elective: journalism (school newspaper) - help

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Linguist92021, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sep 28, 2013

    We are coming to the end of our 1st quarter on October 11. I've taught Current Events and it worked out great, but now I need to change it. Originally I was already thinking to do something else for 2nd quarter, but in 1 class boredom started to set in, because the routines and activities were largely the same, although the news is always different. In the other class everything is great.

    One easy choice would be Life Skills. My P warned me that it could be a lot of work because I have to come up with the curriculum, although teaching it in units wouldn't be that hard. We have a very old and very low level set of textbooks I couldn't use, they're just too outdated.
    Anyways, this is an option. This quarter is very short anyways, barely 6 weeks of school days.

    But I've been toying with another idea since last school year: to produce a school newspaper.
    I talked to my P and she told me it's a great idea, especially since we never had a newspaper, but she cautioned me that it would be tough. She said when she did it with this population, she could only manage it with 8 students, anything more was just frustrating.
    So we agreed that I think about it, come up with a plan and we'll see if it's doable. She's very supportive by the way.

    So I'd like some advice. I've never done it, but I think it would be great (the kids always complain that our school is not like a regular high school because they're the bad kids). I already have some concerns, limitations and some ideas, but can we brainstorm? Or can you guys tell me if it won't even work?

    Limitations / concerns
    1. Students do not choose their electives, so I know some kids will not care about this project.
    2. Class sizes are 10-12 and will increase later. Will I be able to keep every student on task every day?
    3. How do I find a printer? Could I just our copy machine? The largest size paper I can use is the one that's a bit longer than a 8x10 (forget the name). Our school is small, with only any 60+ students, and will not go over 100, so we don't need hundreds of copies.

    Ideas, thoughts
    1. We would call it a journalism class, and obviously focus on other things, not just creating the paper. But the paper would be the project.
    2. Since the classes would start Oct. 11, we'd publish a paper by Oct 31,by the week of Thanksgiving, and before the Christmas break, having each time 3 weeks to do it.
    3. The kids could work on it every day in class, and I'd have 2 classes split the responsibilities, so I think we'd have enough time.
    4. We could use the computer lab to type up everything when it's all done.

    The reasons why I'd love to do this
    1. It's something the kids would create - it's so Common Core :)
    2. It could involve and unite the entire school, other students could provide input
    3. It's about the students, by the students, for the students.
    4. We have so much talent at our school, great rappers could write poems, we have some awesome artists, etc.
    5. The 2 classes would probably be excited about it, they'd leave their foot print in the school history, something they can show their parents, etc.

    Do you guys think this could work?
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Further ideas and questions:
    - what software would I use for the layout? Can Microsoft Word do it?

    I was thinking to have a lot of different things in the paper, ranging in difficulty from very easy to very hard so every student could be involved.
    - 1 article about a major national news event, 1 article about a national news event and 1 article about a local news event. So sometimes we'd still watch the news, or look at news papers, etc.
    - school related things: calendar of events, anything school related, maybe a Principal's message, things like that.
    - student work: a couple of poems, pictures, etc.
    - even small things like a joke of the day, a riddle, horoscopes, things that unmotivated students could look up and be involved.Or teenager stuff, like movies coming out, a movie review, etc.

    We could use the paper to announce contests, have other students provide their own artwork, etc.
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 28, 2013

    I think you must do it!!! ;)

    I wouldn't worry too much about the "newspaper" format in terms of paper size. It's really more about the process and students having something tangible in the end they produced. (Of course, you could also publish it online, but I like print.)
     
  5. 1cubsfan

    1cubsfan Companion

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    Sep 28, 2013

    This sounds like a fabulous idea!

    I would give them as much guidance/structure as you possible can.
    Be sure that students have some choice for which article they write, but I would be intentional about making sure that they know exactly what is expected of them for each work that they submit.

    I would avoid opinion sections. In typical school newspapers, it usually is things like, "The food is awful" or something that just doesn't contribute to a positive school environment. Something that might be fun is have an article on reviews of movies/CDs/books.

