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9-12 | Reading & Language Arts | Real World Application or Field Study
Station WMVS in Wisconsin
My Classroom Innovation
As the advisor of The Arrowhead school newspaper, I watched our readership plummet. Our paper was printed monthly, but students weren’t reading it. And the editors said they weren’t attracting the readers they wanted. So I turned to PBS. My students watched videos and completed the lessons on the.news: Newspapers in the Digital Age (Language Arts). They looked at the.News and YOU.edit and applied those tools to our struggling newspaper. First, we decided to make our paper something we had never heard of: micro-level. Then, we decided to put our newspaper online and only come out with a print edition for special occasions. From PBS, my students understood how the newspaper industry has adapted—and my students too wanted to adapt and stay relevant. My students agreed with PBS—and especially with how literate they are in 21st Century Skills—and they found little need for a print version. Then my students publicized. They posted links on websites. They sent emails to staff, administration and parents. They sent text messages to students. And they linked The Arrowhead to their Facebook and Twitter pages. And almost instantly (as things happen in the digital age of 2011), their changes worked! They were getting thousands of hits each month. They received comments on their articles and the number of letters to the editors skyrocketed. My students found many positives in making our newspaper online and micro-level: it's easier for them to reach a broader audience. Further, timeliness is paramount with up-to-date, daily online editions. In the end, my students continue to have success, not only in the number of hits per month, but also in the dozens of students whose articles were chosen for the National Edition of My High School Journalism—and it’s all because of PBS!
How Students were Engaged
The students were so engaged and interested because this was their paper—it was something they worked on daily. And they wanted to make it the best it could be. In the end, students demonstrated learning and growth when they were able to: • Set and have a goal they reached (that made sense to them) • Be internally motivated • Be positively challenged • See they are useful in the learning process (and their own learning) • Be given a chance to practice what they’ve learned • Produce quality work they’re proud of • See the outcomes of their learning • Do something • Complete an enjoyable assignment • Take charge of their learning • Become competent in the subject • Be partners with the teacher in their own learning • Self-evaluate their learning Indeed, the PBS videos and lessons inspired students to learn and grow: the focus was on quality work, students built partnerships, there was increased accountability, the process fulfilled students’ needs, and the students were asked to self-evaluate and work on personal improvement. This, in turn, increased the students’ self-esteem and the quality of our newspaper. The students had success using the PBS resources. I had success too. I enjoyed my class more. The students were easier to work with, they were internally motivated and they had clear, measurable goals. Indeed, in meeting the students’ needs (and providing them with choice and the opportunities to create quality work), students exceeded any expectation I could have set for them. In the end, students found ways to learn that worked for them; they applied what they were learning to their own lives and they found self-esteem and confidence.
PBS Program/Content Used
the.news: Newspapers in the Digital Age (Language Arts)