POSTED ON BEHALF OF MONICA SHAH
IndyKids is a progressive kid’s newspaper produced by volunteers including parents, students, teachers, journalists and community activists. Formed in 2005, IndyKids’ creators believe that everything is political and that no media source comes without bias; thus, they openly label their newspaper as progressive. IndyKids aims to present an alternative perspective that is typically not found in mainstream media or other kids’ news journals such as Time for Kids or Junior Scholastic because they are backed by corporate sponsors. IndyKids provides space for issues of marginalized people including kids, people of color, poor people, and immigrants whose voices may not generally be heard in conventional news and school textbooks. The organization does not believe in “talking down” to kids or restricting certain issues from being presented. Therefore, their stories range anywhere from youth activism, labor and immigrant rights and global warming, to war, the financial crisis and same-sex marriage. Aside from news, the paper also includes entertainment, recipes and puzzles.
In addition to learning about the issues themselves, IndyKids can be used in classrooms to teach media literacy. Teachers can give students articles on similar topics from various sources and ask them to compare the views of the publications. By doing this, students can pick out biases, form their own opinions based on facts or perspectives given, and most importantly, learn and practice being critical interpreters of information, instead of being passive recipients. This is a good exercise for teachers who may receive criticism for presenting progressive viewpoints, or generally for any teacher who aims to be objective and wants their students to be critical thinkers.
While the website states that the newspaper is aimed to engage kids in grades 4 to 7, I believe that the newspaper could be used from grades 3 to 8, and may be integrated best in an English/Language Arts or Social Studies class setting. What is also unique about this paper is that kids are encouraged to submit their own articles. Teachers or parents who use this newspaper in their classroom or home can make researching and submitting articles as part of a class project. On the IndyKids’ website, there are helpful resources and guides for teachers. For example, check out the November/December 2011 Issue and Teacher’s Guide – Issue 32.
IndyKids not only helps students to simply learn about current national and international events, but it can help students develop empathy, curiosity and passion, and may lead them to becoming selfless and conscientious. Another way teachers can promote peace and social justice in their classroom, school, and community, and further develop students’ research, writing, and analytical skills, is to assign students to produce their own community-based version of IndyKids focusing on local issues. After writing the articles and publishing a class newspaper, students can take an additional step and create an action plan to bring attention to a particular local issue and/or to fight a local injustice.
IndyKids supports the community building and skill building pillars of peace education. With the newspaper, students will learn about various issues, cultures and perspectives, and are encouraged to embrace the differences and similarities they may have with the people they read about. By allowing kids to write and submit their own articles, they are able to take ownership of their learning experience and see their work being acknowledged and read by a wider audience. With regard to skill building, students are empowered to actively participate in the larger peace and social justice movement locally and globally. Through reflection based activities, students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal skills will be strengthened. Furthermore, students’ analytical skills will be enhanced through media literacy lessons. Students will also learn organizing skills as they take action and show solidarity with a particular campaign, movement or group of people.