    You can use Microsoft Word, or Microsoft Publisher. I would keep it simple. If you know Word, use Word. 2-3 sheets of 8x10 paper folded in half would be plenty for a newspaper in a small school.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    8.5x14 (legal) paper might be slightly easier to format, with two columns per folded page: two columns in 8.5x11 paper tend to look scrawny, but one column's a bit wide. MS Word should give you the columns, and I devoutly hope that versions later than mine handle the pages properly as well (that is, if you're printing a eight-page newspaper on two sheet of folded paper, pages 8 and 1 are on one side of one sheet with pages 2 and 7 on the other, and pages 3 and 6 are on one side of the other sheet with pages 4 and 5 on the other; my old version of Word won't do that automatically, alas). For a first effort, the school's printers should serve quite adequately. If this continues, you might see if you can get the local office-supply store or printshop to donate the printing or give you a break on it in exchange for advertising.

    Here's an assortment of resources for high school journalism:

    The Media Literacy Project, http://medialiteracyproject.org/ ranges from print and broadcast to computer, Internet, new technologies. Download a fine Introduction, emphasizing critical thought, at http://medialiteracyproject.org/resources/introduction-media-literacy.

    “Start the Press! How to start a high school newspaper,” by Auburn University Journalism Students, www.highschooljournalism.org/images/generic/startthepress.pdf, offers a decent quick overview of scholastic journalism and is free to download. The High School Journalism Web site also has other resources, including lesson plans and a rather formidable journalism glossary.

    High School Journalism, www.hsj.org, has some useful-looking journalism games and commentary about game-based learning at www.hsj.org/Games/index.cfm?menu_id=10.

    Journalism students definitely need to know proofreaders’ marks: if you’re lucky, one or two of your students will be skilled enough writers to edit and proofread their peers’ work. Try the Chicago Manual of Style’s list at www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_proof.html and a nifty list with interactive examples at www.eeicom.com/staffing/marks.html.

    On plagiarism, see http://teacher.scholastic.com/writeit/essay/publish/pdfs/plagiarism.pdf.

    The Poynter Web site has goodies for the journalism teacher; the “Tip Sheet for High School Journalists” offers links from www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=73952 to lots of journalism resources, including those by James Glen Stovall at www.jprof.com.

    “Standards for Journalism Educators”, http://jea.org/resources/standards.html, is the Journalism Education Association’s overview of good journalism and mass media education.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you guys for the encouragement and the advice, and thank you TG for the links - I'm reading through them right now.

    I always like to cover all my bases and plan for every little detail that might come up as a problem.
    1. how do I grade the students?
    The paper would be a project and they get graded for their involvement, but how do I make that fair and objective? For example 2 students are working on 1 article, I can see that they're both working equally. But there could be some kids who would do very small scale work, but I would still want to give them a good grade as a reward.
    For example a kid, who doesn't do ANYTHING, he has no interest in education (parents don't value it either) he just recently started doing some work, just for me, but it's still not enough to pass. If this kid just write down the 'joke of the day' or copies down the horoscopes, or something, I'm already happy that he's involved. But is it fair to give him the same credit as the guys who write the article?
    Then again, he'd never be able to write an article, so I gotta be fair.

    2. Grading:
    I was thinking that they still need to do some type of classwork every day for them to get a base grade. For example have a curriculum, which includes some of the essentials, such as bias vs non-bias, subjective vs. objective article, etc. These would be things they need to know for the paper, and would provide something measurable.

    3. If I have too many kids, or kids who are not interested in being involved in the paper: I could have curriculum as independent study and they could do that work on their own and get full credit.
    Or if someone wants to be involved, but is always off-task and disruptive to others and I want to take him off of the project, they could be put on independent assignment.
    Would this work?
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

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    Sep 28, 2013

    I think your idea of having the paper be part of but not all of the elective is very good, and that will help with the issue of how smaller contributions count (although it's not impossible that something about Writing For Publication will grab your reluctant student: who knows?)

