about our course

Why Journalism?
Knowledge is power, and so is the ability to communicate effectively about our world and in our world. In Journalism 1, you will learn a lot about what is going on in the world and about how powerful your words are as you communicate about those events. This year, you will also help create the school newspaper, Falcon’s Cry. As an elective course, Journalism 1 does not have a specified state curriculum, but it does support and teach the language arts skills specified by the Common Core State Standards curriculum. My objectives are to teach you to write better nonfiction, to help you become increasingly aware of the news media and your world, to develop your critical reading skills, and, of course, to develop the skills you need to write pieces for Falcon’s Cry. Our whole course is guided by four essential questions: What is the story? Where do I find the facts? How do I best report and write the story? How do I make the story and page easy to understand?

The Course of Study
The bulk of your course of study will be writing and studying writing. In addition, you will learn the skills and laws that govern scholastic media. You will study the conventions specific to writing news stories, features and sports articles for print and the Internet in addition to developing your opinion writing. You will also study the style and grammar guidelines developed by The Associated Press, a professional organization that sets the standard for strong journalism.

You will learn basic photography, the fundamentals of newspaper design, InDesign—the design software we use to produce our paper, the laws and ethical guidelines that shape how we write, and the skills necessary to be a good reporter, researcher, interviewer and storyteller.

Although you will write for the paper in Journalism 1, students who have demonstrated initiative, exemplary writing skills and a solid understanding of the material in the course will be considered position on the staff of Falcon’s Cry. Our staff has been recognized consistently in the state and the nation for excellence in high school journalism. Serving on staff also gives you the chance to know a great group of motivated, intelligent, and fun people really well—without all the sweat of a sports team. You’ll learn skills that make you better in all your courses, too. You will be required to cover school events, and some of these will take place after school hours.

Successful Journalism Students
Good journalists:

  • are curious about the world around them and read a lot. They read other writers’ stories, a wide range of materials,and many news publications. They keep up with trends in the media; not just entertainment and sports news.
  • are always cultivating story ideas and sources for them.
  • save everything and keep their work organized.
  • abide by deadlines.
  • take responsibility for the quality and integrity of their work. They constantly edit their own work, even if they know someone else will read it, too.
  • are honest in their reporting and writing.

Apathy, laziness, lack of organization and dishonesty have no place in the newsroom. Each marking period, you will be evaluated on the basis of your mastery of the types of writing and journalism concepts, your ability to manage time and meet deadlines, your initiative in developing stories, your actual products, and your participation in class. Generally, your summative assignments – tests, projects, and later drafts of stories – will count for 45 percent of your grade. The formative assignments – your quizzes, early drafts of stories, and homework – will count for 55 percent. Your class participation and your lab grade when we have writing and design lab are included in your formative assignments.

Supplies You Need:

  • A three-ring binder to keep your work in. Some students prefer to keep one of those expandable folders to hold drafts, too.
  • A journal of your choice for daily writings/starters. The only requirement is that its pages are permanently
  • A flash drive on which you store all of your story drafts.
  • Of course you also need paper and writing utensils. I prefer a pencil, myself, because it allows me to mess up, but you can choose your own tool. If you write in pen, use blue or black ink. A colored pen is a good tool to have to edit drafts for your peers.

Classroom Rules:

1. Attend class. This course has content that you will not be able to master with the instruction in class time.
2. Be on time and have all of your necessary materials. I expect you to be in your seats ready to work when the bell rings. You should have your homework complete. Tardy consequences follow Jordan policy.
3. Do not cheat or plagiarize. Both carry heavy, heavy, disastrous consequences for your grade, your reputation and your chances of ever being on staff.
4. Leave your food and drinks at home. You may also leave them closed in your book bag where I don’t see them and they don’t make a mess. You may have water in a container that has a spill-proof top.
5. Per DPS Policy, electronic devices should be in the off position and in your bookbag. I will require you to secure your devices in your book bag at the front of the room for major assessments.
6. Obey the dress code.
7. Share materials and help clean up, even if you didn’t make the mess.
8. Behave professionally, and be respectful in your actions and words.

Making up work
Journalism in the real world is driven by deadlines, and when reporters miss deadlines, they throw off the whole publication and often lose their jobs. Therefore, all assignments (including homework) are due at the beginning of the class on the due date. Your due date doesn’t change because you are absent. If you are absent from class for an officially excused reason, check the website or email me directly for assignments; you don’t get an extension if you are absent. If you are on a field trip, your assignment is still due on time. If you miss a quiz or test, you must schedule a morning or afternoon makeup time with me, and you must make it up within three school days. You are also required to submit documentation for your absence to me before I will let you make up a quiz or test. If your absence is not excused, you are simply out of luck.

For Parents
Parents, this course often requires students to work on multiple ongoing assignments at the same time. I provide a unit plan with assignments and due dates for all units, and I post major assignments and deadlines on the board in my room and on the website well in advance, so students should make use of a planner to record them. The order of my curriculum sometimes changes when national events prompt me to allow students to study how the media works as a situation unfolds. Events that occur may cause me to adjust activities I have planned to the “teachable moment.” As part of the work for the course, students will be required to cover school events for Falcon’s Cry, so you may need to make arrangements to get your child to or from those school events. Students will know these events in advance and they will have some choice about what they cover; they should choose what is convenient for transportation.

Course Resources:
Important Texts
Scholastic Journalism, 10th ed., Tom Rolnicki, ed.
The Associated Press Guide to News Writing, Rene Cappon
On Writing Well, William Zinsser
The Newspaper Designers Handbook, Tim Harrower
Inside Reporting, Tim Harrower
Journalistic Writing, Robert M. Knight
Falcon’s Cry, of course
Exchange papers from high schools across the nation
The News and Observer
The Herald-Sun
The New York Times
Shattered Glass, a 2003 film chronicling the rise and fall of New Republic journalist, Stephen Glass
The Art and Craft of Feature Writing, by William Blundell
On Writing, Stephen King

Students will also complete an independent reading assignment third and fourth quarter. They will receive a separate handout including the guidelines for that assignment. My voicemail box is 919.560.3912 ext. 12632. I look forward to working with each of you this year.


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