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.”

the read deal- writing for an audience

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 2.40.54 PMAs a former fourth grade teacher (in Texas that means writing test writing test writing test) and as a sometimes school newspaper editor, I have always valued authentic writing opportunities as far more valuable for students than out of touch exercises meant to help us pass a test.  When I searched for others who were doing just that- providing data and examples of authentic audience, I found fuel to pursue more real writing goals for kids. This presentation centers on using GSuite tools to help students produce pieces that are intrinsically motivating to publish because they are engaging and they can be shared with people OUTSIDE of the classroom for a real-world feedback session. Have a suggestion? Drop me a note (look, real-world writing). Click the image below to access the slide deck.

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summer bullet journaling and planning

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 3.54.14 PMYou know what is hard for me every summer? Planning and journaling and sticking to goals. It’s actually a little easier in the school months (though time is short) because I am on a schedule. In the summer somehow it’s 2:00 and I haven’t eaten lunch or made the bed.  The summer of 2020 is possibly the worst because I am planning…to stay home. But I do have some goals and tasks I need to accomplish for professional learning and some personal ones that my husband would really appreciate (the laundry room). To encourage myself I do what I always do in crisis, I read things. Especially quotes. And then I write them in my bullet journal. I downsized to a smaller bujo too, which doesn’t seem so overwhelming. I need a full size during school, but this size seems more reasonable when the day’s goals include washing the dog, watching a zoom, and vacuuming. Even a small effort can keep me moving toward my goals and the habit of WRITING- by HAND!

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“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!” ― Brian Tracy, author and motivational speaker

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” ― Pablo Picasso, painter

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln, former U.S. President

More motivational quotes