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Lesson plan: AP Style

Shortened list of most frequently used guidelines:

  • Addresses
  • Composition titles
  • Dates
  • Days of the week
  • Datelines
  • Dimensions
  • Monetary units
  • Months
  • Numbers
  • Personal titles
  • State names
  • Time

HANDOUT: AP Style quick guide

AP Style Pong

Materials – 20 red solo cups, AP Style question on slides, candy and ping pong balls.


  1. Split into 2 even numbered groups
  2. One participant from each team will come to the front of the room to answer a question about AP Style
  3. If the person answers correctly, gets to shoot.
  4. If a cup is made, your team gets the candy and the cup is removed.
  5. The team with the most candy at the end of the game wins.

House rules
No bouncing
No blowing
No bumping the table
Elbows have to be behind the table when shooting
No touching the ball when it’s in the air
Distractions are welcome
Two reracks per game, taken at the team’s discretion.

Questions using the guidelines in powerpoint. [[[ Slides start on page 14 ]]]


This is a modified version from Joe Grimm’s slideshare.

Lesson plan: Elements of news

Key points: What makes news, news?

  • News judgement
  • Author’s purpose is to inform, entertain and persuade. Journalism informs and entertains, but does not persuade.
  • Fact vs. Opinion
    • Activity where students decide which point is fact or opinion. I split students up into groups and used mini-whiteboards for students write their answer. We discussed why each point was a fact or opinion.

[[[ Slide 9 ]]]

Group Activity on news judgement

DISCUSSION: Out of the seven stories listed, which story is most important? Which story is least important? Why? 

News judgement takes the five news values (timeliness, proximity, conflict/controversy, human interest and relevance) into account and helps us decide which story is most and least important.

Factors to include — how many people does the news event impact? How big is the news story? Who is involved?

Just because a story is ranked least important, does not make it less of a story/not newsworthy. It just impacts less people or other stories are more pressing.

PRESENTATION: Elements of News 



Out-of-class assignment: What is news?


1. “What is news?” Video lesson and worksheet

This video features major events of our time and shows how news affects nearly every aspect of our lives.

You will learn how the Newseum categorizes news stories. You will also explore your own ideas of ways to sort and process information. The Newseum is a museum in Washington, D.C. all about the history of news and media.

As you watch the video, you will learn about all the different ways to report and access news today and about the news stories that have shaped our history, or nation and our world. (Some of this you may remember from some from your personal experiences or history and science classes in college and high school.)

Before watching the video, read the viewing guide worksheet. You should also take notes during the video. Play it as many times as you’d like.

Watch the video by following this link.

Complete this viewing guide while watching.

2. Discussion questions

After watching the video and completing the viewing guide, answer the following questions.

a. Why is news sometimes called “the first rough draft of history?”

b. Are there events in this video that you recognize? Are there events in this video that you lived through? How does the fact that they occurred during your lifetime change the way you remember or feel about these stories?

c. Many of the major events in this video were represented by images. Discuss how photographs and other images used in reporting the news. How do they make a different impression than written word?


1. Create a PROFESSIONAL Twitter account

Having a professional social media account is so important for students who want to land jobs or internships in media or journalism fields. To help jumpstart your social media footprint, you are going to create a PROFESSIONAL Twitter account.

I put PROFESSIONAL in all capital letters because this account is something that you will not be afraid for future employers, internship coordinators or professors to see.

Here you will showcase your work and join online conversations. My hope is that you will continue to sue this account after this class. We will discuss how to use Twitter professionally in-depth next week.

For now, let’s get you signed up! Go to (on desktop or mobile phone) to start your account.

A PROFESSIONAL Twitter account has…

– A headshot (If I took your photo on Monday, you have to retake it on your own or use a photo you already have. I had issues with the camera. Sorry!)

– A twesume (or Twitter Bio) — Follow these guidelines from a Poynter article!

– Make sure your Twitter handle (or Twitter name) is YOUR REAL NAME. Example: If @TaylorShaw is not available, add your middle initial or a number at the end.)

If you want to see what a professional Twitter looks like, here’s my account @TaylorCShaw

2. Send two tweets each using the hashtag #ShawClass. Tell me what you’ve learned in class so far.

Lesson plan: What is news?


1. Ask students “What news stories are important in your life as a Shaw University student?” (Example — tuition increase, a/c not working 1st week of class, )

Write them in a Word document using a projector.

2. After a list of five or so news stories ask the class to rank which news stories are the most “newsworthy.”

Give each student five sticky notes (or the number of responses you received.) Have students number each sticky note.

Ask students to come up and rank the stories — 1 (most newsworthy) to 5 (least newsworthy) [The scale depends on the amount of responses.)

Your result should be that you have identified the most and the least newsworthy stories.

3. Now ask the class to reflect on their rankings and identify criteria they used to pick the most and least newsworthy stories.

DISCUSSION: What did the top three stories have that the bottom three don’t?

4. Ask the class if they think there is a difference between information and news?

DISCUSSION: What about news makes it different from plain old information?

Have class brainstorm as many differences as they can and write their criteria on the board.

