School Library Focus on Journalism

In my district, the first day back to school for teachers is July 31. Around this time of summer I start thinking about my to-do list in regards to opening the school library and deciding what type of focus we’ll have this year. Last year our library theme centered on celebrating as many holidays as possible. We decorated, taught classes, and held holiday-based potlucks. This year we’re focusing primarily on journalism. Think Time Inc. or Conde Nast, but on a middle school level. By giving our school library a mass media theme, we can teach a huge variety of topics, formats, research methods, credible sources, and effective communication.

How do we plan on tackling this somewhat massive goal? The library has been doing a small student-run school newscast for a year. From that experience we have some very basic working knowledge of this subject. We also teach a related arts class. If we combine our small newscast with our related arts class we can create several news crews to create a variety of content. Because we believe in this idea and want it to be successful, we’ve come up with a few ideas to get started:

  • Volunteer to do a newscast for the school. Last year, in addition to dedicated class time, we had a few students come before class and record a few announcements, and we’d post it on the school website.

  • Create a space for a studio. We converted our AV room by adding an additional sign on the door that reads STUDIO. This works for us because there is a window where we can keep an eye on students without hovering over them.

  • Embrace different news platforms. Video is awesome but we plan on teaching them how to produce zines and podcasts also.

  • Secure a location to host student news. We plan on using the blog app integrated into our school website for viewing, but we also use Google Drive as a holding area for any digital media.

  • Recruit a news team. Before the news was under school library jurisdiction, students had to audition for the news crew. All we require now is a signed media release and the willingness to try something new.

  • Explore different types of lessons falling under the journalism umbrella. We’ve been using this site as a jumping off point, and many of our students will need to learn how to use recording/editing software and devices, like iMovie or Garage Band. Additionally, we can incorporate lessons on research, taking notes, and credible sources. 

  • Acquire devices and equipment. We use different devices based on what is being recorded. For podcasts and anything other than daily announcements–interviews, segments, special reports–we use iPads or a GoPro. The daily announcements are done traditional anchor-at-desk style and recorded on an iPad Pro.

    Invest in a decent mic if possible. We have a few iRig digital mics. We’ve had fun with these, and they seriously reduce the background noise.

  • Get others involved. The obvious collaboration for the school library is usually English, but journalism can cover a lot of ground. Students could conduct interviews about current events, record segments, or do special reports.

Turning our library into a middle school mass media project is our theme for the new school year. What’s yours? Does your school library have a yearly, monthly, or weekly goal?

Author: Mica Johnson

I’m a school librarian at Farragut Middle. I like the lib to be loud, messy, and full of student activity. I love tech stuff as much as I love books, and I’m part of an awesome rotating maker space.

Categories: Blog Topics, Makerspaces/Learning Commons, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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