Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

Reporters At Work

One of the great writing activities made simple through computers is that of a newspaper.  As the gifted and talented coordinator in my building, in order to meet the needs of my literary kids and provide them an outlet for their writing and leadership skills, I started a school newspaper last year.

The newspaper is a testament to team effort and peer pressure, and it inspires a self-starting nature to writing. You take a group of kids who like to write (or just like to gossip) and give them a task: tell people what’s going on. Suddenly, everyone is coming up with ideas.

“We would like to know more about the new principal.”
“We are learning about crawfish in science. It’s pretty neat!”
“Can I put a cartoon in?”

Then, you have the kids write up their stories and put them all in the same file, preferably on a network, but passing around a thumbdrive or a zip disk works well too.  The students who are writing aces (and need a challenge) become editors, fixing up the writing, leaving me free to supervise. When it’s all done, we pile them into a pre-made Publisher template.

On a perfect month. But nothing is ever perfect.

Much of the time I, along with the editors, am chasing kids around for the stories that they promised us.  We also spend a lot of time getting those stories to fit into the template, either by making them bigger or trimming them down. But what we are left with is a great collection of writing from different kids in different grades with different interests.

Seeing Weekly Reader each week has helped the kids understand that what they’re doing is not just writing, but something bigger: They are doing the same jobs as many of the reporters of the paper are doing. Weekly Reader gives kids a great example of how to write professionally, and it allows them to feel like they have a kinship with the people who report on the news.

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Comments on: "Reporters At Work" (2)

  1. What a great idea! I’m a big fan of kid-journalism. Have you tried using Google Docs when collaborating? It would allow your reporters to work from home as well if they have internet access.

    Do your kid reporters use digital cameras to supply photos for your paper as well?

  2. I have thought of using google docs, but being elementary school its a lot easier for the younger kids to just write it up on an alphasmart. although I do use google docs a lot.

    The digital cameras belong to our library and the kids check them out. A great system since I only have to train them up on one camera. Cheap Kodak Cameras seem to work well since they have few settings and have a small replacement cost. we have a 2nd grader who takes pictures and writes a column on whats up on 2nd grade. last month was a riveting story on zhu zhu pets.

    I like your idea though! I think I’ll make a story submission form in google so kids can give us “tips” on stories!

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