Pages Navigation Menu

A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Solutions Journalism: The Demise of Fox Focus

by Amy Medlock-Greene

STORY: Last year our school implemented 35 minutes of “free time” for students that backed up to their lunch period. The intent of this time was to allow students to attend club meetings or academic assistance, to make up tests and/or missing work, to spend some downtime with friends, and to give their brains a midday break.

RESPONSE: For the first nine weeks of the school year, the students struggled with this newfound free time. Discipline issues were higher during this period for instances of students leaving campus without authorization, smoking or vaping in the parking lot or bathrooms, getting into fights or being in unsupervised areas. By the beginning of second semester, students had to report to their homerooms on Mondays and Fridays, but they were still allowed to use their “Fox Focus” time however they wished (with limitations) Tuesday-Thursday. By the end of the school year, students (primarily freshmen and sophomores) were still getting into trouble during this time, so for the last month of school students had to report to their homerooms every day.

EVIDENCE: We would need to take a look at the discipline data from the 2018-2019 school year and compare it to the 2017-2018 year to look for trends in offenses and grade-level offenders. We would also need to examine the number of STUDENTS who received discipline referrals instead of just looking at the number of referrals submitted. Was it the same students getting in trouble over and over? Or was the problem actually as widespread as the administrators believed? This would be tricky because of FERPA, but there should be a way to cull the data based on the number of unique offenders even without names.

INSIGHTS: There are four high schools in our District, so we would also need to reach out to the administration at the other high schools to see how they handle this time during the middle of the day. Over the past two years we’ve gone from four separate lunch periods to only two (although our population has actually grown). We would also need to examine the effect these overcrowded lunch periods have had on the discipline issues we’re seeing in the cafeteria and around campus during this time.

LIMITATIONS: One major limitation is that our administration has already made up its collective mind that this system will not work. For the 2019-2020 school year, we still have the 70-minute “lunch block” in the middle of the day, with 35 minutes for lunch and 35 minutes for homeroom. Since almost every teacher will have a homeroom they’re responsible for every day, this cuts down on the number of teachers who are available for lunch duty and hall duty during that time. It also eliminates the ability for students to receive tutoring and/or make up missing tests and other work during the day. It puts the burden back on teachers to provide tutoring and make-up sessions before school and after school and also puts limitations on students who rely on bus transportation (since they can’t arrive early or stay late for club meetings, tutoring and make-up work).


468 ad