I know that I have had students write newspaper articles in my English classes. One assignment that comes to mind is one after completing To Kill a Mockingbird - students had to work together to create a Maycomb County paper that would be full of articles that were relevant to the townsfolk. Looking back, I wonder how relevant and engaging that assignment really is. I remember having students look at sample newspapers and analyze text features such as page layout, photos and other visuals, and captions. We talked about bias in journalism, and used samples of current articles to understand how to be informative, yet concise. Students had to collaborate to work out issues of space, location of different articles, content to be included, and to eventually "put the paper to bed". It was fun and interactive, but is this how students get their news?
As a teacher, I know that I get many ideas, for what to do and what not to do, from how I was taught. Education is a strange career to get into - everyone went through schooling in one form or another, so everyone feels as though they are an expert in the field. I remember doing newspaper analysis and writing newspaper articles, and I remember enjoying it. I took the activity, adapted it for my content, curricular outcomes, and students, and did something similar. One of my students might eventually become a teacher and do the same thing. But will his students know what a newspaper is? Will they be creating something that is a relic of the past?
Since communication is such a huge part of English Language Arts, we often look for authentic forms of reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing that we can bring into our classrooms. Are newspaper articles still a part of this list? Or have they been replaced by blogs and comment sections?
Food for Thought... what do you think about students analyzing and writing mock newspapers in class? Engaging or passe? What alternative forms of writing do you use to engage your students?