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 twitter.com (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 www.twitter.com/taylorcshaw @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