We have a section of the site called "Student Voices" where we ask teenagers to write about a news event or issue in their own voice.  Sometimes they take picture or even use video to tell the story.  The question is: is this useful to you as a teacher?

Here are some examples:

Kids in Iowa Report From the Caucuses

South Sudanese Student Heads Home to Build Schools

Youth Reporters Interview Protesters at Occupy Wall Street in Zucco...

Why Are People in Greece Protesting in the Streets?

We'd love to know if you would use stories like these (please be brutally honest) and how you would use them.


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I picked the first link above on the Iowa Caucuses. The page about what they learned about journalism would only be valuable to me if I was going to do a report with a class - and even then, it wasn't exactly earth-shattering. Then, I thought I would see what they had reported - I can't find it! Even after searching for "Iowa caucuses", I still haven't found it. The page starts with something from Tampa Bay. OK, I was able to see the report on South Sudan. There is a lot of text that most students won't read, although some may click on the audio part.

Student journalism is tough to do well. I was a part of a team that sponsored 6 student groups from schools across the U.S. to document the Open Days at CERN National Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland a few years ago. This was done through physics teachers at each of the high schools. Someone else had rented the camera equipment and arranged for the students to use computers with specific software. We had made arrangements for the groups to visit certain sites at CERN as well as to meet with physicists. They also talked to some of the 25,000 people from local cities and communities who visited over the 2 days of the Open Days. The students did well given what was planned and what they were asked to do. The problem came when they were given high-end video cameras that recorded on tape and the software was what professional movie makers would use. I would have preferred that they be given Flip cameras (popular at that time) and iMovie to edit their work. They spent many late nights trying to figure out how to use the software (with 4 computers for 6 groups) to create a final project.

I am currently working as a math consultant with a Career and Technical Education TV Broadcasting class (among others) in Indiana. The students spend 3 hours per day Monday-Friday for an entire semester in this class. They produce a 1/2 hour video news (mostly) program each week plus cover an event or 2 each week. I have come to realize that there is much more to student journalism than camera equipment, software and students. One group of students in the class talked about creating an animated news show for kids their age. This might be a good way to reach teenagers and younger with the news of today.

I don't have the answers as to how to do student journalism well. I do know that a video project takes a lot of advance planning, training and practice. I would like to say that the students that do participate in such projects learn a lot regardless of what they are able to produce.

Hey Beth -- The Iowa kids are finishing up their video report in a week or two -- I can see how their tumblr "report" was disappointing.  Please look at http://www.studentreportinglabs.com -- that's where we really tackle video journalism.

As for better examples of Student Voices, how about:





Thanks for your candid response, I really appreciate it!

I agree that I think student journalism can be hard to do well. One project that went really well though was this hour long documentary that a group of young students from northern California produced. It's won some awards but was made entirely by a couple of teenagers and one community leader. It's about how a group of high school students helped lead their city closer toward educational equity and better community race relations. It documents about a decade of community events. It was quite inspiring. 

One thing I like about the film and using it in the classroom is that they made handouts, a discussion guide and teacher notes to accompany the film. So while I can still show clips of the film or use it however I want to, I also have some helpful structures to follow if I want to. In essence, they were always thinking about how teachers/students would consume their work. I think that's something that's missing from a lot of student media projects today--projects are beneficial to the people making them but aren't usable to others.

Check it out:



I also work with the NewsHour team, and we have been experimenting with ways to write short lesson plans surrounding these "Student Voices" to make them more valuable in the classroom. Here is a very recent example of a multimedia student-produced piece surrounding the anniversary of the Arab Spring, with a lesson plan we created to go with it. The student piece is here, and the lesson plan here. Would you use this lesson plan, or part of it? Which part(s) were most valuable, which could you do without? What would you add? Thanks!



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