples document. For example, instruct students to one exemplary layout, one average layout and one especially weak layout from the examples provided. For each, they must evaluate the design in terms of dominance, balance, eyeflow and contrast in addition to its use of type, color and space. This works well as a homework assignment.

3. Quiz — 20 minutes

Reproduce parts of either sample set as a written quiz. For example, the front side of the quiz could include a sample yearbook layout with instructions to label five vocabulary terms (gutter, margin, sidebar, and so forth) with space to provide one strength and one weakness of the design based on key concepts covered in class. On the back side, two newspaper layouts could include instructions to indicate which has more visual impact, which is superior in visual hierarchy, which has better typography and so forth.

4. Practice evaluation — 30 minutes

As a class, use the Capstone Project rubric to evaluate one sample yearbook spread and one newspaper layout provided in the slideshows. Discuss each aspect of the rubric, requiring students to defend their answers with specific evidence from the layout. After going through one sample design in detail and norming responses to the rubric, assign students to select a different layout from the samples to assess using the same rubric. This helps them evaluate designs based on the key concepts covered in class and also helps them prepare for their upcoming projects.

5. Analytical essay — 45 minutes

Assign students to select what they consider to be the strongest design from either set of samples to describe and defend in essay form. The essay should include sections for visual impact and principles of design, type, color, space and overall effect. Students must defend their opinions using proper terminology and specific examples from the design.


Assign students to select what they consider to be the weakest design from either set of samples. Their essay should address three main improvement areas and specific steps they would take to improve the layout. Students must use proper terminology and describe specific elements to be changed with details about how and why.