In early November, in conjunction with their journalism unit, the fifth grade teachers at McAlister Intermediate School invited the Observer staff to speak to the students about what is included in writing a story for the paper. Krystal Holmes, who organized our in-person conversation with the fifth grade last year, helped to set up our chance to do it again. However, because of COVID-19, the in-person part was out, and we were invited to join several fifth grade classes over two days via GoogleMeets, a platform used by the school.
Andy Sauer, our Observer columnist who writes Suffield Observations, Ann Kannen, our office manager and I were invited to join the students and their teachers to explain how the paper gets put together as well as how one might come up with ideas for a submission. Andy Sauer, a professional writer, explained how there were four types of news. News you need to know (“Record-breaking heat wave tomorrow”), news you want to know (“Yankees wilt in loss to Red Sox”), news you should know (“Soaring temps strain electricity providers”) and news you didn’t know you wanted to know (“A cow gives nearly 200,000 glasses of milk in her lifetime.”). We hoped to spark the students’ interest in writing something for the paper, and we were very excited to receive the first, in what we hope will be several installments of students’ writing.
Thanks go to fifth grade teachers Mrs. Bennett, Mrs. Stiles, Mrs. Popeleski, Mrs. Harrington, Mrs. Janssen, Mrs. Orie and Ms. Ralston. Certainly one of the things we learned from our experience “teaching” via technology is that it’s a lot harder than you’d think. Kudos to all the teachers and staff who manage this every school day.