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Teacher's Guide to the Teen Reporter Handbook

The teen reporter handbook trains young people to use words and sounds to tell true stories about themselves, their families, their communities and the world. 

Young people are spoken in the media, but they are not often enough given the chance to speak for themselves. Radio diaries provide a way to tell stories that bring neglected Canadian voices to a boarder audience and allows commitment to producing innovative works of lasting educational, cultural and artistic value.

Radio diaries gives a community the opportunity to hear fresh and intimate perspectives on their city and on its youth, while also helping youth gain the skills, confidence and determination necessary to get their voices on the airwaves. 

Told with care and dignity, radio diaries depict the lives of Canadians living in communities often neglected or misunderstood. With this in mind, students make the essential connection between history and the choices they confront in their own lives. 

Radio Diaries encourages young people to develop a voice in the conversations of their peer culture, as well as in the critical discussions and debates of their community and nation. 

Allowing youth to explore ways to act as a positive catalytic force in the communities they serve, using all appropriate media for the exchange of perspectives, the stimulus of the imagination, and the celebration of their communities inherent diversity.

Radio Diaries

  • A stimulant for critical thinking

  • Spark ideas and discussion and encourages youth to share their thoughts

  • Fosters innovative approaches to disseminating ideas and broadening the national debate on issues such as e.g. poverty, juvenile justice, race, culture, etc.

  • Merges community with diversity

  • Contributes to cultural appreciation and enlightenment

  • Builds community through media

  • Gives youth the opportunity to have a voice in their communities

  • Forms appreciation of citizenship, leadership and prevention

  • Promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry

  • Helpful in identifying youth as leaders

  • A mentorship opportunity for youth as well as adults

  • Diverse in developing self-confidence; school and community connections

  • Citizen storytelling and community building


  • Pair students with a volunteer mentor e.g. journalist who gives the student guidance and assistance

  • Partner with a community organization in the neighborhood

  • Conduct radio diaries in a new neighborhood

  • Create audio profiles of people surviving difficult experiences

  • Develop a live radio talk show

  • Develop a radio journal of news and culture from different perspectives

  • Have students create audio documentaries of their lives

  • Interview friends and adults about experiences that have brought together people from different neighborhoods and backgrounds

  • Create a collection of a communities specific musical heritage

  • Story go-rounds (spontaneous topics)

  • Active and passive listening games

  • Email/List serve: Regular "bulletin board" communication

  • Field trips to radio, newspaper, and television stations


  • If you were asked to introduce outsiders to your neighborhood, what words would you use to describe it? What sounds would you want outsiders to hear? What sights would you include on your tour? What parts of your neighborhood are you proudest of? What do you wish you could change? How do you think outsiders see your neighborhood? What are they most likely to notice? What might they fail to see? What might they fail to understand? How might you help them see your world from your perspective?

Each of us has an identity- a sense of who we are and what we might become. Communities also have an identity. Neighborhoods have an identity. They also have a history.

  • Create an identity chart for your neighborhood. It contains the words or phrases we might attach to ourselves as well as the ones that outsiders may give us. Compare it to those of your classmates. Which categories were on every chart? Which appeared on only a few? As you look at other charts, you may wish to add new categories to the one you created. What does your neighborhood have in common? What differences seem most striking?

  • Find out about the history of your neighborhood. How has it changed over the years? What prompted those changes?

  • How does the way others view your community affect the way you see yourself?

  • Many people see themselves as bystanders-individuals who lack the power and influence to make a difference. Others disagree. They are convinced that there are no limits to what people can accomplish if they join together with others who share their vision. What do you think? To what extent can people stop the violence and regain control of their community?

  • What projects and people make life better in your community? The nation? The planet? How do you learn about these people and projects? What part does the press play in telling these stories? How else do we learn them? How important is it that we know about the good things happening in our communities as well as the bad?


Curriculum Goals

  1. Describe at opportunities for using media as a tool for any one purpose or variety of jobs or careers.

  2. Identify students' area of interest in radio, video, newspaper (print, illustration/cartooning or photojournalism).

  3. Identify teams to be linked to a local media outlet that serves as a hands-on training ground and matches their medium of interest.

