Advisers and Editors Center

Creating a Classroom Newspaper

Middle School Activities

A newspaper offers an array of teaching opportunities that fall in a variety of viable career fields. From journalism to graphic design, creating a classroom newspaper can help your students learn valuable skills that can be useful in many different career choices.

The goal is to have the entire class participate in the creation of a single newspaper. This will be a group effort, not an individual effort.

How Long Will It Take?

Creating a classroom newspaper that is incorporated as part of your normal lesson plans will take time. It may be that you use an entire semester to get everything done. Since there are many different lessons that can be taught and many different areas that a student can focus on, we recommend taking all the time you need to ensure your students are introduced to the skills that best suit them.

The Content Phase

This is the bread and butter of a newspaper. Without content, there is nothing of interest. There are four basic types of content that needs to be considered:

For this activity, each student must take their topic and do the research needed to understand both sides of the issue. They are then to pick a side of their choice and explain why they believe it to be superior. Their article will need to include both sides of the issue in some form. For example, a student is assigned to write about which superhero, Batman or Superman, is the better hero. They will need to include the pros and cons of each superhero, but then explain why they believe one or the other is the better hero. There needs to be elements of critical thinking in the argument:

  1. Articles – There are several different types of articles to consider. The most common are feature stories, news articles, opinion pieces, how-to article, and promotional articles.
  2. Photos and images – Each article needs to have an image that gives the proper visual.
  3. Interactive Content – Puzzles and games fall into this category. Anything that requires the reader’s direct participation is considered interactive content. Also in this group would be surveys and polls.
  4. Advertising – This is not a requirement, but advertising is a segment of the content found in most newspapers. Selling this ad space is how newspapers stay profitable, and if you do this as a classroom and sell advertising to local businesses, you could probably get your newspaper printing paid for.

You can either teach each type of content as a separate lesson plan and assign each student to provide such content assigned to him or her, or you can assign only a portion of the class to this segment of creating your newspaper. We recommend the first option so that each student gets a taste of the overall process instead of just one isolated segment.

Obviously, not all of the content will get into the newspaper if you have every student gathering or creating the content, but you can pick out a good number of them that you feel best represents the class.

This process could take weeks to complete as each student learns the process of creating dynamic and interesting content.

The Editorial Phase

Once you have all the content, you will need to decide what gets put in the newspaper and what does not. Some content will obviously not fit the purpose you set for creating a classroom newspaper. In other cases, there will be similar content and you don’t need redundancy. In addition, you have only so much space to fill, so some of your student’s content may need to be cut.

Once you have decided on what will go into the newspaper, you will need to edit, proof, and revise the content to reach a higher standard. To do this, assign content to different students to edit, proofread, or revise. Do not give them their own article or image to work on. Let them learn what it means for someone else to critique their work. Some will be more capable than others at this, so you may need to pass content through several hands and let them all edit and proof it.

Images may need to be adjusted and/or edited as well. There should be a caption that was written by the photographer that may need to be edited, and images may need to be adjusted for better contrast and lighting. In some cases, they need to be cropped or touched up some.

For interactive content, it is important to make sure readers can actually interact with the content to a satisfactory conclusion. For example, if you have a crossword puzzle, ensure that it can actually be solved. If you include a Sudoku puzzle, make sure it is solvable. This step is important if the interactive content is created by your students.

The Design and Layout Phase

Once you have all the content edited, then comes the graphic design and layout phase of creating a newspaper. You will need the exact specifications of the newspaper you are creating and design software in which to create your newspaper.

Here is a list of things to consider when designing and laying out your newspaper:

  1. Don’t have dead space. Fill up all the space that is not considered whitespace. Whitespace is the margins and gaps between content. If you have a huge hole in the bottom right of your newspaper, it will look odd. Fill it.
  2. Use whitespace to create a cleaner, more modern looking newspaper. Don’t cram everything together like newspapers of old. Use larger margins, more space between columns, more space between text and images and between titles and body text. Whitespace can create a pleasing, uncluttered looking design.
  3. Focus on text before images. Images are easier to adjust to a particular size, so put all your articles in the newspaper first. Leave spots where the images will go, but if you need to adjust your columns to add more room for the article, it will be easier to shrink the image than it will be to reduce the number of words.
  4. Be consistent in your font and font sizes. A messy newspaper will have font sizes all over the map and mix and match fonts that never look good together. Have a basic font that you use for all your body text, subtitles, and headers. Use the same font size for the same type of text. For body text, 11 to 12 pts fonts are good to use. For titles, you can use whatever you’d like, just be consistent.

For more help in designing your newspaper, see our Top Ten Mistakes to Avoid article.

Once you have your newspaper designed, you can go to print! If every student gets a copy of the final product, they will have something that they can keep for a lifetime and something that reminds them of the group effort in ways that a report card never will.

Free Cloud Designer Templates

Our templates are 100% customizable, super user-friendly, and designed specifically to help you create outstanding school newspapers with our free Cloud Designer. Below are a few of the 100s of templates available to you.