Give Them The Tools and Get The Heck Out of The Way

This year I’ve been working hard on a bold experiment – put the kids in charge.  And the results have been great.  The fruits just keep on coming.

My yearbook staff is hitting their first deadline.  We were set back a little by Hurricane Ike, but we’re working hard to make a comeback.  Today several of the staff were cranking out new pages.  They have some really great ideas.  They are working on a theme that plays off the popularity of the iPod-like super bright colors and cutout silhouette images.

The theme pages are starting to look really good.

My newspaper and yearbook staff both like using Newsroomdirector.com which has been a great success for us.  Most of my kids have some kind of internet access at home and can work on their stories after school or on weekends.  There is no excuse for not getting it done.  And you never left your copy at home.

It also saves time and ink.  We don’t have to make three or more copies of every story to mark it up.  Some kids to still print out their corrections, but most don’t.

My broadcast kids really are owning their show too.  They pick the topics and create the segmetns.

What I like best is that they decide, they work and they create.  The only thing I do is teach and enforce the standards.  Like Chef Ramsey says, “Your food, my standards.”  Nothing leaves our journalism kitchen until it meets standards.  I like it; they like it too.

It has given me a lot more time to work with kids who need help and to help only when I’m asked.  That has made my kdis more self reliant and they are learning more, faster.

And finally our 2008 Yearbook has been named a semi-finalist for a national award!  W00t!

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4 Comments

  1. My yearbook staff is checking out Newsroomdirector. Thanks for the tip! We’ve been using Google Docs for the past year, but might be ready to move to something a little more sophisticated.

  2. It was definitely worth the small cost for us. We’ve already saved enough in paper and toner costs. Plus less lost time and effort.

  3. First off, congrats on your (almost) award! Is this the Pacemaker? Second of all, even though I subscribe to the “let the kids do it” mentality, I still get up in their business when they do something REALLY wrong. I can only be “hands off’ for so long…

  4. Not a Pacemaker – I wish!

    I agree with you. There is a difference between putting them in charge and Laissez-faire. One of the things we did at the start of the year was spend three class periods hammering out a class constitution. It spells out their responsibilities as well as mine. It also spells out areas where I have partial or complete veto power. And lastly it spells out the penalty for not getting stuff done.

    But there were more fruits today. One of my editors came to me with information about one of the staff members who has thrown in the towel. Zero work. She will be leaving us at the end of the semester. In the meantime her press pass will be suspended and she will basically be my class aide’s aide. The most menial work possible. It is all spelled out in the constitution. No work = no fun.


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