Children As Journalists: LIVE!

In the summer term of each school year, my school has a Green Day.  Green Day is when we focus all our lessons on the environment and all the children learn about the impact we can have on the environment, be that good or detrimental.  There is always an abundance of outside agencies and companies in school to celebrate Green Day with our children and to run workshops about their particular niche.

For Green Day 2012, I wanted to do something that had been ticking over in the back of my head for a while.  Nowadays, news coverage is a 24-hour business.  It is rare that something major happens on the other side of the world and we don’t know about it within a couple of hours.  I wanted to recreate this sort of effect in school by setting up a newsroom to cover and report on Green Day throughout the day.  As I was a Year 5 teacher at the time, I decided to open the possibility of being on the Green Day Media Team to the two classes of Year 5 children.  They had to apply through a Google Form (having been emailed the link to their brand new hotspurcloud.com email addresses!), stating why they wanted to be on the Green Day Media Team and in which ‘crew’ they would like to be:

  • Blog Crew: responsible for updating the Green Day blog throughout the day with news and stories.
  • Photo Crew: responsible for taking photos of different events and uploading them to the blog using Animoto.
  • Hotspur TV Crew: responsible for taking videos throughout the day, editing them and then uploading them to the HotspurPrimaryTV Youtube channel.
  • Podcasting Crew: responsible for using EasySpeak mics to record interviews, edit them using Audacity, then upload them to Audioboo before embedding them on the blog.

I had 35 applications and ended up taking everyone on board for the day, spread across the 4 ‘crews.’  So on the morning of Green Day, the blog went live at greenday2012.hotspurblogs.net and I assembled the Media Team to give them their tasks.

What happened next was amazing: the children took their tools, their ‘Access All Areas’ passes, and went out to be real journalists, recording and reporting on every aspect of Green Day in school.  They interviewed children in classes, they recorded the whole-school assemblies, they took lots of photos and the blog began to fill up. 

For a few days beforehand, I had been trying to drum up some interest on Twitter.  While doing this, I asked some journalists if they would be able to Skype with us to tell the children about their job and to give them some tips on how to best be a journalist.  All the local newspapers ignored my requests.  All the local radio stations ignored my requests.  All the local TV journalists ignored my requests.  However, Chris Smith from Newsbeat on BBC Radio 1 got back to me and was very enthusiastic and willing to help.  At 10am on the morning of Green Day, we Skyped live with the newsroom at BBC Radio 1 in Broadcasting House in London.  We had a quick tour of the studio and Chris gave the children some tips for the rest of the day.  This help was invaluable.  Speaking to a real journalist about their job, then listening to him do it live on the radio five minutes after his Skype call with us was simply amazing.

At the end of the day, the children were ecstatic and they were extremely proud of what they had achieved.  They definitely learned a lot by being part of the Media Team and the end result of having a permanent reminder of the day on the blog is testament to this.  I would most definitely do this again, only next time, it’ll be even bigger and even better.  Ideas are going through my head.  Watch this space.

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