• Have staff members create a spread about their lives. As their first attempt at coverage, design and copywriting, staff members will discover the depth of coverage needed by telling their own stories.
If students are primarily shooting digital photos, it will be relatively easy to include real photos on the spread. Use the photo planning worksheet (GET STARTED-Get Smart) to have students carefully plan photos. The planning process is actually more important than having the actual photos.
• Teach basic coverage the first week of school. Week one of your lesson plans is BASIC COVERAGE. Experienced staff members should work with beginners.
• Expand coverage by completing worksheets in this section. A class-by-class or club-by-club approach in academics and clubs coverage is predictable and uninspired. Work on blending classes and clubs together by covering topics which could include a number of classes or clubs on one spread. By covering “food” instead of Spanish Club, clubs that sell food (bake sales, fund-raisers), cook food (foreign foods, pre-game meals), and eat food (banquets, holiday celebrations) may be combined on a spread that is a gastronomical delight.
• Finalize the ladder for each spread. Once the content of the spread is determined, the work has just begun. The maestro approach combines editors, reporters, designers, and photographers as a team. Each team member contributes to what is going to be said and how it is going to be presented.
• Use the graphic organizers at the end of this section. If the topic of the spread is weekends, have team members brainstorm eight possible things to cover on a weekend spread (jobs, sleeping in, church, etc.) Then take the topic in each bubble and place that topic in the middle of a new graphic organizer. If the subject is jobs, the team will need to come up with eight different types of jobs students have. Tell them to go beyond hourly employment and discussions of minimum wage. Consider household chores and community service as well as retail sales and yard work.
• Finalize spread content. Once students begin interviewing their sources, a definite angle will emerge. Emphasize the process to students. Determining the spread’s primary message too quickly may cause students to overlook other possibilities that may be more engaging.
• Clubs & organizations. The clubs & organizations section contains the stories of both extra-curricular and co-curricular groups at your school. Although it is important not to inadvertently leave out a group, it is necessary to make sure the groups you cover actually do something. The key to coverage is to focus on what the clubs do rather than on who they are.
• Inventory all school-sponsored clubs & organizations: Make a list of the extra-curricular and co-curricular activities (bands, choirs, publications). Share the list with the staff to make sure it is complete.
• Evaluate club activities: After gathering a complete list, evaluate the impact of each activity and determine the amount of coverage required in pages or partial pages.
Going to school is all about academics. The academics section focuses on students’ activities in the classroom. It’s not about the courses or the teachers. It’s about students caught in the act of learning.
• Take an inventory of classes: Team up with other staff members to find out all the classes taught at the school and/or vocational schools associated with the school. Be specific. Leave nothing out. Share the inventory with the staff to make sure it is complete.
• Evaluate your list: After gathering a complete list, evaluate the impact of each activity and determine the amount of coverage required in pages or percentages of a page.
• Group similar activities: For classroom activities that require a page or less of coverage, combine by purpose. For example, the purpose is hands-on learning; the related classes are all the ones that have labs and the ones that require students to make something. Grouped together, these classes would fill a spread with a variety of coverage possibilities.
• Put your list in order: Organize the activities in the order you want them to appear within the section. Then total the number of pages required.
The student life section contains the stories of non-academic events that shape the lives of students at your school. It captures main events such as homecoming, graduation and prom, as well as lifestyle considerations such as fads, fashions and hangouts.
• Make an inventory of school-sponsored activities: Research and make a list, using the of all school-sponsored activities, planned breaks, and scheduled events. Ask the office for a copy of the master calendar to verify times, dates and places. Note testing dates, outside speakers and informational assemblies. Make sure the list is complete.
• Evaluate activities and events: After gathering a complete list, evaluate the impact of each activity and determine the number of pages required.
• Group similar activities: For activities that require a page or less, group them by the type of activity. For example, instead of having an individual page for each pep rally, make one spread and cover them all.
• Put your list in order: Decide the order the activities will appear.
The Sports section covers the entire athletic program including all boys and girls sports at each level. It captures the life of an athlete from early morning practices to pre-game rituals to long rides home.
• Take an inventory of sports: Team up with other staff members to find out all the sports teams at the school. Be specific. Leave nothing out. Share the inventory with the staff to make sure it is complete.
• Evaluate your list: After gathering a complete list, evaluate the impact of each sport and determine the amount of coverage required in pages or percentages of a page.
• Group similar sports: The typical grouping for sports is by season. It is the natural progression of the year and it makes deadline submission easier.
• Put your list in order: Organize the sports in the order you want them to appear within the section. Then total the number of pages required.
Individual portraits of students, faculty and staff appear in the people section. This section can be organized in a couple of ways; by individual grade level, or by category (underclass, seniors, and faculty). However you choose to organize this section, make sure all names are spelled properly and that the name is easily associated with the portrait it identifies.
• Get complete student enrollment: Go to the main office and obtain the enrollment figures for each category.
• Make overall size choice: Traditionally, senior portraits are larger than the underclass portraits. Decide whether or not you wish to keep portrait sizes consistent or vary them according to class.
• Calculate pages per category: Determine the total number of pages needed for each grade level or category. This information will be used to complete the ladder.