I’ve just finished the second of our school journalism workshops at Moat Community College in Leicester and am chuffed with how it’s going so far. I’d like to share the progress the Year 8’s are making in an update on the Rockhaq community. Yes, we will cover swearing!

Big shout out and thanks to Moat Community College’s awesome English literacy co-ordinator Veena Shaunak too, who definitely knows exactly how to motivate her class.

School Journalism Workshops

Firstly, running school journalism workshops with a Year 8 class is a totally new experience for me, so thanks to Moat Community College for taking a gamble. After week two, I think the gamble is really paying off. Students started by choosing a music track and artist to write about in the session. It took most of them longer to do this than I had planned for in a 50-minute lesson. However, my biggest challenge was getting to grips with a group of very different, but talented, Year 8’s and communicate with them. Year 8’s are roughly 12 years old.  We got impressive results today, so I hope this trend continues.

After we helped them choose their artist, I broke the art of review writing down for the Year 8s into smaller chunks. This trick makes it much easier for young students to process when it comes to actually writing their first words or sentences. I always start with showcasing examples of paragraphs, words or techniques from their peers on the Rockhaq community. Today I highlighted how to use and quote swear words in reviews via Sam Brookes’ lead on Tyler The Creator’s Goblin, quoted here:

The album takes place over 15 songs and has a concept of Tyler talking to a fictional therapist with Goblin being their second “session.” His first album B*****d was their first session and upcoming album Wolf being their third and final one.

Not only does this simple example engage with young students looking to push boundaries, it really helps to get the message across and spur them to discuss the music they love.

Teachers writing reviews helps motivate

Veena Shaunak also helped by writing an opening sentence of a review on her chosen artist, Sean Paul. Seeing teachers writing their own first sentence on a whiteboard can help with student motivation a lot. I also spoke about facts (tell me at least two facts about the artist including what genre of music they make), adjectives, how the song makes you feel and giving reasons why. Hopefully we will see Veena’s contribution on the Rockhaq community soon – and it’s one I’m really looking forward to reading.

Back to the reviews that are coming out of our school journalism workshops, though. I’m surprised and impressed at the writing talent a lot of 12-year-old pupils have. Seeing how music is helping them express what they think and feel is brilliant and life-affirming! Next week we’re moving onto lyrics and how to discuss/evaluate them well before thinking about our conclusions. We also have Judgemeadow Community College’s Literacy Co-Ordinator Naheed Iqbal sitting in on next week’s workshop at Moat, so there might be even more to say afterwards.

Roll on week 3 😀

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