Extra! Extra! Creating & Coordinating an Elementary School Newspaper (part 2)

Extra! Extra! Creating & Coordinating an Elementary School Newspaper (part 2)

Written by: Jim Jeffries

February 28, 2024

I am glad you are back for the second installment of my blog about how to create and produce an elementary school newspaper (check out part 1 of the series if you missed it). This time, I am going to give you information and suggestions on how to conduct your monthly meetings.

My monthly meetings last for approximately an hour and thirty minutes. I break apart the meetings into multiple time breaks. I start the meeting by taking attendance and checking to make sure each student is wearing their newspaper shirt. The shirt is paid for by the school, so I expect the students to wear it to school the day of our meeting. If a student has skipped the meeting or did not wear their shirt, the student earns points. Here are a couple of important links that will help you. The policy sheet has the list of points given for negative things throughout the year. I use the monthly chart to keep track of how many points students have gained throughout the year. When students earn points, parents / guardians are notified of the points. Once a student earns ten points within the year, they are dismissed from the newspaper staff.

Next, I spend some time going over the previous month’s published newspaper. We talk about what students did very well and what students need to improve upon. Our goal is to make each month’s newspaper better than the previous month’s newspaper. We go through the paper article by article to talk about ways to improve. Some of the most common corrections students need to make throughout the year are making sure they include their name in their article, spelling other students’ names correctly, including a title, and writing with correct capitalization. One major issue every year is when students write their article in a “question – answer” format instead of just writing about the person using the answers.

“We keep all articles positive and uplifting to our school, students, and staff.”

The third part of our meeting involves article selection. Students are expected to come to our monthly meetings with several ideas for articles written down. I randomly select students one by one to select their article for the month. Students must write one article per month, but are welcome to write a second. We have several topics that are used routinely, including Student of the Issue Boy / Girl and Teacher Feature. There are many other topics that get selected throughout the year, such as articles about field trips, special events, etc. There are a few times that students choose an article topic which does not get approved. Some have included writing about a teacher or student for a random reason (Johnny is my best friend, so I want to write about him), writing about something not school related, or about a topic that could be divisive to our school population. We keep all articles positive and uplifting to our school, students, and staff.

Deeper learning prepares students to work collaboratively and direct their own learning.
Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for EDUImages

The final thing that happens during our meeting is selecting individuals to interview and what kind of questions need to be asked. For example, we try to rotate teachers that get selected for the Teacher Feature article between primary and intermediate teachers. With my newspaper staff only consisting of third and fourth grade students, they tend to want to interview intermediate teachers. I often remind them that our newspaper must be geared towards first through fourth graders, so inclusion of teachers at all grade levels is a must.

After our meeting, I send out emails to the various teachers and staff selected for interviews, as well as teachers of students who will be interviewed. I try to give students a little less than a week to come up with questions for their interview. So, our normal meeting day is the first Thursday of each month. I try to set up interviews for the following Tuesday or Wednesday. Articles are then due about two weeks after their interview. Finally, I make sure the parent and teacher of the newspaper staff member knows the time and date of the interview. This way, everyone knows the information and can help remind my staff member.

Once or twice a year, I bring in a special guest to talk with my newspaper staff members for approximately a half hour or so. The guest speakers have been other teachers, members of the local media, and former newspaper staff members. These guest speakers come in to talk with students about their writing skills, topics, and interviewing. One huge benefit of having a guest speaker is that students get to hear similar things that I have told them in previous meetings, but from another person. Guest speakers have been a valuable resource for my newspapers.

“Guest speakers have been a valuable resource for my newspapers.”

That is it for the second part in this series. The next blog will be about producing the newspaper, while the final installment will be about publishing the newspaper.

If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me at jjeffries@rcs.k12.in.us. If you decide to create a newspaper, I would love to hear from you. Even with my years of experience, I would love to see your newspaper. I feel I could get some ideas from you. Best wishes!



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  • Jim Jeffries

    I am in my 25th year of teaching elementary school. Twenty-one of those years have been in 4th grade, while four year were in 5th grade. Of the 25 years, 19 were at Tri Elementary School in Straughn, Indiana. I am currently in my 6th year at Fairview Elementary School in Richmond, Indiana.I have a huge interest in newspapers, which started at a paperboy as a 10 year old. I coordinated an elementary school newspaper at Tri for 19 years. This is the third year at Fairview for our newspaper, The Fairview Review.In my personal time, I love spending time with my wife, Melissa, and son, Jimmy. We love watching and attending sporting events. Jimmy and I coach Little League baseball in New Castle, Indiana. Our favorite vacation spot is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

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