Broadgreen Intermediate Students in Room 3 have been using the Waimea and Nelson Weekly to become more engaged with their local community. Photo: Matt McCrorie.

Students use newspapers to connect to community

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When local teacher Shaz Murray prepared to head back to school after weeks in isolation, she had several goals.

Getting students off their screens and connecting with each other were the main ones, but more than that, she wanted to get her students connected to their local community.

It wasn’t until the first week of Alert Level 3, when she was reading the Nelson Weekly, that she thought of a way to engage her students with their community.

For the term, Shaz’s class, Room 3 at Broadgreen Intermediate had been focusing on ‘Turangawaewae; The place where we stand’ and learning about the importance of being connected to your local community.

“I was aware that kids were spending a huge amount of their time on devices – which was great, but I wanted to get them back into having conversations, and our term focus has been connecting with the community.”

Shaz says that one of the topics her students have been studying is ‘How community newspapers have helped the community throughout and after the lockdown.’

So, Shaz picked up a stack of Waimea Weekly and Nelson Weekly papers, and got her students reading.

“A lot of our learning has been around local community stories in the papers, and getting the students connected to ‘the place where they stand’ which is their local area, and the community papers have been a great way to do that.”

The whiteboard in Room 3 is covered in comments the students have made about how community papers have been helpful during the Covid crisis, with ideas like: ‘Inspiring us with positive stories,’ ‘Telling people where they can get help,’ and ‘Encouraging us to think local and support local businesses.’

“It’s been a huge focus of our learning, thinking about how we are connected to our community and all the benefits that come with that connection. From there we’ve since discussed ways we can become more connected to our communities, by giving back to it.”