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Using the maestro approach


Students will work together in small groups to cover a story. Each group member will take on a different role, and the cohesive nature of this group dynamic will lead to telling a better story from the beginning of the process through publication.


  • Students will learn what is meant by the maestro concept by studying work produced using this method.
  • Students will produce a media product using the maestro approach.
  • Students will reflect on the maestro approach as it compares to their typical production approach.

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.9-10.2 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.


This lesson could be done separately from your production schedule, in which case it could take one or two blocks to work through it hypothetically, or you could use it during your production cycle and tailor it to fit your specific production cycle length.


Slideshow: Maestro approach

Handout: Maestro form

Handout: Maestro made simple

Handout: Maestro reflection

Handout: Maestro on steroids

Handout: “Maestro: Work together as a team and think like the reader,” from Communication: Journalism Education Today

How to maestro – Fitts/Ryan

Rubric for grading work in maestro group

Lesson step-by-step

1. Prior to lesson

Familiarize yourself with the materials/resources available in this plan. You certainly will not need them all, but it’s important to pick and choose those that will work best with your staff. Consider using the C:JET Spring 2003 article and the “Maestro made simple” handout.

2. Building background — 20 minutes

Explain to your students what the maestro concept is and how it can work for your publication. Anytime groups work to collaborate on a final project and each person in the group has a predetermined role increases the chances of producing a high-quality product the audience wants to read. Present the “Maestro approach” slideshow by Fitts/Ryan and discuss how this concept will work with your class.

3. Group planning — 30 minutes

Work with editors before the lesson to assign specific roles and list responsibilities. These could be written on individual cards or slips of paper and passed out to students as they move into groups or distributed/announced in a variety of ways. Circulate as students begin to communicate and plan a page or module based on the roles assigned. Each group should complete a maestro form as they brainstorm together.

4. Work time (length will vary)

Maestro teams will come back together to update their work as the production cycle continues.

5. Written reflection15 minutes

Assign students to complete the maestro reflection worksheet located in the resources for this lesson.

Potential Variations:

  • Students can take on different roles in different groups, thus learning the job description/responsibilities of various staff members.
  • Students can be part of multiple maestro groups at the same time.
  • Maestro groups can work on the same topic and the result will be multiple page designs/packages. The best concept could be published, or the best elements of the different projects could be combined to produce the best story package.
  • Maestro teams can be put together to cover stories for a converged/comprehensive media. The roles on the maestro teams could be altered to include social media, website needs, audio, video, etc. This collaborative group process can lead to the very best way to tell any story in your school using a variety of media.


Advanced students may be members of multiple maestro groups at one time, taking on numerous roles and assuming multiple responsibilities.

Students needing additional support could be assigned the same smaller role in group after group until they master the roles and responsibilities of that job description. Make a concerted effort to match these students with a role that reflects their strengths. Once they have shown mastery, then move them to a more challenging role.