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RPEMS Backpack Journalism

For academic year 2023-24, The Karson Institute (KI) selected Roland Park Elementary Middle School (RPEMS) in Baltimore City as the site for our nine-month Backpack Journalism program (BJ). The Program is funded in part by PNC Bank and is in its second year of programming. Year One was held at City Neighbors High School (CNHS) in Baltimore City and trained ninth grade students in how to tell stories about their families aand their communities.

The Backpack Journalism program is designed to shift the narrative to give students the power, tools, and training to tell their own stories- of their neighbors, communities, and themselves. Since collecting and reporting news tools have been democratized, we are putting the tools of the trade into the hands of students and empowering them to be a voice in their own communities.

YEAR TWO: Baltimore City: Our Canvas and Our Stories builds on the training that students received during Year One and is focused on teaching high school students how to write, videotape, and edit long-form stories about Baltimore City. Using their backpacks from Year One as supplementary material, students will be trained in using a script program and Adobe editing. Every student production team will write, act in, video tape and edit one long-form video project.   

YEAR ONE: The Ida B. Wells Civic and Journalism Mini-Institute is a hands-on program to teach high school students about civic responsibility and backpack journalism, specifically how to write and tell stories about their own Baltimore City communities instead of others speaking for them.

RPEMS 2024 Assignment 1: Family Interviews
RPEMS 2024 Assignment 2: Where Am I From
Wilson Peace Symposium: Student Compilation Video
RPEMS 2024 Assignment 3: Student Plays
RPEMS 2024 Assignment 4: Student Program Recap
RPEMS 2024 Field Trip 1 Recap
RPEMS 2024 Field Trip 2 Recap
Ida B. Wells Civic and Journalism Mini Institute

Assignment #1:  Family Interviews

Find someone in your family (over the age of 30) to interview. Ask the following questions, audio record the entire interview, and then transcribe their answers:

  1. Name and age
  2. Why do you think Baltimore is called “Smalltimore”
  3. Share your favorite story about Baltimore.
  4. What do you think about the state of race in America?
  5. If you could change one thing about Baltimore, what would it be?
  6. What is the one thing that you wish you had known when you were my age?    
Speak Out Question: What do you think can be done to save Baltimore?

Assignment # 2: Student Speak Out

Students are to create a short recording of themselves answering the question, " What do you think can be done to save Baltimore?"

Speak out Question: What am I concerned about in Baltimore?
Speak Out Question: Why is it Important to Teach Black History?

After class discussion on Black History, students recorded themselves answering why they think it is important for schools to teach Black History.

Students Favorite Places

Assignment #3: Students Favorite Places

Students are to record themselves at three different locations that have meaning to them and explain the location and its meaning.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum Field Trip Part 1
Reginald F. Lewis Museum Field Trip Part 2

While on the field trip, students were asked:

  1. What does Black History Month mean to you?
  2. What does Black joy mean to you?
Black History Month Talk Back

Students are to create a short recording of themselves  answering the question, "Why is Black history American history?"

Lack of Sports

Students reflect and talk about the lack of sports in their school

PNC Bank Logo

race · peace · social justice