Then go back to their list and label each story on the board as either an “I” for information or an “N” for news using sticky notes.

5. Now pass out worksheet and go over the five values that journalists use to decide if something is newsworthy. (Students will fill out the right side later in class.)

PRESENTATION — 5 values of news

5 News Values  [[[ starts at slide 1 ]]]

  • Timeliness
  • Proximity
  • Conflict and Controversy
  • Human Interest
  • Relevance

[[[ End at slide 13 after review examples activity. ]]]

6. Revisit the labeling of either “I” or “N” on the class list of stories and ask students to reevaluate their choices.

DISCUSSION: Did anything need to be changed?

Also, have students reevaluate their rankings- based on newsworthiness- and see if anything has changed.

DISCUSSION: Where there were changes or they had mislabeled a story to start with?

Where can you find news?

[[[ Starts at slide 14 ]]]

DISCUSSION: Where do you find the news?

Pass out newspapers to the class.

[[[ Starts at slide 15 ]]]

Above the Fold/Centerpiece Stories (This activity can be modifiied for homework option.)

1. Discuss places to find newsworthy stories.

Highlight newspaper and where to find stories above the fold and the centerpiece story.

  • Above the fold– in a position where it is seen first, for example on the top half of the front page of a newspaper or in the part of a web page that you see first when you open it. (Source: Oxford Learners Dictionaries)
  • Centerpiece story– an item or issue intended to be a focus of attention. In online journalism it is the story that viewers see first on the webpage.
    (Source: Oxford Dictionaries)

2. Place students in small teams and instruct them to go online and find three examples of newsworthy stories and complete the tables on their “Newsworthy Examples” handout.

Students are to pick their best story example and share it with the rest of the class.

HOMEWORK: Newspaper article analysis 

Choose two stories of interest in Monday’s print edition of the News & Observer.

Answer the following questions about the articles:

  • What is the headline of the story?
  • Was the headline effective in summarizing the story and getting the readers attention? Why or why not?
  • Writer’s name (author)
  • Summarize your article in five sentences
  • What are the three most important parts of the article?

    Class time — 1 hour, 15 minutes

Traveling while black? The Green Book can help

I love learning about little know black history facts.

In graduate school, I created a website about Rosenwald Schools. Never heard of it? You’re in luck. Check out the site to learn more about how the unlikely partnership between Booker T. Washington and a Jewish immigrant named Julius Rosenwald created schools nearly 5,000 African-American school in the South.

My next project is about The Negro Motorist Green Book.

I first learned about the Green Book while listening to an episode of the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round with Heben and Tracy. 

During the closing segment the duo “buys a round” (hence the name) for a person, place, thing or idea. Heben gave a special shout out to archivists and digitizers at the New York Public Library.

The library recently published 22 digital versions of the Green Book, which circulated from 1937-1964. You can check the digital collection here.

 If you would like to listen to segment about the Green Book, start listening at 1:05:04.

So what is the Green Book? During the Jim Crow era, the annual guidebook provided hotels, restaurants, salons, barber shops and other locations that were safe for people of color while traveling.

The book is divided into states and major cities.

I created a Google Map of the Kansas City, Missouri locations from the 1963-64 Green Book.

On Sunday, I set out on a scavenger hunt to see if the locations were still in service or if the buildings were still around. I used Snapchat during as I drove around. These locations were around more than 50 years ago. I had hope that some of there were still around, but a lot of the buildings were no longer there. I did have some luck! The YMCA building was repurposed into an apartment building.

My plan is to create a multi-platform story that combines video interviews with people in the area who used the Green Book; audio slide show of what’s left of the locations; the history of the Green Book and an in-depth map of the locations listed in the Green Book. I would like to publish it on my station’s website. 

I’m really excited to work on this project. I will continue to blog about my progress.


Have I piqued your interest in the Green Book. Here’s a list of suggested reading:


Live on TV and Facebook

Local news stations are tasked with finding innovative ways to use social media platforms as tools to connect with their audience.

  • What’s the best way to share the story?
  • Where is the audience?
  • What are they saying about this?

I’ve been introducing new ways for KSHB-TV to use social media. I work closely with TV producers to incorporate digital elements into the newscast.

Within the first month of my job, our station used Facebook Mentions’ live video as a way to provide weather coverage in a non-traditional way.

(Source: Facebook)
(Source: Facebook)

Here’s how it works:

Many television journalists and meteorologists have been popping up in our Facebook news feed using an app called Facebook Mentions. It allows the user to broadcast live video, very similar to Periscope and Meerkat.

When the app was released in 2014, it was only available to verified pages fan pages.

Facebook Mentions has many features. The most useful one for journalists, in my opinion, is live video.

The reporter grabs a cell phone, opens the app, adds a description then clicks “go live.” A notification is sent to followers of the Facebook page. When they open the notification, they will be able to view a live video. The reporter can then use this platform to share information about an upcoming investigation; hold a question and answer session with viewers about a trending topic; or show behind the scenes of a newscast.

(Click on the image to see the video.)
(Click on the image to see the video.)