    When I was in high school journalism - the point of the class WAS to produce the school paper - we could earn set numbers of points for various activities, which we had to document in our stringbooks. (A stringbook is a compilation of a newspaper writer's output. One of my classmates assembled hers with, um, string.) It's long enough ago that I don't remember the point values very well, but let me quickly explain the concept of the "column inch": given the old-fashioned two-inch wide newspaper column, a column inch is the amount of text that fills that column one inch deep. A double-column article three inches in height contains six column inches of type: two columns' worth across times three inches deep. The column inch was a way to standardize quantities of written output back when one sent typewritten articles out to a compositor for typesetting. The compositor wouldn't send back finished pages: he'd send back galleys, long strips of type in the specified one-, two- or three-column width. Feel free to use a different standard - if your columns are all the same width, you can just refer to "inches" - but do use something.

    Anyway, in our journalism class we got a certain number of points per column inch for writing an article, a certain additional number of points per column inch for the amount of the article that the editors chose to print, a smaller number of points per illustration or photo (there might have been a bonus in column inches, too, to recognize photos that were newsworthy enough to be big), a fairly high number of points for laying out or designing a page (which is more complicated than you might think when the text is quite literally cut and pasted), a certain number of points for selling ads, a smallish number of points per column inch for copyediting raw text before it went to the compositor, and one point per column inch for proofreading first the galleys and later the designed pages before they went to the printer. (I remember the one point per column inch. I would routinely pick up at least 200 points per issue on proofreading alone.) One's grade was then based on the number of points one amassed. You'd obviously need to tweak this for your students, but some such way of assigning credit might well work for you.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oh, and we did also have other graded work of the sort you've mentioned - and I believe the state standards for English/language arts put much more emphasis on media literacy than they did in my day, so incorporating activities of that sort makes all sorts of sense.
     
  10. Melanie Therese

    Melanie Therese Rookie

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    Sep 28, 2013

    It seems like you could grade based on:

    1. Portfolio of work created by the student for the newspaper.
    2. Other work completed in class - dealing with current events or the history of journalism, perhaps.
    3. Overall participation and enthusiasm.

    That way, if a student isn't capable of writing articles you can try to find something he'll be enthusiastic about contributing, even if it's just something small. If he's engaged, he'll be enthusiastic, and he'll be more likely to make his contribution more valuable and you can reward him accordingly.

    Don't forget about the interviews your students could conduct!
     
  11. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    My journalism class was large, around 25 students. They published a weekly newspaper. The kids were assigned to certain tasks, so everybody had a job. We had news writers, sports writers, photographers, feature writers, layout team, sales team. That was in the days before computers and Internet, so we were doing layout by hand. Now I could see a team that also put the newspaper out in an online format, too.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    This brings me to my next point:
    - timeframe. I was first thinking monthly or biweekly, depending on how they're doing. having 2 classes work on the same thing, 48 minutes, 5 days / week is probably better to have a paper in 2 weeks, but the way the quarter is, we might as well spend 3 weeks and then have the paper by the end of the month.

    - jobs:
    so far I have the following:
    - articles about news, international, national and local. This can be taken from internet, other articles and students provide their own summary, etc. about 2 students / article, so that's 6 student total
    - articles about specific relevant topics, such as cyber-bulling, etc.
    - same as above but about more light hearted topics that interest teenagers, for example the newest cell phone, things like that. 1 or 2 students / topic
    - movie or music review 1 or 2 students
    - art work (drawing, illustrating the paper, logo design, etc) 2-3 total
    - poems, songs I'd have about 1-2 students at least
    - interviewers (interview students not in the class)
    - 1 proof reader this person can also facilitate things, make schedules and check everything is on time
    - small things like a joke or riddle, horoscope, something weird or interesting, or cute
    - maybe someone could create a crossword puzzle about student-related vocab.
    - runner: this student could print the papers in the office, pick things up, etc.

