Students learn about community businesses and service organizations, and choose one to help by producing informational brochures. As a public relations "agency," students assess the needs of their client and produce a brochure that heralds an upcoming event or publicizes the organization's contribution to the community. Students collaborate with publishing experts and learn how to apply design elements to meet the purpose of a client.
At a Glance
- Grade Level: 6-8
- Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Visual Arts
- Topics: Community Service, Graphic Design, Public Relations
- Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Problem Solving, Decision Making
- Key Learnings: Design and Composition, Desktop Publishing
- Time Needed: 5 weeks, 30-minute lessons, 3 lessons per week
Things You Need
Mobile apps, reviewed by professional educators for related instructional content.
Common Core Alignment
This unit is aligned to Common Core State Standards for Language Arts.
- Reading: Informational Text RI.6, RI.7, RI.8
- Writing W.6, W.7, W.8
- Speaking and Listening SL.6, SL.7, SL.8
- Language L.3, L.4
This unit is aligned to Common Core State Standards for Social Studies.
- Literacy in History/Social Studies RH.6-8
- Essential Question
How can we help our community?
- Unit Questions
How do organizations communicate with people?
What role does public relations play?
How can we help an organization communicate a message?
- Content Questions
How can we use the basic elements of design to address the purpose of a brochure?
What are the steps for designing and drafting a publication?
View how a variety of student-centered assessments are used in the Creative Kids Go Pro Unit Plan. These assessments help students and teachers set goals; monitor student progress; provide feedback; assess thinking, processes, performances, and products; and reflect on learning throughout the learning cycle.
Prior to Instruction
If you are not familiar with desktop publishing and photo-editing programs, begin by taking a course or seeking assistance from other teachers, parents, or students.
At least one month in advance:
- Identify local businesses or community organizations that could benefit from having a brochure that publicizes their organization or promotes an upcoming event.
- Collect sample brochures that represent a variety of purposes, approaches, and uses of color, imagery, and design elements.
Setting the Stage
Begin the unit by asking the Essential Question, How can we help our community? Ask students to think individually about the question and then discuss their responses with each other. Ask for volunteers to share their responses with the whole class.
Introduce the project by telling the students that they will be forming a public relations "agency" to help a local business or community organization. Ask the Unit Question, How do organizations communicate with people? Have students talk in their groups and then record their ideas in their journals. Ask the groups to share their thinking with the entire class. Explain to students that they will be exploring this question throughout the project.
Identify several local businesses or organizations that could use help with their public relations. If possible, invite them to the class to give short presentations about their organization and its needs. To prepare for this, ask students how they will determine which organizations to help. Together, develop a set of student-generated criteria for deciding which organization to support. In doing so, discuss the decision-making process that they plan to use to evaluate the organizations.
Have each student complete an evaluation of each organization using student-generated criteria. After all the presentations, review the results and discuss.
As students are choosing which organization to help, they can schedule visits to the organization, read publications about the organization or topics related to the work of the organization, and conduct other fact-finding research to help them in their decision-making process. The whole class can choose the same organization or small groups can work with different organizations.
Once the students have identified the businesses or organizations to help, ask the students to consider the Unit Question, How can we help an organization communicate a message? Tell students that in order to provide the best product, they will need to discuss details of the product with the client. For example, they should discuss the following details about the project:
- Information to impart
- Design ideas
- Printing options
Organize small groups of students into a public relations agency, assigning roles such as graphic designer, account manager, writer/editor, and photographer. Have them brainstorm questions they would ask the client based on the preceding criteria. For example, What is the purpose of this communication piece? Each group should write down their final questions and hand them in for review. Explain that each account manager will go with the teacher to meet with the client and ask their questions.
With student representatives, meet with the client and discuss the details of the project, identifying what the final product will be and scheduling future meetings to review drafts. If the final product is printed professionally, collaborate with the client to select a printing company, and schedule a time for a class representative to meet with the client and printer.
After the account managers return to their groups, have each group go through a process of deciding what information they need to present and how best to present it. As they do so, have them complete the project plan to help them. The project plan guides them through the decision making process and provides a document to track progress for the group, teacher, and client. The plan also gives insight into the students' metacongitive processes.
