Pin It For the past seven years my students have worked on a classroom newspaper which is called In-Z-News. This newspaper is the collaboration of 24-30 students per year, and has articles which encompass a vast variety of topics.
My students write book reviews, movie critiques, teacher spotlights, jokes and tongue twisters, real-life stores, breaking news, and recaps of school events. In fact, when we first started out, we even contacted United Syndicate and got permission to run “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoons in each issue.
However, before a paper can be put together, there are things I need to teach the kids about; things like interviewing others. I train my students how to summarize, I teach them about writing good hooks, and rewriting their articles until they are good enough to be run in In-Z-News. Our paper is then distributed throughout the school as well as online (I still need to get that page back up and running on my other website…with my new principal’s permission, the older editions will be made available once-again to the general public).
However, one of the most important things I have the kids do is to learn to ask good questions, ask follow-up questions, and take good notes. For many years, my good friend, cjane, has taken on various and sundry roles—she would come each year to my classroom as a different character for the kids to interview. However, these are not your typical personalities…but are a little more…
I’ve not made myself clear, have I?
The word ‘unique’ can carry so many different connotations that I should elaborate…and so I shall…
Cjane would come as a vast variety of characters such as that of Dominique, a princess who lived on a distant island where her father was king. She was touring the United States to see about purchasing it. She talked about her sister who was only born with only one leg and how when running in their island’s national 3-legged race (their version of the Olympics), she and her sister would always take first.
She came one year as Grizelda, the little-known stepsister of Cinderella; yes, she was a little bitter because she ended up with the short end of the slipper and did not get to live in the castle. She gave us an earful, and told us all about the true Cinderella who didn’t do any work at all but sat around lazily each and every day while she, Grizelda, did all of the work. She then let everyone know how wonderful she really was, and how the prince should have really chosen her to be his bride...
The kids were enchanted with Melancholy, the girl who—despite having such a sad name—was bright and full of life. She made it a point to talk about how beautiful she was, and to let several of the sixth-grade boys know that she was indeed, single...much to the embarrassment of one boy whom I'll call, ‘Joey.’
The final year cjane came to be interviewed, she came as Zen4, the space traveler from the distant planet Zen. She had come from ‘the mother planet’ in hopes of finding others from her home world. She was met with success because, while in our classroom, she was able to make contact with a fellow planeteer, whom I’ll Christian as ‘Joey4.’
As you can see, practicing interviewing was a lot more fun with these characters, and the kids had a great time. The final articles they wrote were not only interesting, but full of excellent word choice and information.
Now, you’re probably wondering…just why is Teachinfourth writing about all of this? Yes, it’s interesting, but exactly what is his purpose?
I’ll make it simple…
I made a request that cjane make another appearance this year, however, with her life changes over the past year, I don’t know as if this would be feasible. Therefore, my next question is…if she is unable to make an appearance after all this year, are there any other takers for Monday or Tuesday of this week?
It’ll be mostly painless…I promise.