    We could also include:
    - contests or raffles
    - Principal's message
    - certain messages or words wisdom / encouragement from other teachers
    - calendar of events, reminders
    - have a general mailbox in the office (that's where students come in) so they can drop off suggestions, contests, things they want to contribute like poems, art, stories, etc.
    - I love my motivational quotes in the classroom, we could include 1, and have 1 student write his thoughts, encourage others to write theirs

    So far that's all I have.
    I could give extra credit points for students not in the electives class who contribute. I have most students in English, if I don't, maybe one of their teachers can give them extra credit.

    Our school is a court school, which means most things are confidential, because they're minors. So we can't have any pictures of students, and we can't even have their full names, just things like Jose G. If these papers go home (which we want), we actually open up who is in our school, etc, and if we give out too much info we could get in trouble, even worse, some students could get hurt. We have rival gangs and a lot of the families are gang members themselves.

    I don't know about having businesses advertize. This is a very impoverished area, and our families are probably the lowest income in the area, so the businesses wouldn't get much out of advertizing and they know it, too. So I wouldn't even focus on that.

    Anything I'm missing, or should take off?
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    So when I did the school newspaper, I was a leeeetle ambitious for MS and modeled it after the newspaper I had previously worked for.

    - 8.5x14 folded in half works perfect for a school newspaper.
    - Pages have to be in increments of four if you do it this way.
    - Jobs: editor, managing editor, arts and entertainment writers, sports writers, feature writers, photographers, advertising and public relations, and games.

    Set-up:
    Front page: Banner, school-wide message
    Second page: masthead, feature article
    Third page: feature article, interview, fun facts
    Fourth page: music news, 8th grade notables
    Fifth page: feature article, sports
    Sixth page: photo collage
    Seventh page: movie review, "Ask Lucy" (MS for Dear Abby)
    Eighth page: jokes, horoscopes, games

    I didn't do advertising, because I couldn't justify cutting out anything or adding four more pages, which the advertising wouldn't cover.

    Background: every thing TeacherGroupie posted. You need to teach about responsible journalism, writing unbiased works, plagiarism, and 1st Amendment rights. You need to teach proofreading and editing skills. Since you can't do photography, you don't have to worry about teaching those skills.

    Programs: I was able to use Quark (!) and Photoshop. I would recommend Publisher over Word.

    Always remember: extra space can be filled in with graphics.

    If you want an example, pm me your email and I'll send you the PDF pages... sans the photo page :)
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I'll delicately suggest that while you can't have recognizable images of students, that doesn't mean that you can't have photography - and even Word makes it easy to crop photos for interest.
     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    TG, I do want to use some photography, but like you said not students' faces. For example we have football practice a couple of times / week, we could take a picture from far in a way that students are not recognizable, then a student can interview some students about why they like football / practice, their favorite team, etc.
    I can also blur faces out if I have to.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oh, I don't know anymore. I'm feeling discouraged now.
    I gave it some thought in the past few days and also mentioned it to my electives classes. Their reaction was mixed, some liked it, some said they hoped they wouldn't be in that class (next Friday is the end of our 1st quarter, so the kids' schedules will be switched around.)

    These are my doubts:
    - because these kids don't choose to be in my class, they're just put into it, they might not like it, and they might not put the required effort into it
    - what if the whole thing collapses? What if we do 1 paper but then they sort of lose interest and can't really do a good job? I can't do it for them, it has to be them.
    - if I do this, we have t do it the whole year. We can't just start a paper and after 3 months stop it. Like I said, what if the motivation is too low?
    - my P said her concern would be the larger class size, she recommended 8 students tops. I'm actually talking about 2 classes., 10-14+ students.
    - what if I just did it with 1 class? I think it would be easier, especially if that class was a smaller one. That means I would have to have 2 electives, but who knows, it could work, if I keep the other one Current Events.

    I just don't know. Maybe I'm just feeling down because these last 2 days exhausted me, even though they were supposed to be easy. It's from the energy level of my students, it wears me out. Some of their energy is too low, which means they don't want to work, so I have to motivate them, or that they don't want to work but sit there and talk or misbehave because they're bored. Or some of their energy levels are way too high which results in a lot of hyper active and more aggressive behavior. I didn't have 2 bad days, I actually had 2 pretty good days if we look at the result, but it was a lot of work from my end, a lot of patience, redirection,and energy. :(
    And I was thinking: on days like this, how can I get these students to put out a high quality newspaper?
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Hugs, Linguist.

