student newspaper top 5 this year

This is the third year of our school having a student newspaper, and every year I find something new to love about working with our school reporters to produce it. I also learn and grow from the challenges. Here are the top 5 things I learned as a newspaper sponsor this year.

  1. Choice is important. The confident writers want to write for the paper without any hesitation, those who need a boost need to be told they can write about their interests. Like Pokemon or Samurai soldiers… who all died. Horribly. I enthusiastically support all interests- while respectfully requesting they write to their audience (school approrpriate and less dead soldiers is a request I have made this year).
  2. How to do stuff! My reporters jumped in when given the change to tell their peers how to make tea, select a good read, to skateboard…. they had lots of great ideas and researched to refine them!

3. Accountabilibuddies- huge. This year I started asking reporters to pause and meet with a buddy for a review of their PROGRESS. This wasn’t just a peer editing session, though we do those of course! I wanted them to talk with a peer about their research and writing SO FAR, and articulate plans and goals. This gave them a chance to “think aloud” about their writing and next steps. Great for those students who need that option to express themselves.

4. Increasing their opportunities to peer edit. I’ve tried this many ways, but this year I added a new layer. I put all of the articles in a slide deck when the writer considered it “finished.” We then had editing time when each student chose an article or two to read and commented on them. The comments were added in google slides and could be compliments or suggestions. No joke- my 5th graders caught errors I missed the first time and had GREAT suggestions!

5. SCHEDULES. This year I had some students who could not have open time limits and still produce an article on an expected timeline. I had to set specific schedules each day outlining the amount of time for research, for WRITING only, for peer review, and for a creative brain break. When I chunked our time together it improved both the output and confidence of some of my reporters.

I am so fortunate to have had this experience with writing a newspaper. I have used both Chromebooks (grants) and a lab to work with students with success. The Chromebooks definitely did help us “report on the go.”

gif it over for brush ninja

I have used brush ninja a few times this year to allow kids a chance to make their own animated gifs while illustrating their learning. One week we illustrated vocabulary terms, some students showed a change in a character’s feelings, and others showed natural disasters or events. No matter the task, brush ninja allows an element of creativity in their demonstration of understanding. We can’t get enough! Easy to use and customize, students learn quickly how to change a background, duplicate a slide to show change gradually, and to save to their google drives and share images with peers. Here are a few students samples, all quickly created in one class session.

three bitmoji rooms for November

November brings the usual Thanksgiving reading and activities, but I decided to celebrate with three different bitmoji rooms to spread out the theme goodness. This week is Polar Bear Week, so first a Polar Bear reading room! ( There are even polar bear noises, which may be my favorite part of the room. I also made a room to celebrate CANDY because who doesn’t have buckets of the stuff the week after Halloween? And then there’s the Thanksgiving and friendship reading room ( I always include both because some families don’t have big Thanksgiving celebrations.