Yearbookers often only see their pages on the small computer screen. After working on a spread for several weeks it is easy to miss small errors or not realize how large that hexagon is going to be on the printed page. During a class period or meeting, display spreads on the screen for peer review. Even if you don’t get to look at every spread in the deadline, the staff will notice things that they need to do to perfect their own pages based on the feedback for other spreads.

When doing this, first ask the student whose spread is being critiqued what their favorite thing about it is. This is crucial because it might be best to critique their favorite element in private. If you don’t know what they love about the spread and it is immediately criticized, feelings will be hurt and the staffer won’t listen to anything else that is said after that. Once the student identifies what they love, ask them what they would change now that they see it magnified. By self-critiquing, they are opening themselves up to receiving critical feedback from other staff members.

 

Pro tip // Change the scene and find a different room to showcase yearbook spreads. Getting away from the yearbook room can bring a change in perspective as well as make the moment more memorable.

Another tip for this activity is for the adviser and editor(s) to speak last. Chances are you, as the adviser, will have the most feedback; but, if you go first, students are less likely to speak. Make a list of areas for improvement and, as other staff members point them out, cross it off your list. By going last, much of what was on your list might have been discussed and you can simply follow up with any remaining critiques, while providing something positive about the spread to wrap up the discussion.

Yes; this takes a lot of time. But it is an investment that is well worth it. Every student is learning invaluable editing skills and receiving feedback to immediately apply to their own spreads. In a perfect world, it would be terrific to do this every Monday. If time doesn’t allow, at least invest in critiquing a few spreads before every deadline.

An alternative to this is for two to three students to pair up and take turns reviewing their work. The other students can continue working on their spreads.

About the author

Jeff Moffitt, MJE

Creative Accounts Manager for Jostens Jeff Moffitt, MJE, advised the award-winning Torch yearbook and Oracle newspaper at Olympia High School in Orlando, FL for 11 years. Besides being Crown and Pacemaker finalist, his students also won numerous individual awards. He is a National Board Certified teacher in career and technical education. Moffitt was OHS’s 2007 Teacher of the Year. JEA named him a Special Recognition Yearbook Adviser in 2010 and a Rising Star in 2006.