Pulitzer Center Update

"Walk Like a Journalist" with 5th graders from Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School

June 20, 2016|

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Alex and Dennis, fifth grade students from Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School, conduct interviews in Dupont Circle after visiting the Pulitzer Center office to learn reporting and photography skills from Allison Shelley. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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Students analyze photos and captions from Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk on the first day of their "Walk Like a Journalist" workshop at Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Image by Fareed Mostoufi. Washington, DC, 2016.

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Allison Shelley and Pulitzer Center Senior Education Manager Fareed Mostoufi ask students to recall what they learned about the Out of Eden Walk and a "slow approach" to journalism on the first day of their workshop. Students also prepare to ask Allison Shelley questions about how she reports global news. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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Allison Shelley asks students to reflect on what they learned from reporting in Dupont Circle and what skills they want to apply to their reporting projects at their schools. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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Felix M. writes the following to accompany this photo from his reporting in Dupont Circle: "Beautiful. Busy, yet peaceful. A man named Suave agreed to be interviewed by two youngsters by the names of Felix and Ender. He also agreed to have his picture taken. The two boys were thrilled to finally be able to take a photo of someone. Suave said that his hobby was to ride a bike, and he had a job as a bicycle messenger." Beautiful. Busy, yet peaceful. A man named Suave agreed to be interviewed by two youngsters by the names of Felix and Ender. He also agreed to have his picture taken. The two boys were thrilled to finally be able to take a photo of someone. Suave said that his hobby was to ride a bike, and he had a job as a bicycle messenger." Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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Camille C. writes the following to accompany this photo from her reporting in Dupont Circle: "Standing here in the middle of Dupont circle, the streets surrounding Dupont circle are busy, crowded, active, cramped, brimming, jammed. The sky is very cloudy, misty, sunless, dusky. The spring trees: green, leafy, lush, tender. In the very center stands a stone fountain, lays an aged and crusty geyser. People rushing on their way to work. A man with his very loving puppy was in no rush to have a nice chat. Erez was his name." Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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Fifth graders at Washington Yu Ying interview staff members at their school as part of the last day of their "Walk Like a Journalist" workshop. Students applied the reporting skills they learned to capture—with a camera—what is special about their school. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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"On the campus of Yu Ying Chinese Public Charter School April 28, 2016 a big red Chinese dragon trail foreshadows a world of diverse languages and cultures inside," writes a group of students from Washington Yu Ying as a caption for this photo. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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"Yu Ying is an award-winning Chinese school and it is four stories high. On April 28, four students are in front of the school with a Washington Yu Ying poster. They are representing the school on a journalism project," writes one group of students to accompany this photo. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

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"Yu Ying is a dual language immersion school, and the kids learn music in Chinese. Yuying Laoshi, the teacher, and a lot of kindergartners were dancing and using clickers and other instruments.The beat they were following was slow-paced and calm," a group of Washington Yu Ying students write to accompany this photo. A final exhibition of the students' work will be displayed at the Pulitzer Center in June 2016. Image courtesy of Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School. Washington, DC, 2016.

On April 27, 2016, 46 fifth graders from Washington Yu Ying Public Charter School stormed Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, with notebooks, cameras and a mission to use reporting and interview skills to capture the essence of the park on a rainy April afternoon.

“The air was cold, but the park was beautiful,” Stella wrote.

“Crowded. Man-made. Loud. Traffic. Buildings. It was all looming over the beautiful Dupont Circle,” wrote Felix.

The students were participating in a three-day workshop in slow journalism inspired by the Out of Eden Walk, Paul Salopek’s 10-year project exploring how a slow approach to reporting on foot can enlighten understanding of larger world issues. The workshop was designed as part of the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative’s Arts for Every Student Program, but was modified and strengthened through consultation with the fantastic 5th grade team at Washington Yu Ying.

The workshop series, titled “Walk Like a Journalist,” began with an in-class workshop exploring Paul Salopek’s photos. Students started by observing photos scattered around their classroom and making predictions about the Out of Eden Walk. Next, after viewing videos and blog posts from Paul's journey, they developed questions about how journalists report.

“What inspired you to become a journalist?” Rosemary asked.

“What is the most important assignment have you done? How do you know if a story is interesting? How does it feel to know that people everywhere know your work and identity?” others added.

On the second day, students met with photojournalist Allison Shelley at the Pulitzer Center office. Shelley presented photography from her reporting project Haiti: The Promised Land and explained how she applied observation and interviewing skills when reporting on a cholera outbreak in Haiti. Many students were curious about how Shelley’s photos captured the culture of Haiti, a country several said they knew little about. They were particularly struck by a photo of a religious ceremony taking place in open water. “Could they get cholera from standing in the water?” one student asked.

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“Why are they wearing all white?” another wondered.

Several students asked how Shelley was able to gain the trust of her subjects. She explained how important it was for her to ask people before taking their portraits and how she would often spend time with her subjects before taking their photos.

Students applied the reporting skills they learned from Shelley to a reporting project in Dupont Circle later that afternoon. Their task was to use written observations, interviews and photos to capture what was happening in Dupont Circle, a popular Washington DC park. Many students quickly moved to asking passersby for interviews, but a few chose to observe from a park bench or fountain step. Shelley, teachers from Yu Ying and members of the Pulitzer Center staff moved between groups to support students as they took their final photos. When Shelley gathered the group to process their experience reporting, students were quick to articulate what excited and surprised them about their reporting adventures.

“I met four people from Ohio,” one student reported.

Others reported meeting several people that were from outside of the United States.

Gabriella explained that she had assumed a man she interviewed was passing through Dupont Circle on his way to work because he had been wearing dress clothes. The man explained that he had been kicked out of his home and was homeless. He had come to the Circle to earn money by playing music. “I learned not to make assumptions about people,” she shared.

Click here to see a slideshow of the final photos and captions from the students’ reporting in Dupont Circle.

On the final day of the “Walk Like a Journalist” workshop, students met with Shelley to review their photos from Dupont Circle and to discuss how to write strong captions. After watching a film from Paul Salopek describing tips for identifying stories based on observations, the students broke into groups to conduct their own reporting projects at their school. Their goal was to use the reporting techniques they had learned from Salopek and Shelley to observe and capture moments in their communities through photography and writing. Their photos and captions will be part of a photography exhibition at the Pulitzer Center in June 2016.

Click here to see a slideshow of the photos from the students’ reporting from Washington Yu Ying.

"What I liked the most is finding out how many people have very interesting stories," Soloman wrote at the end of the final workshop.

His classmate Camilla added, "I learned that you have to get to know your topic before you can actually start your writing."

In her evaluation of the workshop, Morgan wrote, "I learned that being a journalist isn't just about TV. It's about caring about other people."

Jewel added, "I learned that being a journalist is fun. I would like to keep trying to be a journalist."

Originally posted on 5/13/2016

Click here for a lesson plan used on the first day of the “Walk Like a Journalist workshop. All three lesson plans will be available on the Lesson Builder later this month.
Contact education@pulitzercenter.org if you would like to try this project with your students.
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