[Today we have a guest post by Michelle Habrych who tells us Why We Should Do a Homeschool Newspaper with Our Students!]
There is nothing quite like the thrill of seeing your byline above something you have written for publication. The bug bit me in sixth grade when I wrote my first review – of the brand-new TV show “ALF”— for my school newspaper. After that first paper was printed and sold in the school lunchroom, I was hooked. I went to college and studied journalism, eventually spending a year in that career before becoming pregnant with my son.
Thirteen years later, this homeschooling mom started a newspaper with the junior high and high school students at our homeschool group! I believe you should do the same. Here’s why.
Why start a Homeschool Newspaper:
First, journalism is a different style of writing than most people are used to doing in school. It’s “just-the-facts, ma’am.” Journalists ask who, what, when, where, why, and how. Then they take those facts and write up the story, keeping opinion out of it. It is meant to be short and to the point, as opposed to a paper in which the writer needs an introduction, three paragraphs, and a conclusion. The challenge of the reporter is to convey the information in as few words as possible, while attracting attention with a good headline and smart lead.
Another thing about being a reporter that students find difficult, but is actually very good for them, is talking with people they don’t know to get information for articles. Our homeschool group has 80 families, and the newspaper staff has 10-15 people. I am always challenging these students to talk with people they don’t know to get the information they need, whether it is in person, on the phone, or via email. It stretches them and makes for a better publication.
An unforeseen benefit of a newspaper for our group was the ability to have a time capsule of our homeschool year. Some families kept the papers to have a reminder of the events of the year. Our newspaper is written for our homeschool group. That was a prerequisite for any news story, review, feature, or editorial the students wanted to write; it had to be about our students or be of interest to our students.
Collaboration and Editing Skills:
Collaboration was critical to the success of our publication: if one person dropped the ball, the rest suffered. Students also learned editing skills by proofreading each other’s articles. They learned to take constructive criticism.
Not Part of a Homeschool Group?
What if you don’t belong to a homeschool group? You could have a family newspaper or start one with a few homeschool families in your area. Writing in journalistic style could also be used to assess learning in different subjects. My friend has had her son write articles for his own newspaper about a historical topic, pretending to be a reporter on the scene.
How to Teach Journalistic Style:
How do you teach journalistic style if you’re unfamiliar with it? Two resources I have used in my class are inexpensive (or free) and will help you along the way. The Young Journalist’s Book: How to Write and Produce Your Own Newspaper by Donna Guthrie and Nancy Bentley is out of print but may be found in your library or on Amazon. A free resource I use to reinforce what we learn in the book is the “Reporter’s Handbook,” a free PDF from Constitutional Rights Foundation.
Do you have your kids write a homeschool newspaper? Share your other tips in the comments below!
Michelle Habrych is a homeschooling mom to a 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter. She loves teaching in hands-on ways, such as creating a newspaper for her homeschool group.
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