by Becky Williams, 4th Grade Teacher
The classroom newspaper project idea began last year when I was visiting on the sidelines of a soccer game with a parent of a fourth-grader I had in class. She’s the publisher of the Hood River News, and we talked about how engaging it would be if students could see their work published as a student newspaper. She generously volunteered to design the paper if we, as a class, submitted articles.
To kick off the unit, Chelsea Marr (the parent mentioned before) and Joe Petshow, the president of Eagle Newspapers, came to our classroom to discuss the business of newspapers and graphic design. They also set up a fun lesson about journalism. Mrs. Jones, our principal, came into the classroom throwing a ball around and generally acting weird. Students then had to immediately write down everything they remembered about the incident, and then compare notes in groups. The differences in what they reported on that shared experience were surprising!
The next day, we looked at different newspapers and made a list of the different types of articles and parts of the paper. Students then chose how they’d like to contribute to the paper. We discussed choosing topics that will be of interest to our audience. A few students applied to be editors of our newspaper, and they had the final say about which topics would be published. They also helped with editing.
After that, students peer edited their articles. I had a few parents come in to help with final adult edits, too. Then students typed on the Chromebook (unless it was a comic or other type of art, which was scanned) and sent the article to Chelsea, the publisher, via Google docs. She did the hard work of putting it all together into a newspaper and sent it to us for the final review and edit before it went to press. We looked it over as a class and sent feedback to Chelsea.
The day when the paper arrives is SO exciting! There are enough copies for every student in all four fourth grade classes, so the authentic publishing experience is shared among students and families. The room is silent as students open their very own fresh copy to read. They laugh and show each other parts they wrote or parts they love. I usually get emails from parents, not even just parents in my class, sharing how much their family enjoyed reading the class newspaper.
Last year, I got a PTO grant to go to Hood River and get a tour of the Hood River News office and to see the printing presses, while they were printing. This year, each 4th grade class will have the opportunity to produce a newspaper and the whole 4th grade class will take a field trip to the Hood River News.
It’s a great project! None of it would be possible with Chelsea Marr donating her time and Eagle Newspapers printing donating printing costs. We’re so fortunate to have them as community partners!