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Just had our end-of-year wrap party for the @NewRoarTimes 3rd grade newspaper!

New Roar Times
The crew of the New Roar Times!

When a crew of 3rd graders approached me about helping them start a student-run newspaper, I jumped at the chance. Though I don’t usually work directly with kids in the younger grades, I’ll support anyone who asks for assistance. Especially if the Editor-in-Chief is a feisty future-President named Hope, and her crew is a group of adorable and ambitious classmates with an achievable goal. The third grade teachers (@dorakio, @kinderbanks, @zoepgrade3, @trcs, @franckystc) were all really supportive and enthusiastic about the endeavor too.

So, I carved out a 30-minute time slot during Thursday recess, and over 20 students gathered weekly to write and edit articles. I set up a Google Site where each reporter had their own announcement page and made a new post for every story. Hope wrote her own editorials and did some light editing on the reporters’ stories before I posted their work to our New Roar Times site. We used RebelMouse to power our digital newspaper, and since you need to be 13+ to use the site, I had a conversation with Hope’s mom about that. We share each article/post to our @NewRoarTimes Twitter feed as well.

These weekly work sessions with the New Roar Times crew were equally inspiring, productive, and fun. Children came up with original story ideas or volunteered to write about community events (The Day of Silence, the 8th grade musical, the Book Fair, etc.). At our wrap party today, we talked about continuing with our club next year when they are 4th graders. I also reminded them that Hope and I are available all summer via email if they have any article, book review, movie review that they’d like to publish.

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Today is the official launch of the @NewRoarTimes, the 3rd grade’s digital newspaper!



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!

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