3 fun activities to teach the history of journalism

You hate it… Your kids hate it… droning on through a slideshow while your students take notes is a SNOOZEFEST. For both of you. 

Not to mention, it’s hard to retain information when you’re focused on frantically writing down notes. It’s easier for students to grasp information (and actually retain it) if they’re given an opportunity to interact with it.

That said, it can be challenging to find ways to make teaching the history of journalism interesting and engaging. With hands-on learning, students have a chance to be creative and tactical – which usually helps information stick in their memory.

Here are 3 activities to teach the history of journalism.


timeline slides

You can present these and go over details like a normal slideshow, or have them complete their own timeline as you go along. 

1. Build Your Own Timeline

Have them add this into their notebook, or just create on paper.

Pages 1 & 2
Make a copy of both pages for each student. They are to cutout the timeline and each event. The arrow helps indicate which side of the timeline it will go on, and they alternate, but you can save that info as a hint if they start struggling. 

Page 3 & 4
This is the key. The pink highlighted events indicate a major milestone, something you may want to have them explore at depth. 

2. mock courtroom

This activity is from the media literacy unit from uscourts.gov. 

“Students will be able to apply the Supreme Court precedent set in Tinker v. Des Moines to a fictional, contemporary scenario. They will practice civil discourse skills to explore the tensions between students’ interests in free speech and expression on campus and their school’s interests in maintaining an orderly learning environment. They will have the opportunity to find common ground and come up with compromises.”

The link below includes additional teaching resources (& they’re great, too!), but the mock court room is on page 10 of the download. (The link to download is on the top right of the page.)

3. Court Cases Mini-Poster

This can be an individual project, or you can break into small groups. Students will make a mini-poster (it can be any size, but I just had them make it on computer paper) with their assigned court case. 

“You never really know something until you teach it to someone else.”

The next day, the small groups teach the class about their specific case. 

PRO TIP: Take a photo of the poster so you can project it on the screen for the class to see. (Also an easy way to have them turn it in to you.)

Show Examples!

Participate in your student’s projects to show them an example, set expectations, and work alongside them on their level… it’s way more fun than hovering awkwardly or being at your computer the entire time. 😉

RELATED resources

The following links are related resources that you may find helpful.

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