Adviser Update Adviser Update Winter 2018 - Page 13

13 1. Imbue assignments with the promise of originality We need to find ways to assign written work that can find an audience. Avoid the standard essay on what makes “Hamlet,” a complicated work of art, and think of ways to have students demonstrate comprehension through writing that is different and publishable. Nobody needs to publish an essay on indecisiveness in “Hamlet”; but there may be an audience interested in students uncovering and analyzing how multicultural classrooms in New York City have responded to the text over the past century. 2. Avoid arbitrary deadlines Journalists set deadlines based on publication schedules rather than marking periods. Find times when true publication makes sense and build in deadlines that will inspire students to work towards the goal of having work ready for an audience. 3. Remove the answers from the teacher and encourage authentic learning Journalists know what they don’t know and learn how to find it. They are authentic learners, at their best. By creating assignments that encourage students to uncover some new angle on a topic it shifts the burden from the teacher having to provide students with “the right” answer and offers students opportunities to find what the teacher may not expect. During our experimental unit, few students would say that they were taught anything journalistic because it was not treated as a journalistic unit. That unseen weaving together of the two kinds of courses proved successful precisely because it felt like a departure from the standard English writing project and yet it made sense within the confines of the curriculum. PUBLICATION OPTIONS It’s easy to offer “true” publication as an incentive, but it’s not always easy to find the right venue. Here are some places where students can publish their work: The school newspaper/news site: This is the simplest and likeliest avenue for publication. If you have work that is relevant to the school community, reach out to those running the school newspaper and make an arrangement. Most student editors would be happy to host polished content that other students provide them (with the backing of a teacher). Local publications: You would be surprised at how willing local publications are to consider publishing relevant and timely student work. Consider reaching out to local newspapers and proposing content. School website: If the school paper is unable to host your work, consider the official school website. An impressive set of student writing that is published for the school audience is something most administrators would want showcased on the school’s official page. Medium and social media: If all else fails, sites like Medium will host work, and it feels more official than posting on a class blog would. Publishing with Medium, and then teaching students how to gain an audience for their published work through social media channels, can be worthwhile exercise.