In graduate school, I read a few articles and essays from Stanley Fish on college composition. I remember that he created a real world audience for his students by creating periodical publications that he would self-publish university-wide. In this same line of thought, I have been thinking of a way to apply this idea in the project based learning, high school, humanities classroom.
I have many students who can write well already and need the pressure and excitement of a real audience. I have students who have a good understanding of writing and need help to find voice and coherence in writing. And I have a few students who need some elementary grammar and composition mistakes that have never really been addressed. At all levels, the dynamic of writing for an authentic audience and having their work on the internet or in a bound text will help them to see another purpose than writing for only the teacher’s eyes.
The project will include a blog and a self-published journal of writings from students. I want to allow the students to choose the genre and content of their texts, but I will encourage them to keep it non-fiction or fiction based on their perspectives as juniors at New Tech High @ Coppell. The vision for the blog and the publication is to show the many perspectives from this junior class. The students will have a digital and print collection of writing that they create and will have their names in the by-lines. (Truth be told; I am trying to be the type of teacher that I wish I had growing up. While I have had many great teachers in literature and a few great composition professors, I want to give my students the opportunity to make something they can be proud of and something they can set out into the world on the sea of information and perspectives.)
I want this project to run parallel to the project work that we do throughout the year, and I want it to be ungraded. My hope is that the lack of grade will remove unwanted, educational pressure and free up the students to take risks. I also want to work with a total of between 4-6 students each week across all of my classes so that I can give individual attention to students without feeling the rush of getting through everyone in a timely manner. This will also give me a chance to grow a professional relationship with my students outside of what I am doing with every student every day. (I re-wrote that last sentence about three times because I don’t want my students to read that and feel like I am trying to manipulate a relationship when my desire is to foster my relationships with them apart from the content. I never want students to feel as if I don’t actually care about them outside of the class and curriculum because that is untrue.)
The blog will be set up here, and I hope to publish the first edition of the book/journal by the end of April 2017.