A few months ago, some 3rd graders approached me about helping them make a newspaper. While I primarily work with middle schoolers and faculty here at The School at Columbia University, I jumped at the chance to support these children. What’s better than helping a kid reach a goal?
As it turned out, the powerhouse behind the project is a pint-sized spitfire named Hope. Clearly a future CEO, Hope dubbed herself the Editor-in-Chief and rounded up classmates to form the Newspaper Club. Many of the participants are in Akio Iida and Harry Banks‘s 3rd grade class, so we meet in their room on Thursdays for 30 minutes while the rest of the grade is at recess. This 30-minute block has become a highlight of my week.
We use a collaborative GoogleSite to organize their articles. The students write, gather images, cite their sources, and comment on each others’ works-in-progress within this shared space. Once an article is complete, Hope is responsible for sitting with me (or her mom) and copying/pasting the text and any media from the GoogleSite to our public site (http://NewRoarTimes.com).
I looked at a lot of other platforms before deciding on Rebelmouse (though WordPress was a close second). Originally, I considered Popplet, Padlet, Glogster, and a bunch of other sites, but nothing sufficed in offering a Flipboard experience that you could control so easily and aggregate your own info with a variety of embedded media. The only issue about RebelMouse is that unless you pay $9.99 a month to “power” your Rebelmouse site, there is a “featured Rebelmouse users” box in the left sidebar and any of those users could be posting adult-oriented materials. Hence, you need to be 13 to use both Rebelmouse (and WordPress and Twitter) as per their Terms of Service, so I set up the spaces and only shared the password with Hope’s mom. I spoke with Don Buckley (Director of Innovation), Miriam Beyer (Director of Communications), Hope, and her mom before making these decisions.
I invited Hope’s mom to be an editor of our Rebelmouse site, so that she or I can login and monitor/advise Hope as she posts. I taught Hope how to tag, categorize, and tweet each post, so all of our articles are linkable and viewable from our Twitter too (@NewRoarTimes).
Please check out the inaugural New Roar Times!