Extended Projects



Adviser Holly Dutcher from Lecanto (FL) HS created a theme packet project for her staff. Students brainstorm ideas, narrow down their ideas to three, have a brief class discussion, choose one idea, and develop that idea with designs and opening copy before they create a theme presentation.

See her packet here.

Collecting ideas for next year

In a normal year, this exercise might have begun with small groups before larger groups delved into lengthier theme packets, but the search for fresh ideas and inspiration can begin as a personal quest — and, this year, that’s probably the best idea. It might be that you later have the staff collaborate in small groups and make some choices as they move toward a group decision, but there’s no such thing as too many great ideas or too many people imagining possibilities at the start. Of course, the staff will need to limit its choices before you head into production.

In this project, students will collect examples they like in prescribed categories en route to staff theme selection. In addition, you may choose to assign the theme, coverage and visual wow videos on the Videos & Podcasts page to help the staffers make more informed decisions.

All the materials the students need to complete the process are in the folder — the HJ theme list, a PDF of the fonts booklet from the kit and other planners listing helpful options. And, there are two versions: one for books with traditional sections and the other for books with chronological or umbrella coverage.

Because workload expectations vary from area to area, there’s no easy way to estimate an average time requirement for the packet. And, adding the seven short videos would both increase the information students received and time spent completing the packets.

This project will have students seek inspiration and make some personal choices regarding:

  • Theme Ideas
  • Cover Inspiration
  • Color
  • Fonts
  • Headline Design
  • Coverage Strategies
  • Mod Ideas
  • Coverage Topics
  • Profile Designs
  • Coverage Page Design
  • Scoreboard Inspiration
  • Interrupter (Feature) Design
  • Infographics



Adviser Jenny Parsons created this form for her students at Greenfield Jr. HS in Gilbert, AZ, to use when they complete the project described above. The project is one used by the reps in the Phoenix area, so Parsons anticipated the need and created the template to house the students’ responses and explanations as well as the inspirations they collected.

See her form here.

Weekly Lesson Plans

There are so many ways to use this content. You might choose to present the PowerPoint (we also provided a PDF version in case you’re not a PowerPoint user). The notes and captions appear right on the slides with images, so there’s no memorization involved. You could invite the class to a Zoom Room or other group meeting and present the show to the entire staff at once. Some advisers opt to have the students consume the information independently — and that’s effective as well. Another option would be to have either a senior editor or a rising leader take ownership of the instruction and present at a specific time. Most online group meetings have the option to record the presentation so that students who miss the group call would not miss the information.

It’s also up to you whether and how you use the quizzes. Some staffs complete the worksheets as answers are provided and others quiz afterward. Decide what’s best for you and your team.

While these lessons lead to practical assignments for the staffers, some staffs will combine several more practical, fun or reflective assignments with these more traditional learning activities each week.

The six topics covered in this grouping include the following:

  • Cameras & Photos
  • Covering Your School
  • Introduction to Journalism
  • Layout & Design
  • Reporting & Writing
  • Theme & Voice