Class Newspaper

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Writing for a newspaper can encourage students to write about things they're interested in, can foster collaboration, and can help students practice writing in different styles.

What if your class wrote a monthly publication?  Each month, every student would be responsible for contributing to the paper, perhaps by writing one of the sections.  Some sections might require a bit of leg-work or research before the article is written, which are more ways for the students to develop academically.  We're not expecting hard-hitting journalism or award-winning writing; just something that lets the students show off what they can do while allowing them to try something new.*

Here are some things you'll want to consider.

Which Articles to Include

Choose from among these whatever your class is interested, whatever you think they are capable of, and however much they can handle.

  • NEWS - what happened recently.

    • Global, National, or Citywide News - students can provide summaries of recent news stories (from actual newspapers, TV, internet, etc.) that they found interesting.

      • politics, sports, entertainment, society, etc.

      • maybe get a few quotes from fellow students on what they think about the story

    • School or Community News - students write about what's happening around them (these are more likely to be original articles).

      • social, athletic, academic, etc.

      • say not only what happened, by why it's important

  • ANNOUNCEMENTS - what's coming up that other students should be aware of, like school plays, county fairs, bake sales, school assemblies, holidays, etc.

    • This could be a single article listing all events; include essential information like location, date, and time, and perhaps through in a highlight or two.

    • Alternately, there could be one article for each event, in which you go into details of what to expect or interview people who are preparing for it.

  • INTERVIEWS - go behind the scenes with the principal, a teacher, a receptionist, a lunch lady, a janitor, a coach, etc. to show fellow students a side of your interviewee that they never knew.

  • EDITORIALS - express your own thoughts and ideas

    • Think Pieces - students can write about some aspect of their school - anything from school uniforms to the lacrosse team to exam season - and say what's good and bad about it, what they would change if they could, etc.

    • Advice Columns - encourage others to do something differently, or let writers be prompted by others who write in with problems they want advice on.

  • REVIEWS - how did the latest hit movie, book, or album do?

  • PUZZLES - crosswords, word searches, sudoku, word jumbles, etc.

    • Students who are excited about this can take their time designing a puzzle of their own.

    • Otherwise, you can find websites that will do the difficult part of puzzle-building for you. In this case, the student should make a few of them.

  • COMIC STRIPS - write/draw a funny scene in three or four panels.

  • CLASSIFIEDS - students can advertise and make proposals

    • Barter System - if you've got some collectibles or toys that you want, or maybe ones you don't want, let people know so you can trade with them.

    • Recruitment - if you're looking for more people to join your club or team, let them know here.

Keep in mind that with a monthly publication, news articles and announcements won't come out in a timely fashion.  Writers should reflect on past events that have a lasting effect or on future events that aren't terribly urgent.

Students in charge of the Classifieds section would edit and compile what others send in, instead of writing anything herself/himself.

Student Roles

Generally, I'd recommend each student prepares one article, but it really depends on the size of your class, on their level of proficiency, and on the scope of the paper you want to do.  If may work better for some classes if students work in pairs, in which case I suggest one person does the research/interviews/whatever while the other does the actual writing.

Students could be assigned to the same section throughout the year.  This will give them the opportunity to grow more in that specific area.  And if they're the ones who chose their sections, they'll be more motivated to work on something they'll enjoy.  On the other hand, students can rotate through the paper, writing for a different section every month.  This gives the students a breadth of experience, and it keeps the material from getting dull.

If you've got a large class, you've got a lot to assign and a lot to edit.  You can address both problems by giving a couple/few students the role of editor; they'll read through to check for correct spelling, correct grammar, and appropriate language.  That will improve their own self-checking skills as well as ease your load once you look over everything yourself.

Publishing

Either you or one of your students will have to collect everything into a single document.  I encourage you to print it out, because it's not a newspaper until you do.  Have a copy of each edition in your classroom for your students to take pride in.

Where it goes beyond that is up to you and your students.  Maybe it just stays within the class, since the purpose was in the writing, not the readership.  Or maybe it goes out to the rest of the school, or out to the parents.  Sharing what you've done will give the students a sense of accomplishment.  As it's expensive to print, though, emailing a PDF of the paper is probably the way to go.


* The articles might not be very long, perhaps just a few paragraphs.  In fact, the whole newspaper might not be more than a couple pages.  And that's okay.  On the other hand, if your class is good at writing and enjoys do it, go for longer articles.

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