Journalism Day during Skills Week

Written by Sally Hunt.

Journalism Workshops for Secondary and Primary schoolsI had the pleasure of taking Journalism for Schools to the second biggest secondary school in Wales, right at the end of term, during their Skills Week. I worked with a large group of Year 9's, around 100 students in all, which was challenging but worked well as I had lots of adult helpers to supervise them as they worked in smaller groups. This was the first time I had worked in a hall with a stage so I was a little intimidated by the thought of standing up there like a head teacher!!

The students all worked hard during the morning, learning about interviewing and note-taking. They wrote up their stories in the IT suites and I was very impressed that despite the large number of pupils there was no messing about and they were a very hard-working bunch.

In the afternoon students were interviewed on something personal and I incorporated two themes which were already being used in Skills Week. One: Changing our Streets around Brynteg: a Manifesto for Change, and two: A bad experience they have had (which could include bullying, or cyber bullying). They were allowed to be themselves, or someone else, an imaginary person if it helped them to play the role.

Journalism Day during Skills WeekAs the interviews and note-taking progressed I could see how much they had learnt from the morning's work. Some excellent articles were later produced and I was hard-pushed to choose the best ones. When I was marking them I was looking for those who had listened to the general rule of newspaper journalism: summarise the story in the first paragraph, and then go on to fill in the details. I was also looking out for accuracy and the use of quotes in the feature.

Well done to all of the students at Brynteg School who took part and are now starting in Year 10. I hope this insight into how English is used in the real world will help you understand the importance of writing accurately and checking your work, particulary if something is going to be published.

Castle Rock High School - you rocked!!

Written by Sally Hunt.

Castle Rock High School in Coalville, LeicsMy biggest challenge yet – 150 Year 7’s, across all abilities, at Castle Rock High School in Coalville, Leics … I did wonder if I would be spreading myself too thinly when I took on this full day workshop. But having some wonderful staff to work with meant the youngsters were all able to fully participate in the workshop as well as having some one to one time with me. I started off with presenting to a group of 50, in the drama studio, with the idea that I would do three talks to three groups of 50. However, this ran on into 45 minutes as I found myself faced with lots of enthusiastic children who were keen to ask questions! The teachers and I decided I would be fine mixing the next two groups together so I ended up with a lovely bunch of students – 100 in total – listening intently to my Powerpoint presentation.

After the presentations I whizzed from classroom to classroom looking at work, helping with some great interview techniques and making suggestions. In one classroom I was greeted enthusiastically by the teacher who said: “We’ve been waiting for you ….” It turned out they had all written questions for me so I perched on the desk while some very well-thought out questions were fired at me! One of the things I had taught them was ‘don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions when you’re interviewing someone’ ….. I was reminded of this by one of the students who asked me if my job affected my love life!!

After lunch I spent time marking some excellent articles and picking out ‘winners’ – no easy task with such a high standard of work. Back in the drama studio I gave them constructive criticism and read out some particularly good pieces of work. Then certificates were handed out to some great ‘junior journalists’ and we had a bit of time left for some more questions and answers.

I had a fantastic time at this school, everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic. The children were extremely well behaved and everyone tried hard. I took some camcorder footage which should be on here soon. It wasn’t exactly a testimonial to what she’d learnt, but one girl said she’d had such a good time today because it was so different from everyday work! 

Style and Editing

Written by Sally Hunt.

I’ve had a great time this month with a bright bunch of A/S students at Stanground Academy in Peterborough, talking about style and the structure of articles.

I pointed out to them that I had left my English lessons behind, in the classroom, 25 years ago, and had to learn a whole new way of writing for newspapers and magazines. I was trained as a reporter on a city newspaper and told to write ‘as if for a Sun reader’.

This was the rule of thumb for me on my local newspaper but I explained to my students that you have to adapt your style and vocabulary to the newspaper or magazine you are writing for, depending on the readership.

This was a specially written workshop and I surprised myself with all the long words I used! I wanted to tell them that you mustn’t ‘waffle’ on when you were writing a concise news article. I found the proper word for it – verbosity!

I then waxed lyrical about vocabulary, clichés, repetition, jargon, conjunctions and epithets!! Wow! I love English and really enjoyed being quite technical.

I also gave the students an exercise in editing and shortening an article. They really enjoyed themselves and the teachers said to me afterwards that what I had talked about had verified some of the things the students had been learning. It was good for all concerned to see that something they learn about in class is happening for real in the world of newspapers and magazines.

I had a lovely review from one of the 6th formers, Dariusz Pytiak. He emailed:

IMG 2268“On the Tuesday afternoon Sally came into our Academy and provided students who are interested in Journalism with a two hour workshop. Straight from the beginning we were introduced to the lexical field of journalism which I found very useful and helpful, as I’m an English Language AS student. Some of the words I’ve never seen in my life so I definitely benefited from that workshop. The terminology used in journalism will definitely help me with my future coursework. I really enjoyed learning about various techniques used in journalism, especially the style of writing and the whole idea of how to properly construct a good article. Moreover, what I found extremely effective was how Sally ran her presentation – she interacted with the class, which made the whole event much more interesting and enjoyable. Furthermore, I was really interested in the process of becoming a journalist and the requirements of it – Sally explained everything to us in detail, which left me with no doubts. I enjoyed the exercise we were given – we needed to edit one of the articles and make it shorter which was pretty enjoyable, as I could see what being a sub-editor is like.”

School's back

Written by Sally.

Well, the summer is well and truly over and schools are back, lessons are being planned and lovely new school shoes are getting scuffed!

It was an exciting summer for me as I got married, so my name has once again changed. My students just call me Sally now as I have two different surnames on my articles! With hindsight I should have just kept my maiden name for my ‘writing name’ like many doctors and professional people do.

This week the magazine I edit is going to press and I’m being kept busy as I’m writing several features as well. I’m keeping a day free to spend planning for Friday’s workshop at Stanground Academy in Peterborough. It’s a totally bespoke workshop as the school is brand new and I’m working with a group of students, including some year sixes from nearby primary schools, to write a newsletter about the new school. This will involve lots of learning how to do interviews and write up stories in the morning, before setting off in the afternoon to do the real thing.

Key Stage 2 Listening goals expect pupils to listen, understand and respond appropriately to others and learn to identify the gist of an account or key points in a discussion as well as evaluating what they hear. They will do this by asking relevant questions to clarify, extend and follow up ideas.

Under Planning and Drafting pupils need to learn to plan - note and develop initial ideas, draft - develop ideas from the plan into structured written text and revise - change and improve the draft. They then need to proofread - check the draft for spelling and punctuation errors, omissions and repetitions and present their written work (either on screen or paper) in a neat, correct and clear final copy.

All of the work they will be doing with me will be meeting these National Curriculum requirements while the students have some fun and learn about the reality of life as a journalist.

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