If your middle school currently doesn't have a newspaper, then you might want to jump on the bandwagon. Not only is it a great way to connect kids to writing, reporting, and journalism, but it creates a sense of community and gets kids involved in citizenship around their school.
1. Organize a Team or Club
The school paper is an important publication. It should include middle school reporters, publishers, editors, and content creators. You can publish it in paper or online. Follow these simple steps to get started.
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2. Try Teaching a Journalism Teaching Unit
Get students interested in what journalism is with some terrific classroom activities to peak their interests and challenge students. There are likely going to be some students who start to pull ahead of the pack and those are the ones you'll want to invite to the journalism club.
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3. Idea for Articles: School News
Once you have your crew and they know their expectations, it's time to start brainstorming article ideas. The first and most obvious is school news; sports, science fairs, and school policies are all just some of the topics reporters can cover.
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4. Idea for Articles: Editorials
The opinions of the editorial staff should not be overlooked. Journalism students should have the opportunity to express their ideas on school happenings to keep readers engaged and interested.
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5. Lesson Basics: Writing an Article
Teaching kids how to make sure their articles follow the format of a traditional newspaper article is important but easy with the basic resources listed here on Pillnut Press.
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6. Ideas for Content: Funnies
Allow the creative students to utilize their skills to make a comic strip. Most kids in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade won't know what a comic strip is, but with a little direction, they can get them going in no time.
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7. Ideas for Articles: Current Events
Are current events creating a murmur around the school? Hit major stories by allowing students to peruse actual newspapers to fact-check and then do their own research on them.
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8. Ideas for Content: Calendar of Upcoming Events
Calendars are a great addition to any publication. Middle school students will appreciate having all their information in one place.
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9. Ideas for Content: Feature Story
Allow your students to take turns creating a feature story to headline the newspaper. This type of story allows middle schoolers to really express their journalistic style while still reporting the facts, details, and interviews.
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10. Ideas for Content: Advice Column
The paper can become an interactive resource when you get other students involved by allowing them to submit questions to gain advice circling around their own middle school lives and harder challenges.
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11. Go Digital
Do you have limited funds for a printed publication at your school? Give middle schoolers an extended challenge by having them practice their typing and word processing skills on the computer while creating their news stories.
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12. Ideas for Content: Reviews
What middle schooler doesn't like to give his or her opinion? Whether it's on the current trend style, movies, school curriculum, or extra-curricular activities, allow your students to express themselves and practice freedom of speech in a safe, responsible way.
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13. Ideas for Articles: Educational Articles
Students learned something that they just can't keep to themselves. Allow them to write an educational article that explains how to do something, or something important that they learned and think the rest of the school should know.
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14. Keep the Journalism Team Engaged With Fun Activities
Whether your journalism team is new to one another or they've been together for a while now, students will need some occasional team-building activities to keep things running smoothly and prevent discord. These ideas will work great for all middle school grade levels.
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15. Invite Guest Writers to Increase Buy-In
Going back to the idea of interactivity and resourcefulness, allow students who are NOT on the team to create guest articles every now and again. Guest spots often create intriguing articles and offer an opportunity for a new viewpoint and break up any monotony that might occur.
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16. Have Students Read Other Student Papers
Before you have your students jump into the world of middle school newspapers, it might be a good idea to have your group start brainstorming ahead of time by collecting school papers from other places to read and research. Have them write down what they like, don't like, what works well, what designs or templates they like, and more.
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17. Content Idea: Caption that Photo
Host a weekly contest where you post a random photo and ask the student body to "Caption that Photo" for a prize. Yet another creative way to turn the paper into a connective and entertaining resource.
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18. Content Idea: Staff Interviews
Create entertaining articles by allowing young journalists to interview staff members at your school. This is an entertaining way to allow students to get to know the staff as people, and not just as adults in charge.
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19. Content Idea: Explain Famous Photos
The middle school paper should be informational and entertaining. Help teach others some things by having your journalist team research the real information behind some of the world's most famous photos and watch the readership explode.
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20. Journalism Workshops
Create an outreach right in your school by having the newspaper club or team host journalism workshops! Get underclassmen interested in journalism, help cultivate great writing skills, and become a hub for learning where kids teach kids. Learn more about workshops and glean ideas to host your own below.
Learn More: School Journalism