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My first SJW has been amazing!


I’m ashamed to admit this is the first Scholastic Journalism Week I’ve ever participated in during my five years of teaching, but what an experience it has been so far … and one I will be repeating annually until I retire.

I don’t say that because I’ve had some sort of life-altering experience or even one big thing that has changed the way I look at my job or the First Amendment or scholastic journalism.

Instead, it’s been a bit of a slow steady trickle of little things. Monday I asked my students to just fill out a little sheet about why they love newspaper or yearbook. And while I did learn who was just as sarcastic as I am, I also learned some really nice things about why students love scholastic journalism.

Tuesday was a work night for my newspaper staff. I had students who were there from 2:20 until 9 p.m. on a day when the paper wasn’t going to bed the next day. I spoke to an AP history class about the importance of journalism and journalists being free of bias and the general state of the media. A nice little discussion that popped up out of the blue.

Wednesday was a nice day of little triumphs as well. The Student Partners – follow them on Facebook or at – are starting to really get some stuff done. My newspaper staff made the decision to jump a 2,000 word profile on a wrestling champion from our newspaper to our website, an interesting decision in our new little world of scholastic journalism. The yearbook and newspaper kids started Facebook fan and friend drives to increase the reach of their groups. I personally was able to contribute eight new people to our drive in about the span of three minutes. Students on each staff sent thank you notes to the people they interact with most in the course of your duties – and I got great feedback from those people through e-mails. And finally, a photojournalism student told me I was her favorite teacher … in front of another one of her teachers. Nice!

And that was just me. Karen Barrett, up in Wheeling, Ill., told us Wednesday of the great things her students did to help keep one of her introductory classes. Sarah Nichols tweeted some photos of her staff participating in Chad Rummel’s Bring It Day that he shared on the listserv – I’m using it too, my editors love it! – and Aaron Manfull posted some interesting numbers on about web traffic from scholastic news websites from around the country. I’m still trying to figure out what those numbers mean to my newspaper staff, but they are a nice instrument to have and enable us to kind of compare what we are doing on the web. Carrie Faust put the smack down on some ignorant folks out in Ventura, Calif. in the comments section of a story about some parents who were attacking the student journalists who conducted a survey about sex in their high school.

I’m positive I’ve missed some great things that you all, my colleagues, have experienced this week. Share what you’ve been for SJW in the comments section of this post. They don’t have to be huge deals, it’s those little victories that keep us going.

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