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Today I made my second visit to a local high school with 826 Chicago. I've made the
semester-long commitment to work with a creative writing class on
their journalism schools. I fell in love with journalism during
high school and was really excited when I heard about this
particular opportunity with 826.
Last week, the kids brought us their story pitches, created with
826's awesome "Pitch-o-matic" worksheet. During class we worked to
better develop and focus their pitches, which will turn into an
article they publish at the end of the semester. Considering the
students have about six weeks to do all the research, interviewing
and initial draft writing for these stories, a lot of their
original pitches needed tweaking.
So this week a lot of the students came back with stronger
pitches and more of a direction for their stories. Others, not so
much. But so far one of my favorite parts of this process has just
been hearing their ideas. Here are a few that I overheard
Something we talked a lot about this morning was being
ambitious, but limiting your ambitions with this project to be more
realistic. To help them narrow down their pitch, we went through
questions an editor might have if presented with their story
If you've ever been a writer, you know these are things that
come second nature to you after years of practice. But using these
steps, questions like, "Who is the audience?" or "What sources can
I talk to" and "What's the local angle?", really helped each
student's pitch come alive and take the form of the beginning of a
This week the students' homework is to hold their first
interview with one of their sources. I'm excited to see what they
come back with next week. I'm hoping for great (and slightly
humorous quotes), a lot of good information and a better grasp on
But I'm trying to keep my ambitions realistic.
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
See more of Alaina's stories here.
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