The directions presented in this Unit Plan assume that the final product is a brochure. Ask students to gather brochures from their homes and community.
Organizing the Information
When you and the class have collected a broad set of brochures, have students meet in their public relations groups to discuss the purpose and basic design features of each brochure. For example, when they examine a brochure for a preschool, they might note the use of primary colors, playful fonts, and children's drawings. A banking brochure might be a more somber tone with its use of neutral tones and conservative fonts. Conduct a class discussion to share students' observations. Have students analyze the brochures and discuss the purpose of each, the approach, and the use of color, imagery, and design elements.
Have each group gather the necessary information from their client(s). This might include information from meetings with the manager/director or employees, interviews with customers/clients, information from literature about the organization or issue, photos, and other images that will be included.
Designing the Product
Discuss elements and principles of design. Bryan Peterson's book Using Design Basics to Get Creative Results provides good samples and descriptions of the four basic elements: line, type, shape, and texture. The book also discusses the primary design principles: balance, contrast, unity, color, and value. The resource section of this unit plan lists additional design guides. After students are aware of the basic design features, have them identify how graphic design elements and principles are presented in the brochure collection they just reviewed.
Revisit the Unit Question, What role does public relations play? Review students' project plans and their timelines. Discuss intermediate steps with the students and add details to their timelines.
In their groups, have students brainstorm ideas for their brochures. Remind students that text, imagery, and design elements all contribute to the message in a brochure. They need to take all of these into account as they design their brochures.
Have students sketch and then mock-up their brochures on computers, identifying possible fonts, layouts, and elements. Be sure to have the graphic designers take the lead on this.
Ask each group to share their ideas with the whole class and gather feedback from peers. If doing one class brochure, lead a class discussion and choose design ideas to include in the brochure. Select fonts, elements, color, and other design features from the different groups' efforts. Try to include some thematic elements that run through the entire piece. For instance, students creating a holiday brochure for a hotel client might choose a reindeer theme and draw reindeer eating in the hotel's restaurants, dancing in the ballroom, and sleeping in a hotel bed.
Creating the Product
Note: Include the client in the drafting process. Meet with a representative early on and again when the project is nearly complete.
Use desktop publishing software to create a page template. Set margins, fonts for headlines, picture placeholders, and text fields for required features.
Have the writer/editor create the content for the brochure while the graphic designer and photographer work on the art, which may include drawings and photographs. Scan student artwork and use photo-editing software to work with photos.
Guide students as they design and revise the brochure text and art, and collect elements for the page. Share the project scoring guide to help guide student work.
Presenting the Product
Meet with the client and print company to review a draft of the brochure and associated files. Incorporate feedback into the final draft and submit files to the printer for publishing. Be sure to give the students credit on the brochure.
Plan a final meeting with the client or invite the client to the class to present the final brochures. See a sample letter for ideas. If possible, have a party with the client!
Celebrate your success with the school community. Display the brochure in the classroom, and write about it in the school newsletter, Web site, and yearbook. Send brochures home to parents with a letter.
Assess the final product with the project scoring guide. Have students reflect on their work. For ideas, look at sample reflection questions. Invite students to share their thoughts with the class. Discuss the following questions:
- How did we help our community?
- How did our publication help the organization?
- How did asking the right questions lead to satisfactory results?
- How did we use the basic elements of design to address the purpose of the brochure?
- What are the steps for designing and drafting a publication?
- Desktop publishing skills, including copying, pasting, inserting, and modifying images
- Photo-editing skills
- Provide extra support, using teaching assistants, parent aides, and student helpers
- Modify the amount of work required
- Create teams that support all learners
- Reduce reading and writing requirements, and provide more visual aids and work samples
- Let students act as specialists in areas such as photography and art
- Involve students in meetings and other correspondence with the partner organization and printer
- Have students serve as specialists
English Language Learner
- Create brochures student's first language
- Modify work requirements
- Use visual aids
- Pair the student, if possible, with a more proficient bilingual student
Karrie Deitz participated in the Intel® Teach Program, which resulted in this idea for a classroom project. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.
Background: Odyssey Story from Tashkent, Uzbekistan
A student public relations team seeks to benefit a local business or community organization by publishing informational brochures.