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The First Couple of Weeks

The beginning of the school year is filled with what seems a never-ending stream of immediate, intentional tasks, along with requests from basically every arena surrounding the teacher’s desk! The first week is a flurry of activities: Back-To-School Night, orientation for new students who continue to trickle in due to schedule changes, managing expectations for students, and learning and applying new curriculum which may be confusing. In addition, the familiar curriculum might need a spark to inspire both the students and the teacher, all while the teacher commits to building community with each class. Maybe the most challenging goal is to learn the names of each student as quickly as possible, a way to honor each student as significant and seen.

Once the clamor and din of the first week begins to settle, the teaching and learning dynamic can begin in earnest. Those first couple of weeks of actual instruction and the topics that are approached with students provide the basic frameworks for the class. These are foundational moments. United Yearbook understands the essential nature of these first weeks and has organized a series of learning modules complete with presentations with embedded video and animation clips, class discussion prompts and guided activities that draw upon information and research furnished in United Yearbook’s Curriculum & Resources, No. 1 Yearbook Basics Instructional Guide.

The objective of the Yearbook Basics Instructional Guide is to lay a foundation by introducing fundamental concepts for the course. Module topics include Digital Citizenship, Journalistic Code, Creative Process (how it works), Assessment Standards, Student Investment and Yearbook Vocabulary.

Digital Citizenship invites the yearbook staff to examine contemporary issues that confront us: copy & paste vs copyrights, digital footprints & social media, content creators & content consumers, and acceptable & not-so-acceptable screen behaviors. This module is especially important to emphasize school and district policies for online conduct.

Introducing the yearbook staff to the greater ideals of the freedoms of speech and press embedded in the Constitution’s First Amendment, and how journalism and journalists respond to the news of the day within that context is key to understanding the value of student voice and responsibility in creating any student publication.

The Creative Process is a system through which creativity is harnessed to innovate, adapt or create a new result–i.e. a series of related layout designs, a new photoshoot idea for a spread, or a way to follow up with a story possibility. The Creative Process is something that can be explicitly taught and practiced. There are many ways to imagine the process, and United Yearbook provides one in this module.

This module examines the reality of student commitment and what provides the motivation. 3 questions are recognized as critical to student buy-in: Can I succeed in what is asked? Do I have obstacles (time, energy, other resources) to that success? Why do I want to do this? Partnering with students and transparency of grading practices are essential to this module.

The Student Investment module begins with the assumption the yearbook is a book by and for students. The yearbook staff develops a shared mission and vision for the direction of the yearbook. This shapes and forms the basis for all shared decisions that will be made on behalf of the yearbook. All credit for a job well done lands with the yearbook staff, as well as any mistakes!

This module introduces the yearbook staff to the language of copy work, editing, layout design and publishing. United Yearbook organized a key subgroup of the larger potential vocabulary for standard use in a yearbook classroom. The vocabulary describes the concepts presented in the other instructional guides in United Yearbook’s Curriculum and Resources series.

United Yearbook values the fundamental work of the first couple of weeks of the school year. We developed these modules to ease the work of teachers and elevate those first forays with students. Please feel free to contact us with questions. Enjoy the beginning of the year and those new and returning students. The new school year holds so much promise for the exciting work you will do together.

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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