Producing a magazine takes a lot of work, and Harlem Academy students are up to the task – especially when that magazine acknowledges a major milestone in their lives. Moving Up! is a celebration of our fourth-graders’ transition to fifth grade. It marks their accomplishment while honing critical planning, collaboration, and writing skills that will serve them well in fifth grade and beyond.
Every year, the fourth-grade class spends six weeks creating the magazine from cover to cover, with guidance from former Associated Press editor Ron Berthel, who retired after 41 years and now volunteers at Harlem Academy.
Fourth-graders come up with the topics, conduct interviews with other students and teachers, write and edit articles, and lay out the magazine, with “Mr. Ron” offering tips and advice every step of the way. Fourth-grade teacher Eunice Lee works closely with students throughout the six-week process to ensure that their writing is clear, cohesive, and fun.
“The most rewarding part of advising the students is encouraging them to think for themselves and helping them develop lifelong skills,” says Mr. Ron. “Seeing all of their hard work come together in the final product is incredible.”
Getting to the final product means dividing the work. The class splits into several groups, with each working on two articles. “I was the group leader for the reading group, so I had to assign jobs to everyone based on what we needed to get accomplished,” says Analise. “We interviewed people about books, wrote reviews of books, and took polls of which books our class liked best. When we were deciding which quotes to include, we picked the ones that we thought added the most value to our articles. No one-word answers!”
Classmate Sophie, who was in the advice column group, enjoyed the editing process most. “It was fun working one-on-one with Mr. Ron,” she says. “He was a really big help. He’d say, ‘When I was an editor, here’s what I used to do.’ Then he showed us how to make our articles better. Plus, he made grammar jokes!”
Amid the jokes, a lot of learning takes place. “By the time the class wraps up their journalistic project, they have learned to brainstorm and evaluate ideas, gather information from primary sources, write a strong lead, and revise and edit their work,” says Ms. Lee.
Analise, Sophie, and the rest of the fourth-grade class are proud to finally present Moving Up! – and so is their mentor, Mr. Ron: “Seeing the finished product is my favorite part.”