Middle school students are known to be a difficult bunch, rightly or wrongly. These young individuals are slowly coming into their own and, thus, are more likely to question everything from the instructions being issued to the principles being taught during journalism classes related to the production of the middle school yearbook.
Fortunately, middle school students can be motivated into actually producing a great school yearbook from year to the next. Here’s how.
Give Them Something to Work With
Middle school students have relatively short attention spans that, when coupled with the multiple distractions in a classroom or in the yearbook staff room, can easily translate to undesirable behavior. No, not rowdiness exactly but more along the lines of boredom, restlessness and frustration, all of which translates to lack of good progress on the yearbook.
The solution: Give them more time to work on their assigned tasks in relation to the middle school yearbook instead of giving lengthy lectures. For example, you can explain the principles of design in 10 minutes and then let them work on these principles for the remainder of the session.
Encourage Their Competitiveness
Many a school yearbook was conceived via contests and competitions. Themes, artwork for the covers, and feature stories – all of these can be discovered from the talented minds of middle school students via free-for-all contests.
In the case of the yearbook staff, you can also hold contests for just about any aspect of the annual publication although certain parts should be performed either by an individual (i.e., editorial) or by the team (i.e., marketing and sales). For example, you can divide the staff into three groups each of whom will present their concepts for the middle school yearbook. Everybody gets a crash course on yearbook production while also increasing their enthusiasm for the project.
Provide Practical Extracurricular Activities
Classroom learning has its benefits, of course, but there are days when extracurricular activities outside of the classroom are necessary. Better yet, get the kids on a field trip either as part of their lessons in yearbook journalism – just don’t give lectures during the trip – or as part of their rewards for a job well done. Keep in mind that the production of a middle school yearbook is hard work and we all know about how all work and no play makes for a dull existence.
For example, you can take the photographers to a park where the action is –people and pets playing while flora and fauna abound. You can then teach the photographers how to refine their shots on a hands-on basis. Then, back in the classroom, your next lesson will be on the fine art of using photo software to further refine their shots.
Or you can take the writers to the same park to write about what they see, hear and experience in the area. You will be by their side to explain how best to capture the action and emotions in a scene, which will prove useful when they start writing the articles, write-ups, captions and sidebars.
And of course, you must praise the students who participated in the production of the middle school yearbook at every turn possible. Everybody likes to work in a positive atmosphere, after all.