My class is currently composing the second edition of the Chicago Friends School newsletter. This is an entirely kid-generated project, with the entire project proposed and then planned by my students, with only very light editing imposed by me on the final product.
The concept was first brought up by a student over a month ago, with a burst of enthusiastic discussion but no immediate follow-through. I reminded my students of the idea at the beginning of writing workshop a couple of weeks ago, and immediately the room sprang into activity; the first edition was put out after several days’ work. It included news articles about the life of the school, cartoons, puzzles, jokes, and games. The current edition shares the same broad format, with the addition of some interviews conducted with members of other classrooms to find out what they’ve been doing recently.
My favorite thing about this project is how much agency the kids have in directing it. One fourth grade student has become the main newsletter editor, with several others assisting in that area, and it’s wonderful to watch how easily the kids give and take editorial suggestions. Each writer or artist has complete creative control over their own contributions, but they’re happy to consult with their peers about structure, spelling, and what additional pieces might be desirable for the current edition. It’s clear that none of that feels like an imposition when it comes from a friend rather than a teacher! You can find copies of the published newsletter in every classroom and in Karen’s office — I’d encourage you to come enjoy it!