BTCF Blog | Journalism Class Helps Improve Student Literacy

BTCF Blog

Journalism Class Helps Improve Student Literacy

By Darryl Gangloff / March 12, 2019 / Educational Attainment, Grantee Spotlight
Journalism Class Helps Improve Student Literacy

A classroom at Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School in Hudson was recently transformed into a newsroom, giving fifth-graders the opportunity to enhance their literacy skills through lessons focused on journalism.

As part of the Junior Journalism project, which is supported by Berkshire Taconic’s Hudson Schools Arts and Humanities Fund, an estimated 150 students will participate in a comprehensive reading and writing curriculum throughout the 2018-19 school year that focuses on taking notes, researching topics, interviewing subjects, hosting press conferences with community members, drafting articles and creating the front page of their own newspaper.

Their tools include a reporter’s notebook, handmade press passes and copies of the New York Times, which highlighted the class in its Learning Network section: “We appreciate how this curriculum uses The Times to engage even young students — and empowers them to do their own reporting, then celebrates the results.”

The program was launched in 2016 by School Life Media, a nonprofit organization founded by Hudson resident Peter Meyer that aims to “improve student academic outcomes by developing programs that promote an appreciation of knowledge-based learning.” Meyer noted that the Hudson City School District has seen an increase in state ELA test scores for students who have completed the Junior Journalism class.

Meyer wants his students to feel confident asking questions and find inspiration to learn more about the world around them, an ability he has mastered over his 40-year journalism career through his work with magazines such as Harper's, Vanity Fair, National Geographic, New York, Life, Time and People.

“These kids are curious,” he said during the final class for a group of approximately 20 fifth-graders last month. “They have all the instincts.”

Principal Mark Brenneman stopped by the newsroom and was impressed by the hard work of the young reporters. “The program is truly a difference-maker in our students’ progression as writers,” he said.

As the journalists put the finishing touches on their front pages, adding colorful drawings and rewriting their articles, Meyer asked a question to the group: What have you learned this year?

A young girl stood up, pencil in hand, and stated with confidence, “I’ll always remember to ask the five Ws: who, what, when, where and why.”

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