Adviser Update Adviser Update Winter 2018 - Page 11

11 Writing for Publication: Beyond the Journalism Classroom By Brian Sweeney I n general education English, teachers encourage students to use the term “publish” when submitting finalized written work. In the lower grades, there are “publishing” days, where students share out their final drafts and celebrate the end of a writing unit. The terminological shift is admirable: We don’t want students to view academic writing as just some assignment. Publishing one’s work rather than merely “handing it in” adds an air of professionalism that is motivational and dignified. But no one is buying any of this. Students submit most work for a grade. Teachers return the writing to a portfolio or a backpack, where it will, more often than not, slowly rot. In the journalism classroom, however, the word has meaning. Publication for a tangible audience is the goal, and with the proper resources, all students of journalism should be able to see their work through to publication in the school newspaper or beyond. Though Adviser Update has rightly focused on how to sharpen our skills as journalism teachers, it’s worth considering how journalism can enhance general education English courses. Many English teachers take on journalism electives, and it is easy to keep both spheres separate; last year, in our school, we began experimenting with using journalism to shift how we teach freshman English. After working with passionate high school journalists, you can see why this shift is necessary. These are students who will latch onto a story, stay in school long after the day has ended, and write until they have something worthy of publication—only to seem half asleep when assigned work in their English courses. Why shouldn’t that energy and that passion be channeled back into the English curriculum? Last year, our freshman English students began the year studying mythology. This would seem the least likely topic that one could marry with journalistic principles, but with a slight refocusing BRIAN SWEENEY Brian Sweeney has been teaching in New York City since 2008. He is an English teacher at Townsend Harris High School, where he advises The Classic, the school’s award-winning student newspaper. Brian and his students were recently honored for their work by The Deadline Club and the Student Press Law Center. He serves as the president of New York City Scholastic Press Association.