West Journalism Class Launches Online News Site

West Journalism Class Launches Online News Site
Posted on 01/17/2020
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west press collageJournalism class is back at Lakota West High School this year, but with a twist. “The students didn’t want to sit in a traditional English class,” teacher Mary Mahoney said. “So I threw my lesson plans away.” 

At one time, the school produced a student run newspaper, but when major cuts hit the district in 2013, the journalism class was eliminated. Without a teacher willing to pick up the elective class, it was not offered at the school again until this year. “To me, if you do not have a passionate teacher (teaching the class), it’s not really beneficial,” explained Principal Elgin Card. Enter Mahoney.

With students leading the way, the new journalism class is a prime example of personalized learning. Through project based learning, the first-year journalism students are responsible for brainstorming article ideas, researching and writing the content - with Mahoney’s oversight. “It’s empowering the kids to create,” she said.

Putting the ownership of the class in the students’ hands has resulted in Mahoney seeing excitement in her students - even after the first lesson. The West Press is the student-created new online news website.

 

Mahoney uses class time to teach writing lessons before the students apply what they learn for the website. The goal is to have a new edition posted at the beginning of each month, but new content is added as it is ready.

 

The class, which is made up of tenth through twelfth-graders, is led by eight senior section leaders. They work with the younger students to build their areas of content, including: hard news, sports, opinions and reviews, and arts and entertainment. 

 

Taysha Brune, a senior and editor-in-chief for West Press, is honored to be in this position. “I feel like a mentor. I like that (the younger students) trust me to look at their writing - even for their other English classes,” Brune said. “I can give them advice as to how I did it when I was in those classes.” 

 

Even with grading, Mahoney seeks the students’ input, engaging the students through even more personalization. “I share my ideas with the students and get their feedback.” Students earn points for many aspects of the work involved in keeping the website up and running. For example, completion points are given when an article is finished and for meeting deadlines. Of course, individual grades are also earned through writing lessons and, what Mahoney calls, “mini-lessons.”

 

While there is only one section of the class this year, Mahoney is hoping to expand it to journalism I and II in the future. Brune hopes so, too. Even though she will be graduating in May, Brune sees a bright future for West Press. “I hope that it gets more readers, that it is seen as something that comes with the school.”