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How to Make the Most of the Final Weeks with Your Yearbook Class: Tips and Ideas

Updated: May 10

A group of students are jumping in the air

Once the yearbook has been completed, and you see some days ahead of you with blank lesson plans, you need to seize the opportunity to make the most of the time. After planning for the distribution party, prepare relevant, engaging activities to keep the student staff motivated and learning.  The following are some ideas for graded work.

Two students are looking at notes they took on post it notes.

Review the Book

Begin with a book review and practice the critique process together. Divide the activity into two sections: group work and individual work. In the group activities, select a section of the yearbook and go over the structure of how to write a solid paragraph. Use the whiteboard to show the kinds of notes that would be used to compose a formal written review. In groups of 3 or 4, students will collaborate and write a formal review. One student from each group will read their group's review aloud. Write the results on the whiteboard. Please encourage students to use any of the information on the board for their individual assignments. 

For individual assignments, each student will compose their book review. This will be different from the group activity in that they draft an essay that includes an introduction, a 3-5 paragraph middle section, and a closing paragraph to form a complete review. Provide a rubric to outline the guidelines you will require. 

The review must address the following:

  • How important were Functionality, Clarity, and Consistency in effectively communicating the story the yearbook told? 

  • Tell students to cite specific examples, including page numbers, which highlight strengths and weaknesses to support their thinking process.

  • Explain how Functionality, Clarity, and Consistency develop.

  • How effective was the Style Guide? How do you know? 

  • Cite specific examples of a strong use of the Style Guide’s information. 

  • Cite specific examples of less commitment to the use of the Style Guide. 

  • Relate these examples to how the use of a Style Guide impacted the overall visual flow throughout the yearbook.

  • How well did the yearbook reflect the Mission and Vision of the yearbook staff?

  • What were the successes; where were the areas for improvement? 

  • Why were Mission and Vision statements important to use?

Do Over, Please!

In addition to book reviews, assign another graded assignment titled, Do Over, Please! Provide an opportunity for students to REthink and REdo a layout they created. Provide access to their original layout designs and all of the images. Direct them to change any or all of the images to better communicate the story of the spread. Use the style guides and allow students to follow a layout and template assessment rubric as the advanced organizer. The result should be a more functional, clearer, and consistent format matching the yearbook theme and style design than the original work.

A group of students work together around a table.

Practice Caption Writing


Lastly, practice, practice, practice! Give time for the students to generate compelling captions and copy. Make it fun by introducing competition and game aspects to the graded practice. Have a timer or buzzer ready! Project images from the school year onto the screen, and prompt them to write "compelling captions" for each photo. Sound the buzzer when the time is up. Alternate how the students share their captions: free popcorn style, pull names from a hat, create a random list. If you want to make this a group project, create teams to do the same thing, but also develop a headline and copy with the caption to a larger group of related photos. Set the timer for a longer time frame. Award silly prizes - bubbles, sidewalk chalk, $1 store treats.

Mini Book

Lastly, have students prepare a mini yearbook with unused photos depicting scenes throughout the year. This would be a memorable piece for the school to archive and keep! It does not need to be graded but is an opportunity to be creative within the yearbook guidelines.

The goal is to keep students busy, but with tasks that build their skills and reward their efforts. Remind your students these weeks will not be wasted. Let them exhibit their talent and enjoy their labor. Encourage and congratulate them after each accomplished task, and make the focus fun, interactive, and educational.

United Yearbook offers blogs on a wide range of topics. In addition, there are resources such as curriculum, and year-round workshop on this and other areas. Make sure to subscribe to our blog and our newsletter, and visit our website at to learn more!

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Former yearbook advisor, Lucy McHugh

Contributor: Lucy McHugh comes to United Yearbook Printing from a 39-year career in public and private school education. She was a former visual art teacher and yearbook adviser. She received a Bachelors of Science in Art from Columbia College in Columbia, SC, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska in 2000, and in 2014 earned a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Loyola Marymount University. Lucy enjoys her family, making art and gardening.

Editor, Donna Ladner

Editor: Donna Ladner obtained a B.A. in Education and a minor in English from California Baptist University, and a M.S. in ESL from USC, Los Angeles. After she married Daniel, their family moved to Indonesia with a non-profit organization and lived cross-culturally for 15 years before returning to the U.S in 2012. Donna has been working as an editor and proofreader for TSE Worldwide Press and its subsidiary, United Yearbook since 2015.


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