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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Online Learning and School Newspapers

Online Learning and School Newspapers

Related Tags: Classroom Technology
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I've been fortunate enough to have been to a number of different schools in the US, and one thing that I've always been fascinated with is the idea of a school newspaper. I think it's a brilliant idea - students working collectively to increase awareness of particular issues, via a medium that positively encourages reading. How can it get any better, especially as an English teacher? So, I've taken the plunge - we've started an online newspaper, using Drupal as the content management system with the InnovationNews profile to help us out. I've got a band of intrepid reporters and photographers. Now, we've only been in operation a week or so, but this is what we've done so far: http://news.mrheggart.com/ Click on 'Check out the news' to find out more. So, what advice do we have out there for school newspapers?

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Christina Ingram's picture
Christina Ingram
English teacher and publications adviser

Looks like you're off to a great start. The only suggestion I have for you is to be sure that you don't need students to sign a waiver before publishing their name/photo on the net. Our school corp. has a waiver form that must be on file if I use a student's photo online. To avoid issues with waivers I usually only publish the first name of my reporters. You can view our school pubs site at
http://tinyurl.com/hhsprophet
My is generated through iWeb since we run a Mac lab.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator

Hi Christina,
And thanks for the timely reminder regarding privacy. All of our students sign an agreement for that purpose, so I'm okay with the photos, but it's important to keep that and other confidential information in mind.

I had a look at your website - it's excellent. Can I ask you a few questions about it? How often do you meet as a group? How do students submit assignments? Do you have a interview with students before they join the newspaper? What are some of the trials that you've experienced?

Thanks for your help!
Keith.

Christina Ingram's picture
Christina Ingram
English teacher and publications adviser

I teach an intro to journalism course that is a prerequisite for the publications class. We are on traditional schedule so we meet daily. The students write one story a week that they submit through Angel (blackboard type software).

Bram Moreinis's picture
Bram Moreinis
Director of Technology, Hudson Valley

Hi, Keith.

Your newspaper site is gorgeous...I didn't know about InnovationNews! Thank you.

I know of three other Drupal distributions designed to be newspapers: Prosepoint (very easy to use, perfect for a text-based project), Voicebox (a bit more complex, good for media sharing as well as text) and Open Publish (way overbuilt for a school).

I helped a teacher create a class newsletter for a history project where students took on civil war personae to debate the proposal to abolish slavery. Because they were hidden behind these historical identities, the work could all be public.

Here's the site:

http://news.springsdistrict.org

Here is a presentation and case study resources about the project:

http://empowered-teacher.com/springs

I've also organized student "Tech Scouts" (http://hvscouts.com) to do the reporting for newsletters highlighting technology integration for the school technology department, with "editorial introductions and afterwords" to catch aspects of the story the students missed in their interviewing, when the story that needs telling (from an editorial perspective) requires it.

-Bram

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator

Hi Bram
Thanks for your feedback regarding our site. It's early days, but we think we're headed in the right direction. I know about Open Publish, and I agree with you - a little bit too overbuilt for us (at the moment! In the future, who knows?)

I had a look at 'The Liberator' - it's an excellent resource. I was really impressed at the quality of the writing, too.

I'm really interested in your idea of 'Tech Scouts'. Something that I'm quite interested in is the concept of student voice - how can we find out about the students' learning, in their own words. The 'own words' part is, to my mind, the crucial element, so I'm excited by this idea of tech scouts and ways that we can adapt it to serve this purpose at my school.

Bram Moreinis's picture
Bram Moreinis
Director of Technology, Hudson Valley

The problem with giving students a voice is that you have to respond....where you have top-down, standards-driven schools, that's hard. But if you have a school community that's striving to dedicate itself to student-centered learning, it's a given!

Here's a WONDERFUL student voice vehicle site made with Drupal and supported by The Writing Project in New York:

http://youthvoices.net/

If you'd like to talk more about Tech Scouts, my Skype ID is bmoreinis (but I'm in Eastern Standard Time, so you might be better off using email - there's a contact form on http://empowered-teacher.com).

-Bram

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator

Hi Bram,
I finally got around to having a look at youthvoices.net I have to say that I was really excited by what I saw there. Real world tasks - or authentic tasks, as they are sometimes called are something that I find motivates and engages students much more than other tasks, where the only audience might be the teachers. Using the Web is a great way of ensuring student writing has a wide scope.

I added you on Google + - maybe I can ask you about Tech Scouts on there.
Keith

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