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Publish a School Newspaper and Meet TAKS Writing Objectives Michael Connolly West University Elementary School Houston ISD What are the TAKS Writing Objectives? TAKS Writing Rubric from the TEA website

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publish a school newspaper and meet taks writing objectives

Publish a School Newspaper and Meet TAKS Writing Objectives

Michael Connolly

West University Elementary School

Houston ISD

what are the taks writing objectives
What are the TAKS Writing Objectives?
  • TAKS Writing Rubric from the TEA website


parallels between good journalism and taks writing requirements
Focus and Coherence


Development of Ideas



Five W’s

Inverted pyramid style

Smart Research:

Open interview questions

Follow-up questions

Editorial Writing

Proofreading, rewriting, spell check, grammar check

Parallels between good journalism and TAKS writing requirements


getting started
Getting Started
  • Hardware and Software Needed
  • Organizing time, students and files
  • Find other teachers that will support your work


software hardware


Editing images




Microsoft Word

Adobe PhotoDeluxe

Digital camera

Epson Perfection 124OU

Microsoft Publisher


first steps decide when to meet
Class time


Don’t have to work late

Don’t have to worry about students getting picked up

Partner with other teachers


Less enthusiasm

After school Club time


High Interest

Same group of students overtime


Work late

Have to worry about students getting picked up

First Steps: Decide when to meet


after school club
After School Club

Get approval from principal.

Decide time and place.

Announce to teachers, students and parents.

Copy and distribute applications.

E-mail teachers guidelines for recommendations.

Review applications and recommendations.

Select 12-18 students.

Begin weekly meetings.


meet with all applicants
Meet with all applicants.

Explain role of “free-lance reporters” to those not selected to be staff reporters.

Pass out guidelines

Parent permission letters

Snack and parent volunteer sign-up.


first staff meeting
First Staff meeting

Choose Newspaper name

What's New At West U

Monthly Mustang

West U Times

West U. News

Determine columns & solicit story ideas

Record roles and assignments.


sections of the paper
Sections of the Paper

Front page

What’s Happening?

Teachers and Students


Editorials, Advice

Comics and puzzles






Comic artists


story ideas
Story Ideas
  • Keep a Future book by month of upcoming events at your school.
  • Use a “beat” system to assign students to a grade level or teacher.
  • Use a story tip sheet where anyone can submit story ideas.


  • Extra points for Language Arts
  • Snacks
  • Picture in the paper
  • Use the digital camera
  • See your name in print


record assignments
Record Assignments

For each issue


track assignments
Track Assignments

For the year – to prevent duplication interviews


file management
File Management
  • Save student files to a server – note exactly where it is saved and name of file create a signoff sheet for students to use when finished
  • Check off on assignment sheet when complete
  • Write picture file # on assignment sheet
  • Students type picture # on article


2 nd meeting
2nd Meeting

Combine instruction with work.

Help students create good interview questions.

What would our readers like to know?

What’s interesting?

Open vs. closed questions.

Personal background.

Review assignments each meeting.


3 rd meeting
3rd Meeting

Instruction: Covering Events






Review assignments.


student checklist
Student checklist
  • Use default fonts on Microsoft Word
  • Title
  • Byline
  • Did you answer the 5 W’s
  • What interesting details could be added?
  • Any follow-up questions needed?
  • Spellcheck – check spelling of names and places
  • Peer edited – have one of your friends read the article.
  • Photo taken?
  • Photo # written on article?


4 th meeting

Article -------------------

Article -------------------

Article -------------------

Article -------------------

Article -------------------

4th Meeting

Editors use chart paper to layout their section of the paper.

Save to network folder.

Hand everything in for publication.


5 th meeting
5th Meeting

Final review of paper before distribution.

Start process over again.

Brainstorm ideas for next issue.

Make assignments


6th meeting
6th Meeting

Review paper.

Any articles left out?

Acknowledge everyone’s effort.

Critical review +’s and -’ s

Record changes for next time.


press conference
Press Conference


sample issues
Sample Issues
  • January 2003
  • December 2002
  • November 2002


optional field trip
Optional: Field trip

Field trip to the local newspaper

Check with safety policy of newspaper before visit to find out what age restrictions are in place for public tours.


additional instructional units
Additional Instructional units
  • Techniques for taking good digital pictures.
  • Inserting/editing pictures into MS Word.
  • Peer editing.
  • Guest speakers: Reporters or Comic writers such as Bill Hinds - ”Tank McNamara” Sports Illustrated for Kids


Houston Chronicle Instructional materials - Chronicle in Education

Children’s Express

Scholastic News Zone

Online Newspaper seminar

Kids In Print by Mark Levin, Good Apple, 1997

The Reporter’s Notebook by mark Levin, Mind Stretch, 2000. National Elementary Schools Press Association, an organization that helps elementary and middle schools start and improve school and class newspapers as a means of teaching real-world writing skills



text boxes text tool bar
Text Boxes/Text Tool Bar
  • Allows you to place text anywhere on page.
  • Can link boxes to continue columns from one column to another or from one page to another page

Choose the Text Box Tool from the Drawing Toolbar

After creating a text box link it to another (empty) text box by right clicking the first text box or going to the Text Box Toolbar and choosing Text box Link Tool



Text box link tool >


  • After scanning comics and inserting into the document
  • Add text to Comics with Text boxes

This is tasty ice cream!


picture toolbar
Picture Toolbar
  • Insert Pictures
  • Crop Pictures
  • Adjust brightness & contrast
  • Rotate
  • Invert


adobe photodeluxe
Adobe PhotoDeluxe
  • For improving the quality of pictures
  • Scanning Comics
  • Other editing


Picture formats
  • Bitmap - .bmp-photos
  • Gif – for cartoons
  • JPEG – Maximum resolution

Choose “Send to” from the file menu to pick format


microsoft publisher help
Microsoft Publisher Help
  • Tutorial website
  • Microsoft Publisher website