A Year 5 group at our primary school was having trouble with spelling and making complete sentences, so we started work on a school newspaper. Pupils suggested topics, gathered material, wrote articles, took photos and interviewed teachers and students from other years.
With help from ICT teachers, our newspaper was so successful we got other years involved and produced a monthly issue on general interest topics such as learning tips, spare time, sports, jokes and fashions. It really helped children gain confidence in their writing.
We usually choose our topics by everyone writing ideas anonymously on pieces of paper which we read together (fashion and spare time are always the most popular). There is an editorial committee (one student from each group, not necessarily the best speller or writer), and I help with organisation and deadlines. We meet regularly, read articles together, share opinions and make suggestions. We have also tried giving articles to each other to read before reading them in the group.
Given the opportunity to speak, even the lowest ability pupils got involved and gained confidence. I was amazed at how seriously the pupils took it.
Staff, including English, ICT and art teachers, gave students a fine example of co-operation and reciprocal help.
Elena Moinescu is a classroom assistant at St Joseph's School, Barking