The report was their final project for the NLP unit, taught by Reavis faculty member Miles Wieting.
This is the second time an after-school group at Reavis has completed the NLP unit with Wieting, and the second time students there have created an audio report for their final project. Last year, a different group produced a piece that explored peer pressure among early teens.
“This year was a bit more challenging than last year because the students were not as aware of journalism and news at the beginning, but it was more rewarding to open their eyes to all that goes into news, and to put together a radio report that showed then how to harness everything they had learned,” Wieting said of this year’s experience.
This year’s group unanimously voted to explore the issue of video games’ popularity and their impact on young people. In addition to Wieting, three NLP journalists worked with the students to emphasize the value and importance of producing a balanced news report that used multiple sources of information.
In March, the group visited WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore at the station’s South Side bureau, where they learned about the process of producing quality journalism. WBEZ’s Lynette Kalsnes made two visits to the school to work with students on the issue of attribution and credibility and advised them on how to capture high-quality audio and ask open-ended questions. Irene Tostado, a producer at Univision radio, also came to the school, where she led a discussion on the First Amendment before helping students find sources for their research. In addition, she helped the students with their script.
The 10-minute report includes footage from five interviews and cites several studies. It was narrated by 6th-grader Rashad Thomas-Bland.
The News Literacy Project unit “taught me a lot about sources, like Wikipedia, and how they might have biases or need to be checked,” Thomas-Bland said. “I also liked working with my team to make a radio documentary because I got a chance to put the piece together and work on my speaking and journalism skills.”
The Reavis students presented the report to students from Perspectives charter school at an NLP showcase event in April.