Journalism + Media Literacy Class

In fall 2015, I piloted a semester Journalism and Media Literacy class at Malvern Preparatory School. The class is for seniors only, and fills 1/2 credit of English. With helpful advice and support from the English department leader, I created the syllabus, received administrative and NCAA approval, and became one of the only teachers at the school to teach in two departments.

Differentiating instruction in this class has been the biggest challenge. Some of our most experienced Blackfriar Chronicle editors take the class alongside many students who have never considered journalism before. It has been important to create windows for the experienced students to focus on creating their best work, while nurturing the newer writers. The difference between students’ essay training and journalistic writing has been apparent, and coaching students to understand the context for different styles of writing leads to many spirited and rewarding discussions.

The course’s focus is evenly divided between reading, discussion, and writing. Publication of stories created in the class is optional. A highlight of the course in fall 2015 was competing at the Pennsylvania School Press Association’s regional journalism contests — our first experience with write-offs. Two of our students qualified for state competition, and they placed first and second at the state level.

One important highlight of the second iteration of the course in fall 2016 was that enrollment doubled in size and was capped at capacity of our space. Only one of those students had previously published journalistic work before. By the end of the course, all 18 students had opted to publish more than one story; several students had published front-page features; and our editor-in-chief had used the class to develop his portfolio to merit recognition as Pennsylvania Student Journalist of the Year and as a national SJOY runner-up.

Click on the document to review our fall 2016 syllabus.

The images below link to samples of published student work from the class. Click on the headlines to view the stories online.