Teacher creates newspaper to motivate students

In an effort to provide students the opportunity to publish their work, Cider Mill teacher Julia Didelot decided to create The Didelot Daily.

The newspaper is a collection of essays written by her fifth graders as part of their unit on research-based argument writing.

“The project starts with students researching a topic they are passionate about, conducting surveys and interviews and developing a research-based argument essay on the topic,” said Didelot, adding that each student must also “establish a claim with reasons and evidence to support it.”

Didelot started the publication her first full year of teaching during the 2015-16 school year. It was originally called “The Mahoney Minute,” based on her maiden name, and changed to The Didelot Daily after she got married in 2015.

“Along with the name change, it went through a digital transformation as well,” said Didelot. “The original version had all artwork done by hand, but the latest edition includes student-created digital graphs and drawings.”

All the stories featured in The Didelot Daily are student-written.

Didelot said her students “love to share their opinions,” and “the best part” is that they have the freedom to choose topics they’re passionate about — “from class pets to global warming.”

“Any student can write a paper and hand it in, but by giving students an opportunity to publish their work, develop associated artwork and have their material read by parents, teachers, administrators, and central office staff motivates them to do their very best,” said Didelot.

“Instead of a simple deadline, the students are excited to research their topic and present their argument in a unique way. What we really accomplish is the students embracing a lesson and learning important topics in a non-traditional manner.”

Didelot said she distributes the newspaper to her students and their families at the end of each school year.

“Parents join us in the classroom after the moving-up ceremony and the kids are excited to share their article and artwork with their families,” said Didelot, who considers the paper a “year-end gift” to her students and their families.

Currently, The Didelot Daily’s main format is a printed color version “that kids can hold, hang up in their rooms and be proud of,” said Didelot, “but it can also be — and has been — distributed as a PDF.”

“The great thing about it is that it changes each year as the kids are learning and becoming more advanced with technology,” she said.

Didelot, a former graphic designer, currently designs and lays out each issue of The Didelot Daily, but said she expects that “in a couple of years,” her students will be “putting together the layout themselves.”

Click here to view this year’s issue of The Didelot Daily.