We’re live in 3…2…1

In January, our viewing area was expected to see freezing drizzle and a couple inches of snow. This was not a big event, compared to some other cities.

I thought this was a good opportunity to experiment with Facebook Mentions’ live video feature.

I trained our digital and broadcast staff, provided a list of best practices and provided producers a wording on how to phrase the Facebook stream on air.

This was a team effort where the broadcast and digital realm where integrated.

Our Facebook video stream started at 4 p.m.

Our meteorologist, Jeff Penner, answered questions from our viewers about expected snow totals, road conditions and even tips on how to defrost your vehicle!
There were moments during the newscast when Jeff told our audience join the conversation on Facebook.

(Click here to see more on Youtube.)

Our first video was about 45 minutes long, received 140 likes, 25 shares, 336 comments and 7,200 views.

Overall, we got positive feedback and comments like: “I love the behind the scenes,” “very nice idea to have you live streaming” and “way better than any weather app.”

Screenshot of live video from our weather coverage.
Screenshot of live video from our weather coverage.

The last two videos featured two reporters. The second video was about 20 minutes long, with 42 likes, 2 shares and 108 comments and the final video was about 35 minutes long with 2,500 views, 18 likes and 72 shares.


Important news finds the consumer where they are. That means optimizing content for the social platforms they are using.

Social media allows the audience to see and hear what others are experiencing. Instant feedback is provided through “likes,” shares and comments.

Editor’s Note: Live video streaming is now avalible to “regular” use

Work from home? Step out of your pajamas and find a coworking space to up your professional game

Coworking has come of age. Never heard of it? While the term may not appear in dictionaries yet, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.”


Saying “good bye” is never easy.

In a few days, I will be moving to Kansas City, Missouri to start a new job.

One of my co-workers, Trent Magill, made it a little easier for me to say parting words by creating about a dozen Dubsmash videos leading up to my last day. He tweeted out videos using the hashtag #FarewellToTaylor.

The songs he selected are about saying “good bye” or accepting change. The short clips show him holding the phone selfie-style lip-syncing to the songs with me in the background singing along. Some of them even show off our dance moves. The songs range from “Movin’ on Up,” the theme songs to “The Jeffersons” to N*SYNC’s “Bye, Bye, Bye.”





Twitter Polls

Introducing Twitter polls. (Click here to hear more from Twitter’s blog)

Previously, the feature was open to a select few profiles. Now everyone can weigh in on topics they care about.

For poll creators, like me, it’s a new way to engage with our audience and understand exactly what people think. For those participating, it’s an easy way to make your voice heard.


Here’s how it works: 

NOTE: I used my station’s Twitter account to access the poll. I do not have the option on my Twitter page, but our meteorologist Trent Magill could use the poll feature. He has a verified Twitter account. I think that Twitter is rolling it out to certain profiles first.

To access the poll, you must be on a desktop or an iPhone. (I have an Android phone. I haven’t seen any updates on my app for the new one.)

You will see a new icon with a “poll” button next to the “location” tab. When you click on it, you will see “Ask a question” and two options “choice 1” and “choice 2” appear.

WATE 6 On Your Side meteorologist Trent Magill used the feature today during our morning newscast, Good Morning Tennessee.

He asked a very simple question: “What are your thoughts on the rain?”

In East Tennessee, we’ve seen a lot of rainy days over the past few week. We’re expected to see more this week.



The question you ask must be less than 140 characters. (Typical for Twitter)

When choosing answers for the poll, you can only create two options. Each answer must be less than 20 characters.

Polls are active for 24 hours.

How to vote: 



When you vote, the choice you selected will show a check with a circle.



Twitter calculates the total votes, percentage for each option and how many hours are left for the poll.




The Online News Association’s 2015 conference and awards banquet was held on Sept. 24-26 in Los Angeles.

I was honored and proud to have been selected as one out of five journalists for the first ever ONA CNN Diversity Fellowship. The program recognizes digital journalists from diverse backgrounds with experience reporting for mobile and social platforms.

A photo posted by Taylor Shaw (@taylorcshaw) on

We received an all-expense paid trip to the conference to participate in one-on-one networking and mentoring events.

As part of the application, I had to produce a video that talks about my vision for the future of storytelling on mobile and social platforms.

During the conference, I found it to be the perfect opportunity to try telling stories with Snapchat. I used the mobile app’s geo-tagging feature (California has some really cool ones) and drawing tools.

I downloaded the clips at the end of each day to post on Youtube. (Sometimes the sound is out of sync with the video.)



Keynote speakers:

KEYNOTE: We Belong Here: Pushing Back Against Online Harassment

KEYNOTE: A Deep Dive into Google with Richard Gingras & Emily Bell

Popular sessions:

From Scheherazade to Snapchat: Ancient Storytelling Practices that Win the Internet for Good

50 Apps in 30 Minutes (+ 30 Minutes of Other Cool Stuff)

Reimagining Video Distribution for the Social Age

Simple News Graphics for Reporters and Editors

Community Engagement Models for More Inclusive Journalism

Tech Trends in Journalism