Adviser Update Adviser Update Fall 2017 - Page 29

27 the middle school level, but they don’t tell the whole story. “A strong journalism program is equally essential for a middle school as it is for a high school,” said Jed Palmer, a journalism adviser for Sierra Middle School in Colorado. “Students are able to learn valuable academic and work world skills in an authentic environment. Students are able to have a voice within their school community through the use of journalistic publications and are also able to document the events of the school with a powerful student perspective.” Palmer hits on several key points. Administrators love the term “authentic learning” and if there’s anything journalism does, it creates authentic experiences. Journalism programs provide students with a voice and allows them to document life and learn ways to use their voice in a positive and structured setting (and we know how middle school students love to use their voices). “Middle school students already feel they are experts in communication,” retired journalism adviser Mary Patrick said. “It may not be the types we hope they would use, but when we educators channel that enthusiasm that students have for social media into all types of media, wonderful projects may be created.” Middle school journalism shouldn’t be considered a luxury like steak and lobster. Middle school journalism should be featured on every school’s menu of choices. MICHAEL MALCOM-BJORKLUND Michael Malcom-Bjorklund, CJE, advises advises the Ascent yearbook and The Rocketeer newspaper while teaching 8th grade language arts and journalism at River City Science Academy Innovation in Jacksonville, after a successful 14-year professional career in the media industry. With a degree in journalism, masters in education and a dozen design awards under his belt, Malcom-Bjorklund recently earned a spot on the JEA board as Director-at-Large with the hopes of enhancing the viability of middle school journalism. He is also the webmaster for the Florida Council of Teachers of English. Malcom-Bjorklund can be reached at mwbjorklund@outlook.com or 904-382-3876. “A strong middle school journalism program can put the high school program ahead of districts that have no middle school program, especially in basics such as design, photography, writing, teamwork, and meeting deadlines,” Patrick added. Think about that, high school advisers – ready-to-roll freshmen. Think about the time you will save teaching the same foundations of journalism. Think about what you can do with those extra weeks. Ultimately, think about how that extra time will prepare them for their college and professional careers. We must understand, although journalism won’t be a forever home for many students,