The last two schools I worked at no longer had any sort of Journalism class or program. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get some sort of news media created by students in the schools without it costing me a prep period or increasing class sizes for my department.
Today, thanks to Google Suites, I’ve finally figured it out. There are TWO options. BOTH include the simple use of Google Sites.
Google Suites is FREE to anyone with a Gmail account. So, it does not matter if your school pays for extra special google add-on's, you will still be able to create these websites. When you create a Google Site using Google Suites, you will publish the website and anyone can see it, the school, the parents, the entire student body. However, only the people you choose can make edits to the website itself.
Option One: Set Up an Online Classroom Paper
When you start your online paper, send home a parent newsletter with the shareable link so parents can see what is happening in your classroom and in the school. When students finish work, have them add items to the Google Site you’ve created (you can share editing access to students, giving them the position of “editor”. After it has been approved simply hit the “publish” button and it will be available to the school and parents to read. Whether you want the news to be specific to your classroom, department, subject, or general school and community news is up to the administrator of the site.
Optionally you can elect yourself “Editor in Chief” or give the position to a trustworthy student either one for all classes, or one per class. While you’re at it, you give a variety of students special titles, making them in charge of specific content within the site.
Another way to utilize this option is to allow your students to create content in groups, where each week they will perform different aspects of a journalist’s duties. Possible group roles that could shift each week could include editor, reporter, photographer (explain how they have to use their own images or they will be violating trademarking and copy-write laws) cartoonist, columnist, and format specialist etc.
Possible categories for the School News Website:
This can include upcoming events, student or teacher showcases, business reviews from around town, movie reviews from student perspectives etc.
These types of stories would be focused on news pertaining to school personnel, functions, upcoming events, student government, community government, interviews, curriculum, graduation changes ect.
Any student who seems to be extremely passionate about a specific subject may be able to create a column than published each month or each quarter about student issues. This could be a “Dear Students” type of column or even a student support column.
These articles focus on student sports events throughout the year and can even cover student signings and parent interviews.
Have a Cartoon section where students can create their own comic strips or political cartoons.
This option is for your more creative students to shine.
Option Two: Create a Club
Whether your club meets regularly to work on the news publications after, before, or during school; or your club’s members complete their articles at home, on their own time, you can get student volunteers to run and organize your online news medium.
What’s great about Google Sites is that students are not limited to writing, photos, and uploaded drawings, they can actually create video pieces and upload them to the site. Now you have every form of news media all on your Google Site.
How to Create the Google Site
Step 1: Go to your Google Drive.
Step 2: Click New and hold the mouse over More
Step 3: Click on Google Sites
Step 4: Click on “create”.
Step 5: Click on “in new sites” (otherwise your website will look like a google search engine!)
A new tab will open with a blank website template for you and your students to transform into your journalism website. There will be a short tutorial that explains how to do some simple edits- I do recommend you and your students view these quick guides!
Step 6: Click the Share Button in the top right corner. Share with any collaborators or have students share with group members, so everyone can edit the website at the same time
Step 7: Create a website name and a title for your newspaper simply by typing into the corresponding text boxes
Step 8: Customize the theme using the tabs on the right side of the screen
Step 9: Start adding new pages, layouts, dividers, videos to design your website however you like
Keep it simple at first, and allow students to grow the site as they come up with their content. This way they feel overwhelmed trying to fill all the pages.
Google makes the integration of links, videos, images and audio files easy for even the lest technical teacher or student!
Final Step: Publish your site to students at the school and let them see what amazing writers, journalists, photographers, videographers and artists their peers are!
Now it’s time to enjoy the creative and ideas your students will want to share with your school. Talk to your principal about the new Journalism project you want to create. Even if the school posts their own news and updates, this idea is different, it is student led and student ran with teacher supervision. It will empower students and get them more involved in the school and creating a culture within the school that has more input from the students as to what they want.