As I reflect on this school year I have mixed feelings. It was another stressful year, but not without rewards. One highlight I’d like to share with you is my Merton Press Room. I teach fifth grade language arts and science. As I got to know my fifth graders at the beginning of the year, I noticed that this group had some students who showed great leadership potential. I decided to publish a fifth grade magazine. I’ve done this in the past, but not every year. This year I was hopeful we could publish student work and share it with a real, public audience.
I reopened my Merton Press Room with a magazine division and website division. I approached the students with leadership potential and asked them to take on an Editor’s role for our magazine. We have fifth grade editors for the news and opinions, arts and entertainment, science, and sports sections of our Mustang Magazine. I opened up the Press Room to all fifth graders and they could join as staffers. For the staffers, this was more of an enrichment opportunity. For the editors and monthly artists I would say it was closer to gifted programming. I was able to connect, challenge, and support my students at a more rigorous level through the Press Room. I was also able to connect our GT Coordinator with a few students who had some social and emotional issues that needed support. I found these students by forming relationships with them and getting to know them via the Press Room.
Then we had a mentor! Bailey is a former student of mine and she is a junior at Marquette University in their School of Journalism. She met with us virtually as well as in person throughout the year. She mentored the fifth grade writers about story ideas, story formats, and showed them how to interview people. Bailey even joined us when we presented to our school board!
Our Mustang Magazine publishes work from students in grades 3-7. Our main staff is fifth grade, but I asked our GT Coordinator to line up some other students in other grades to join our staff. We publish original art, paintings, digital art, videos, stories, news articles, feature articles, and poetry. The Press Room staff added more features as the year went on. Now we have surveys and photo contests too (See May Issue). Each month I was able to step back a bit more because the students stepped up a bit more to take initiative and write the magazine. It was a growing experience for all of us.
We publish one issue about every month. We share them on our Google Classrooms, our superintendent sends the links to our school board, and our principal tweets us out. In fact, our principal takes copies to the local Kwik Trip and they have piles of them next to the registers for community members to take and enjoy. We also have copies in our school offices and teachers’ lounges. To give you an idea of our publications, I’ve shared some:
May 2022: May the Force Be With You
April 2022: April Showers Bring May Flowers
March 2022: Spring in Our Step
January/February 2022: New Year New You
December 2021: Merton For the Holidays
I will miss my Press Room Staff as our year comes to a close. I hope they come back next year. Press Room is a great way to grow talent, build relationships, and serve gifted students’ needs. If you have any questions about this service, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
Sarah Kasprowicz, President
WI Association for Talented and Gifted
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