Janelle Eastridge Bakersfield High School Bakersfield, California Title



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Buddy Bios: Getting to Know Your Classmates

Janelle Eastridge
Bakersfield High School
Bakersfield, California

Title: Buddy Bios: Getting to Know Your Classmates

Overview and Rationale:

This activity is meant to be used at the beginning of the school year as a fun way for new and returning students to get to know each other, as well as a way for all students to be exposed to the basics of journalism, which they will learn more in depth throughout the school year.

Goals for Understanding:

  • Students will be exposed to journalism basics through this assignment, include creating interview questions, interviewing sources, writing stories, taking photos, and creating simple page designs.

  • Students will get to know at least one of their classmates on a better basis and will learn more about the rest of their classmates through short presentations.

  • This is a “learn by doing” type of assignment. Student are not expected to be proficient in any of these areas but are expected to listen to and follow directions, and make an effort to complete the assignment as given.

  • Students will learn the value and importance of deadlines (this being one of the first ones they will be expected to meet).

Critical Engagement Questions:

  • What skills can you (or your) partner bring to this journalism team?

  • Based on this assignment and your limited exposure to journalism, what do you think you’ll have the easiest time with? The hardest time with?

  • What are some of the benefits of working with other people?

  • What are some of the challenges of working with other people?

Activity:
1) Introduce students to the assignment, show them the example you have created, and walk them through the directions. Model what to do for the InDesign portion of the activity; make sure students take notes on this.

2) Have students partner up. I usually draw names from a hat and randomly match students together to decrease the chances of students working with people with whom they are already good friends.

3) Have students create interview questions to ask their partner. I usually give students a list of possible questions to ask, and then we also brainstorm some questions together. Have students write these questions down and think of some their own as well.

4) After interviewing their partner and taking copious notes on the interview, student will write a short biography of their partner. The Buddy Bio should be about 500 words. I tell students that it’s OK if they write more than 500 words, but anything less than that is really unacceptable (it usually means they haven’t gotten enough information yet).

5) Using one of the class cameras or their own (an iPhone would be OK, too), students will take photos of their buddy around campus. After they have taken enough photos, have students download the photos onto one of the journalism computers. If students know how to use Photoshop, they can edit the photos they wish to use.

6) Once students have written their 500-word Buddy Bio and taken photos of their partner, they will create a document (letter size – 8 ½-by-11 inches) in InDesign. Make sure you walk students through how to do this (and make them take notes!) before letting them do it on their own. Students will use their bios and photos to create a one-page layout. They should the teacher’s example as a guide.



7) Have students turn in their completed Buddy Bios.

I give students four days in class to complete this assignment. Our class periods are 55 minutes each, and I tell students they will need to use their time wisely in class and probably have to finish parts of the assignment at home, during lunch, or after school. Students are given the assignment and the steps required to complete it but can complete each aspect of the assignment at their own pace (again, within that four-day time period).


Assessment:
Since this assignment is meant to be used at the beginning of the year, no formal assessment is necessary. However, students should be given feedback on their writing, photography, and graphic design skills; ability to meet deadlines; and thoroughness in completing the assignment. I usually write general notes as I read through the Buddy Bios after they’ve been turned in and then debrief with students as a whole class; I also give individual feedback to students.

Preparation:

  • Create your own Buddy Bio, using yourself as the focus. (See the provided example.) Students love this because they get to know more about their teacher, and they have a visual of what their end product should look like. I usually print my Buddy Bio on one side of the paper and then print the directions for this assignment on the other side of the paper.



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