My students are currently working on a blog-magazine. Each class, of the third grade, has divided into groups and each group is preparing an article to post on the blog.
They are doing this in the knowledge that not only will their work be displayed on the internet, but that they are contributing to a magazine that will also see contributions from Ghana and Russia (hopefully Brazil and Sweden too! Check out this link if your students would like to join.).
With this information shared, I had my classes brainstorm all kinds of magazine topics they could write on. Each group then chose one. There were also opportunities to conduct long distance, delayed interviews with students from abroad. In each class in which these interviews were offered I had multiple groups facing off with rock, paper, scissors to determine who was awarded the chance to conduct an interview.
Any small worries prior to starting this project are now thoroughly forgotten. Each group, from all levels, has been enthusiastically working. Mind you, this is AFTER their final tests. They have no grades left to receive. They are leaving middle school for good in one month, and each and every one of them is thoroughly engaged in producing content they can be proud of.
Personally, I could not be happier. This project has given me a chance to really work with each student, and they me. I have students who previously couldn’t be bothered come hell or high water, when it comes to English class, bringing in work they have done from home. It’s been an immense teaching experience.
My hope is that the magazine will be done by the end of the year. That way all my students can have it as a reminder of what was important to them when they were in middle school.
I cannot wait bring this magazine to everyone and would like to thank Mr. Alex Grevett for presenting on “making students the expert” back at the KOTESOL national conference in May. To see middle school students this engaged in, not only creating, but communicating in, English is a dream come true. I cannot recommend it highly enough.