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Karla Dejean

Writer and Project Manager & Upper School Journalism Teacher
B.S. Journalism, Ohio University

Teaching Philosophy

Important Skills I Want to Teach my Students

Storytelling with truth is one of the most powerful aspects of journalistic communication, and in this decade of news and corporate communication, one of the most valuable. My overall goal is for students to gain beginning knowledge of the reach and rhythm of real-world news coverage. Within that scope, I aim for my students to learn Associated Press style—the writing style used by respected journalists all over the world. Students will also better understand the anatomy of the story, the importance of direct quotes, and the journalism code of ethics drafted by the national Society of Professional Journalists. And because reading informs writing, Seven Hills journalism students will become constant consumers of myriad news sources, which will arm them with a unique blend of story construction and current events news sense.

Teaching Methods to Reach These Goals

Overall, because Seven Hills’ Upper School journalism class has a practical component, our online, student-run newspaper, Canvass, the main teaching methods are the constant newsroom/classroom dynamic, which incorporates collaborative discussions, small group work, and 1:1 teacher-student and student-student guidance. The nature of journalism incorporates a built-in teacher-student learning cycle. Every day, the act of coming together, moving through the intentional chaos of budget meetings, hunkering down to learn the theory and technicalities of journalistic writing, and later, applying our research, theory, and reporting to practical use—writing the article itself—is a natural teaching tool that places the students and teacher in ongoing revolving and shifting roles of teacher/student.

My Favorite Projects

My favorite project during the year actually happens on the first day of school. After a brief discussion about the purpose and benefit of press conferences, students come in as reporters, ready to take on a mock press conference about a fictional incident that recently took place in the Madisonville area. The students are given a brief written description of the event—so far it has been a candy factory robbery and a separate incident involving a unicorn sighting—then they morph into reporter mode, asking questions of their sources who are usually all performed by a colleague and me. The students then write up a brief article based on their reporting from the conference. The activity is such a fun ice-breaker for the students. It also gives the students an opportunity to hear the types of questions being asked, and it gives me a glimpse of students’ writing levels and styles.

What I Like Best About Teaching at Seven Hills

I like the relevance and practical application of the First Amendment acted out each class period when students write for Canvass. I like seeing students’ appreciation for responsible news coverage grow as they move throughout the year. The more students write, the more they appreciate the purpose and process of the news they read and hear out in the world. And the more news they consume, the more they understand how important it is for them to know how to report and write journalistically.