  4. Conduct research and inquiry on self-selected or assigned topics, issues and problems, and use diverse resources and referrals to become well informed on topics.

  5. Use computers and other technology to acquire, organize, analyze and communicate information.

  6. Demonstrate understanding of collaborative leadership by having the opportunity to lead, moderate and participate subsequent presentations and discussions on the topics. 

  7. Demonstrate leadership in team building and participate productively in work groups.

  8. Demonstrate self-motivation and increased responsibility for learning.

  9. Maintain ethical standards and understand copyright standards.

  10. Create media products appropriate to audience and purpose.

Learning Objectives/Outcomes:

A. Communication Skills

  1.  Demonstrate coherent, analytical reasoning

  2. Summarize complex information

  3. Relate to diverse people and situations

  4. Demonstrate principles of interviewing

  5. Conduct research on a specific subject area

  6. Listen, discuss and analyze in oral discussion

  7. Evaluate word choice, style, expression or purpose and context

  8. Develop confidence and poise

  9. Analyze information for accuracy and presenter bias

  10. Present information in an open-minded and objective manner

B. Writing

  1. Increase ability to journal and script

  2. Demonstrate the ability to write to diverse audiences

  3. Demonstrate forms, structures and punctuation of language

C. Video production

  1. Use basic media and technology terminology and equipment

  2. Take a lead role in producing at least one feature/documentary type video

  3. Demonstrate understanding of principles of composition and visual techniques

  4. Demonstrate understanding of storyboarding and scripting

D. Audio production

  1. Take a lead role in producing at least one radio show

  2. Understand the basics of producing radio documentaries, radio talk shows, commentaries and news stories

  3. Prepare and deliver oral presentations using standardized language

  4. Demonstrate an increased verbal vocabulary

  5. Use common media and technology terminology and equipment

Instructional Strategies

  • Students will work with local media professionals in newspaper, radio and film who will mentor and teach them real-world journalism.

  • Students will work within their school districts to enhance school newsletters and fill public relations roles.

  • School administrators will work with interested teachers to integrate this media work into their classroom curriculums.

  • A list serve will be a daily bulletin board of communication for training and field trip opportunities. There will be a calendar of events posted.

  • Media mentors can work with students. The mentor will work with students to identify projects that the student would like to accomplish.

  • Students will form diverse intra and inter community/school teams to produce radio and television shows, and articles for newspapers.

Management Strategies

  • Communication via list serve, email, Website, phone, and in-person

  • Coordination of the overall operation of the project and its tangents

  • A thorough understanding of the students involved and a tracking of their progress at different ages and different levels

  • A regular survey system that is designed for on-going input from students, advisors and spectators regarding the training and curriculum


  • Daily conversations - "how is it going?"

  • Take a look at the final products

  • With each idea assess how to fine tune the program's curriculum

  • Get feedback from school administrators, mentors and teachers regularly

  • Meet with students and advisors on a regular basis, inter and intra community

Website Resources on Youth Radio Organizations

Youth Radio

Koahnic Broadcasting Corporation/Alaska Native Youth Media Institute

Latino USA/Youth Spin

WWOZ/Student Imaging & Original Minds

KDNK/Youth Radio 2000

KZFR/Youth Programming

Youth Press/Rebel Radio


This American Life
(follow links to the "Comic Book," a guide to producing radio)

Sound Portraits
(follow links to Resoures and "How-To")

Atlantic Public Media/Cape and Islands Community Radio
(follow tips to Jay Allison and "Tips for Citizen Storytellers")

Association of Independents in Radio
(follow links to "ESources" and "How-To's")

Oral History Unit Overview

Information for the Development of an Oral History Project

Oral History Project: Guidelines For Recording an Interview

Fish Bowls and Bloopers: Oral History in the Classroom

One Minute Guide to Oral Histories

Oral History Questions

Specific Oral History Questions

Oral History Lesson Plans

Oral History Websites

Oral History Activities

Teacher's Guide to the Teen Reporter Handbook

Oral History Topics, Skills and Methods

Download Teacher's Guide in Word Document format.




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