    What is it that students didn't like about the class as proposed: the focus on producing a newspaper, or the focus on studying media?

    My high school had a tradition of journalism - kids wanted to be in that class - and the year that I started there they hired a new journalism teacher who had actually worked in the field and knew what she wanted from us. Every year, though, it took us an issue or two to find our feet. Count on your first paper not being terrific, because all of you will be learning. But if you can do some good things in it, you can give the kids an idea how much better it can get.

    One possibility to consider, if what's going on is that the kids think they won't or can't do what it takes to produce a paper, is de-emphasizing the newspaper: spend time analyzing media in the broad sense contemplated by the pre-CC state standards, and then perhaps you can do the paper later in the year if you've got buy-in. You could certainly set a series of smaller projects (writing, editing, design, etc.) that could either build toward a paper or not.

    (Let me add that I have enormous respect for you for the population with which you work and the heart and integrity that you bring.)
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you so much! I can use some hugs.
    I don't know what they didn't like about the class, I didn't want to go into it. I just mentioned it to them, I was pretty enthusiastic about it, but also told them that the P hasn't cleared it, so I it wasn't definite.
    Some kids will just complain and be negative about anything, but then they change their mind. So I couldn't really base anything on their reaction, but I was really thinking about what would happen if they gradually started losing interest.

    Now I'm leaning towards just having 1 class do it. IT would be 1 group of kids, and not 2, they would know the whole thing depends on them and there would be plenty of work to go around.
    I just really wish I could have students in the class who would be interested in doing it, but that is not going to happen.

    I like your idea of not putting so much pressure on them right away, maybe we could take the rest of October and November to produce the first paper.

    Ugh, I really gotta think this through.
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    You could also consider something other than a newspaper per se: maybe a quarterly or monthly magazine, or even a small yearbook if your school doesn't already have one.
     
  20. bison

    bison Habitué

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    A newspaper sounds like a great idea, but if you decide not to do it, life skills also sounds like it could be extremely valuable for the population you teach. :)
     
  21. SashaBear

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    I took journalism in high school. We had Journalism I and we learned to write for the paper and put the yearbook together. We were then approved for Journalism I, II, III. We were required to submit two articles a week and received a grade for each article. We also had a design editor whom arranged the paper in a computer program. He filled the gaps in with blurbs and jokes and such. If you want people to submit poems, drawings, etc. I would put an announcement in the first issue. No grades for submissions. We printed ours out and used a riso machine (cheap copier) and stapled them together and charged 10 cents. We also had one issue professional printed but we had to charge more.
    I would look into publishing it online more than anything. It would be more accessible and cheaper. You could also publish stories weekly as opposed to bimonthly.
     
  22. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Thank you guys for all the suggestions. I feel like I could do this with the right groups. But I have come to the conclusion that I shouldn't do this. I kept thinking about having students in the class that want nothing to do with the newspaper. In other schools students would compete for these spots and interview, etc, these students are just put in there. The larger class size wasn't my main worry, but my P did warn me about it.

    I even asked one student's opinion one on one, and he said it might not work, because a lot of kids wouldn't want to do it, and asked me if I had a back up plan. (I told him it would be career exploration)

    so I went to my P, and told her my decision. She smiled, and told me she was glad I decided this, because she was going to say no. She said she wasn't going to let me set myself up to fail, and this would not have worked the way I imagined it. (because of the class size and that kids are not in the class by choice) But she didn't want to shut me down, she wanted me to decide on my own.

    I didn't feel like doing life skills, it's too broad and that doesn't work well for me. I decided on career exploration, and she game me so many fantastic ideas. I already thought about resume, cover letter, letter of rec, thank you letter, mock interviews, I have a few surveys to pin-point their interest, etc. She told me who to contact to have them come and speak to the classes about opportunities they have for employment.
    Now I'm relieved and excited because I feel that this I can handle :)
     

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