Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Club Spotlight: Newspaper

This post could also be titled "My Love Affair with Google Apps."

I'm not entirely sure where my head was at when I decided to pursue a speech/communications teaching minor (it definitely wasn't thinking about marketability), but the unlikely course of study has surprisingly served as a handy companion to my language arts major on several occasions. Despite my middle school not having any speech-related electives, the opportunity to semi-utilize my endorsement arose last year when a 6th grade student inquired about starting a newspaper club. Since I was a new language arts teacher and journalism was on the list of subject areas my speech endorsement covered, I figured it made sense for me to volunteer.

Now I co-advise the club with one of my ELA teaching partners (the only other person to volunteer, I'm assuming), and we have a small but dedicated staff of about 6 kids. We meet once a week at lunch, and every couple months we publish an electronic "newspaper" to our school's website that covers anything from school news to world events and media reviews.  As a new club there has definitely been a bit of a learning curve, but there's been one simple tool that has made all of our lives infinitely easier: Google's Apps for Education.

 In Google Classroom, I created a "class" specifically for our club. That's where we post the article sign-ups for each issue. In Google Drive (which students can access in or out of Classroom), we set up a folder that contains a Google Slides "template" for each issue. I pre-loaded our border  image on each slide, so students can type their articles directly onto the template and then we can arrange and format everything as needed. Last year we used Microsoft Publisher, and it was a nightmare trying to input all the articles and format everything in time for our publishing deadline! Using Google Slides allows multiple students to work on the same document at once, and it's much easier to see everyone's progress on each page. At the end, we simply save it as a PDF and publish it to our school's webpage.

So moral of the story: if you're not using Google Drive or Forms or Sheets or Slides or Classroom (the list could go on and on), and you want to feel like a highly organized paperless ninja who effortlessly collaborates like a boss, I highly recommend you check it out!

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