The yearbook is complete, submitted, done. Now what? You have several months of school left, and you aren’t sure how to keep your students on task for the remaining days. Does this sound familiar? With spring delivery or even summer delivery books where students take yearbook/journalism as a class, it’s often difficult — and even daunting — to come up with creative and constructive ways to use that time. As we all know, doing nothing is not an option! In this blog post, I’ll share 5 ways to use class time after the yearbook is complete.
Podcasts are super popular right now, and I think they are here to stay! The trick with using podcasts in yearbook or journalism class after your big publication is off to the presses is in choosing a series. Another tip is to choose a podcast show or series that has its roots in journalism. We also enjoy podcasts because they are mobile. I grab a Bluetooth speaker with my phone, the kids bring chairs and Enos, and we head outside on a pretty day!
Here are several podcasts I have used in class after the yearbook has been submitted that I think work wonderfully in the yearbook classroom. Also hop over to my free podcast catalog for even more. Search “yearbook.”
- This American Life, Serial Season 1: This podcast series was done by journalist Sarah Koenig. It is a true crime series about a student who goes missing. Grab my free Podcast Series True Crime Listening guide here, and your students will be set. Rated for older students.
- Up and Vanished, Season 1: Another in the true crime family, this podcast is a series as well. In this one, a teacher goes missing. Rated for older students. *Tip: Consider sending a permission slip home for parents/guardians to sign for anything that might be questionable.
- Dolly Parton’s America, Season 1: Whether you are a Dolly fan or not, this podcast is perfect for notable interview techniques, storytelling, and just feel-good fun. As students listen, have them complete a double entry notebook for each episode. This listening strategy allows them to decide what’s unique, interesting, and special as they listen and note their reactions as well. A no-prep double entry notebook sheet is included in my Podcast Analysis Pack for Print and Digital. Rated for older students.
- It’s All Journalism, Beyond the Ivory Tower, Picture This, Grammar Girl, or Stuff You Should Know. These are all content-specific podcasts where students could pick and choose something they are interested in learning about. The task: Write three interesting things from the podcast, two questions, and one other thing you wonder.
Engaging students with something to read is never a bad idea! (You have to know I’m an English teacher, too!) However, you don’t have to be an English teacher to embark on a reading journey with your yearbook students after the yearbook is submitted. Novel selections abound and articles are endless online. Plus, to make your job easier, select a novel or article with a pre-made guide and/questions. Here are a few suggestions:
- Columbine by Dave Cullen- This is a nonfiction piece that reads like fiction. It was ten years in development and researched by journalist Dave Cullen. In it, he dispels the myths that surrounded the tragedy with facts, evidence, and quotes – all while maintaining a safe distance from giving Eric and Dylan the credit and accolades they craved. Its detailed characterization draws readers in from page one, and its complex structure challenges them while keeping students engaged from beginning to end. You can get a complete unit guide here or just a set of questions/answers for each chapter here. Rated for older students.
- Peeled by Joan Bauer – This fictional novel is perfect for piquing student journalists’ interested in mystery, and it ties in nicely with a journalism class. A reporter for her high school newspaper, Hildy Biddle is just waiting for a chance to prove herself as a real journalist. Not content just covering school issues, Hildy’s drawn to the town’s big story–the haunted old Ludlow house. It’s a fun, quick tale that you won’t have to beg your students to read. Rated for any age. A unit guide for this is on my to-do list.
- Legacy versus Likes by Mike Smith – If you’ve never met or heard of Mike Smith, then now is your chance. Mike is full of energy and life and passion. This book, published via his work with Jostens, challenges readers to make a difference in the world. Along with engaging anecdotes and real-life tales of challenges and lessons learned, this book asks tough questions. My students were captivated and convicted by this quick read. The best thing about it for you is that it comes with built-in questions and tasks!
- Article of the Week for Journalism – Reading pedagogy suggests that students are most successful with a text when they revisit it more than once with a different and meaningful purpose each time. The “article of the week” approach does that. With this resource, I’ve designed daily tasks unique to the articles linked in that give students a meaningful and skills-based reason to revisit the article of the week again each day. It’s no prep, and students learn vocabulary and figurative language in addition to the interesting weekly challenges that ask them to look beyond the article. Answers are included. Grab a set of 9 or the entire bundle!
- Article of the Week for High School (General)
- The New York Times also offers daily current events and self-guided lessons of the day. You could mix these up a bit and use their picture of the day as well.
You just can’t wrong with a movie (or two) every now and then. Movies really do provide numerous opportunities for learning, and I am an advocate of using them as a text. I either have movie guides made for specific movies, or I grab one of my movie guides that go with any movie. I like to use movies that in some form or fashion relate to journalism, yearbook, photography, or media. If I have a group of mostly seniors, I’ve sometimes used that to inspire my choice. Along those same lines, it does not have to be a movie; you can also use documentaries. Amazon, iTunes, and Youtube have numerous documentaries that students find interesting. Below are a few that I have on hand for using in my yearbook class after the book is complete. These are all for older students.
- Age of Adeline (Fiction), Photography connection
- Memory Keeper’s Daughter (Fiction), Photography connection grab my free movie guide
- Campus Confidential (Fiction), Journalism connection
- Cyberbully (Fiction), Media connection, grab my no-prep guide here
- The Pursuit of Happyness (Fiction), Connection for senior students
- Searching (Fiction), Media connection
- Ivory Tower (Docudrama), Connection for senior students
- The Social Dilemma (Docudrama), Media connection
- Just Mercy (Based on a true story), Journalism connection
- WACO (iTunes docudrama series by CMT/Paramount), Journalism connection
- Columbine 20/20 Interview Documentary with Sue Klebold, Journalism connection, grab my free guide here
- Any TED Talk
- Mean Girls 2, Journalism connection
4) Sell Books
When the yearbook is done, you can’t ignore the second biggest task of the year: selling books! Whether you have been hosting sales campaigns throughout the year or not, now you have time to focus on it specifically. Be sure to reach out to all students. Develop a plan to contact each one. I like to assign my staffers groups of students to reach out to during our last big sales push. We also do an “adopt-a-student” promo, where we ask for community members to donate money for our lower-socioeconomic senior students to receive a book for free. I tell those students they were given a “book scholarship.” We usually have in the neighborhood of 15-20 books donated. Get the student body “bought in” with these ideas:
- Funny sales flyers in the hall or on student cars and lockers
- Yard signs
- Social media posts (Canva is free for making eye-catching designs)
- Ice cream party for all buyers
- Countdown wall displays
- Cover reveal
5) Plan Distribution
Hopefully, distribution day is a huge event at your school, too! And if not, now might be the perfect time to plan for one. I have an entire blog post on distribution, so I’m going to link it here. Definitely hop over and give it a read. This is certainly an important way to use class time after the yearbook is complete; you want students to be excited about picking up the book you’ve worked so hard to create!
Hopefully, these 5 ways to use class time after the yearbook is complete will help you and your staff make the most of the last few days at the end of the year. If you have clever ways you use class time after the yearbook is submitted, drop a comment below!
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Written by: Julie Faulkner, 2021