One Story Lesson Plan: Making Editorial Decisions

January 20, 2015 at 5:08 pm


Making Editorial Decisions


In groups, students will analyze one of the stories that went into this Pulitzer-Prize winning multimedia package. Then, given access to the photos and layouts from the project, groups will decide how they would change the presentation and why.


  • Students will analyze an editor’s choices of elements in a professional piece.
  • Students will decide as an editorial board elements that would make a story stronger
  • Students will present their ideas to the class.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


Two 50-minute classes or one 90-minute class

Materials / resources

Lesson step-by-step

  1. Building background — 10 minutes

Explain to students that today they will be presented with potential elements for an online multimedia package. As a hypothetical editorial board, they will determine what they feel would be a stronger presentation of the story using the elements provided, defend their decision and then list elements not provided that they feel would make the story stronger.

  1. Individual work — 40 minutes

Divide the class into four groups by giving each student a number/letter that represents one of the following stories.

  1. Disposable
  2. Left Behind
  3. Locked Away
  4. Pattern of Misconduct

Allow each member of every group to read each piece independently. As each student reads, have him or her take note of the photos that were chosen to go with that piece, the caption information included with each photo, and the video interviews included.

For each photo/video, have students record their thoughts in the graphic organizer.

  1. Small group work — 30 minutes

Divide the class into four predetermined story groups. In each group, students should act as though they are members of an editorial board deciding how they will present this story. Using the graphic organizer they each completed in the prior activity, the group will discuss each element of their particular story. As a group, they will reach consensus on what changes they would like to see in the presentation of the piece.

  1. Small group presentations — 20 minutes (approximately 5 minutes each)

Each group will share its decisions with the entire class. In order for the rest of the class to be a bit more prepared for the presentations, consider building in a homework assignment that allows each student to look at the other three stories, leading to full-class discussion based on each presentation. A written editorial board plan should propose point-by-point changes to make in the story/graphic presentation. Clear evidence of each individual’s contribution to the group presentation should be present. This could be in the form of a reflective piece from each student describing his/her role in the group decision-making process. Students should also turn in their individual graphic organizers.

  1. Extended activities (optional)

Option 1: In small groups, have students select a topic to cover in their own publication/website. For the story, they should list how they plan to present the topic including a list of story(ies), audio elements, video elements, photo elements and infographic elements. Each element should answer the question “Why should this be included in this multimedia piece?

Option 2 (Preparation would involve a lot more advanced work on the teacher’s part): Take a professional piece (like the One Story selection used for this lesson). Break it down into basic elements: photos, videos, infographics and text. Assign students to put the pieces together into a long-form piece without having seen the finished professional piece, then asking them to defend their decision-making process in writing. Groups then can compare their decisions to those made by the professional editors.


Consider assigning different roles for members of the editorial board group meeting. Higher level students might serve as the editor-in-chief of the group while struggling students could serve as staff members at large on the editorial board. Set your expectations for the end product based on the roles you assign each student. For instance, the editor-in-chief might be responsible for the majority of the oral presentation, while the member at large might simply turn in his or her graphic organizer.