Activities for Journalists

Journalists need to keep reading and writing every day!

Links for Mrs. McGrath’s Classes

Yearbook – InDesign –design it does a body good

Yearbook and Photography –

– Photo Composition

Photography – notes about manual camera settings

I promised you journalists and photographers ideas for the summer.

  1. You do not have to complete these in order.
  2. You do not have to participate in this summer activity at all. I think you will find it fun, though, to shoot with a friend or your mom or dad or sibling.
  3. Look for sights and listen for sounds that will make your photos come alive. Your photos of people should tell a story. 
  4. Remember to take four steps forward before you even begin to shoot. You are usually too far away to take a photo with good composition.
  5. Remember the rule of thirds and dimension and perspective.
  6. Remember the rules for design.
  7. Use my photos link on this blog to reference photo ideas. You can also google – great photos – and see what others are composing for contests and just for fun. Do not use Internet photos. This is YOUR porfolio of writing and photography.

Week ONE – This you do have to do first!

Set up your own blog using It’s very easy. Go to and set up the name of your blog, your user name and your password. Use this naming convention for your blog name  – firstname+initial of last – example –

Next set up your UN (should be your first and last name) and a PW (that you can remember).

You will see a dashboard. This is where you can select your design, add pages and upload your photos and writing samples. This is fun because there are a trillion designs to choose from.

Under preferences set up your site so that others can make comments. Otherwise, I won’t be able to comment on the great photos you are taking. You can also make the site private so that others can’t see it. You do want me to see it, so you will need to send me your link each week. I’ll make comments and share when you are ready for others to view your work.

Send your wordpress blog site to me at That is the email I will be checking this summer. Each week as you finish an assignment and add it to your blog, send me the link. Just copy the string of words in the address bar and paste into an email to me. Be sure to refer to My Photographs page so you can look at examples.

Why am I having you blog? Because I want you to learn to upload photos and write for an online audienc. Social media is the future format for our newspapers and photojournalism. You can even make videos if they relate to one of these topics. But I suggest you stick to writing and composing great photos.

Remember to never use your last name or communicate with strangers online.

Week One – Make a new page and call it Wordle…
Use this site –
Include words from a recent crossword puzzle you completed, SAT vocabulary words, names of your heros or favorite quotes or our wordbank of 50’s phrases (i.e. nifty, back at the ranch, etc.) Watch what happens when you submit. This will help you learn to describe.

Week Two – Make a new page and call it…Believe it or Not
Write about a recent dream you had. Take notes as soon as you wake up or you will forget the details. Dreams never make sense, but they are fun to write about. Use paragraphs and quotes with transitional sentences.

Week Three – Make a new page and call it…Color Outside the Lines
Take a box of crayons (I gave you some) and use the primary colors and take a photo capturing each of these colors. For example, for red, take a photo of your dog in a red hat next to fire hydrant.

Week Four – Make a new page and call it…Take Five
Go somewhere different than your own neighborhood and with your parents (of course). Take photos of images of Austin. Take the rail downtown to make it even more exciting. Go outside the boundaries you are familiar with. Use some of my photos as examples of Austin images. You can use this link to help you along and my photos on this blog. You will be creating a postcard so you can take photos of Austin or of your vacation…Greetings from Hawaii, for example.

Week Five – Make a new page and call it… Beatin’ the Heat
Take four photos that illustrate the heat in Austin and how we cool off. This could be kids at the fountain at The Triangle, swimmers at Barton Springs or maybe just your dog and a friend sitting in a blow up pool.

Week Six – Make a new page and call it…Logos
Take three photos of vintage/neon signs such as The Frisco. You might want to make a day of it and eat at the restaurant where you take one of your photos. Be sure to talk to the waitress or waiter and grab of photo of them. Write a caption for one of your photos with a quote included. Take a photo of the menu too. I am sure it will include some retro graphic we might want to use in the yearbook or newspaper. Note the typography. We will be deciding on the three type fonts to use for our yearbook when school begins and at yearbook camp!

 Week Seven – Make a new page and call it..Red White & Blue
Bake something seasonal – birthday cake, 4th of July dessert and take a photo of it (up close – details).

Week Eight – Make a new page and call it…Let’s Play Dress Up
Grab a friend and have him/her pose for you like models do. Take closeups of lips, eyes, lashes, earrings, bling bling, clothing, rings and hands. Upload the photos so that if you are able to
create an advertisement for a store. Look at magazines to see how they capture the details.

Week Nine – Make a new page and call it…Who’s That in the Window?
Take photos at the mall of window displays being sure to capture the name of the store and the ‘buzz phrases” they are displaying to grab your attention.  Taking photos of a pet store window display could be very fun! The Domain has some excellent window displays!

I think we are out of weeks, so here are other ideas you may want to use versus the ones listed above. This is YOUR PORTFOLIO blog! And you can always use the handout I gave to you – Summer Ideas for Journalists LIKE YOU!

  1. Write an editorial about your pet peeve. Be sure to make a new page and call it..Rants and Raves
  2. Find a lead in a book you are reading that HOOKS you and intrigues you to read the rest of the story or a book. Write it in your blog as a new page and call it..Hooked!
  3. Write about your first memory – not what your parents have told you about – but what you really feel is your first memory. Make a new page and call it..Remember When
  4. Write a review of a summer movie. Use the online Statesman as a guide. Make a new page and call it…Critic’s Corner
  5. Write about something familiar –maybe a childhood friend and the secrets you kept. Make a new page and call it..Hush!
  6. Write about something that frightens you and describe how you feel when confronted with..thunder…the dark…etc. I don’t like to look at photos of space. I have to close my eyes when I see a photo of planets and the dark universe! Make a new page and call it… Scaredy Cat
  7. Write about your favorite bedtime story and relate this to how it helped you feel safe and sound. Make a new page and call it…Goodnight, Sleep Tight
  8. Visit a coffee shop and take closeup photos of coffee beans to illustrate the phrase – cool beans. Make a new page and call it..Cool Beans!
  9. Take vacation photos that show action/reaction and details – like a closeup of a fishhook or a sanddollar on the beach. Make a new page and call it…Oh, the places I go!
  10. Take photos of people from the ground up – feet – look for bright cowboy boots and flip flops to make your photos interesting. Make a new page and call it..Feet First
  11. Keep a Big Idea Binder of catch phrases you find in magazines or that you see when you don’t have a camera with you. Paste the magazine phrases in your IDEA binder (or write down what you see or hear in the little black memo book that I gave you).

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