So in January, I was teaching NIE3, the newspaper writing class, for the second time. But of course, it would have made too much sense for the files from the first time I taught it to have been saved… and the vast majority of them weren’t. Out of three levels, what I still had from the level 3 class I designed and a few of the files the level 1 teacher kept were all we had going into the Winter Intensives… Not good. It basically meant I spent December designing not one but three classes. And that is why my blog has been dead for a while.

However that did allow me to go back and make them fit together nicely. Before, the three teachers kind of did their own thing but this time around, the classes followed a much more similar structure. The material was at different levels of difficulty though.

And I will not allow these files to be lost again. That’s two months of hard work (although if you count the other teachers and my triple-time work – that’s six months of hard work). I’m not planning on being here to teach the class a third time but I’m definitely planning on updating these files for a new term and making some kind of quick handbook so it can continue to be taught. I don’t want this class to die. Not just because I’ve worked hard on it but also because the students really have fun reading articles and writing their own and it’s clearly helpful for them to get that extra practical practice instead of reading canned articles that are written with a certain skill set in mind (not that canned articles don’t have their place…).

Teaching this class a second time has made me realize one thing though – the internet is wonderful! There are a lot of resources on the web for designing projects like this. The first time around us teachers were having a hard time finding level appropriate articles and about halfway through December I found a whole bunch of websites that not only have articles for kids (and sometimes written by kids) but also there are actually resources out there to teach kids how to read and write newspaper articles.

Serious, this kind of class is so much cooler for kids than a standard English/language arts class. I really think more schools should adopt programs where kids can actually apply the skills they are learning in a way that mimics the more ‘adult world’. Science Fairs are basically awesome. Why not have a fair for other subjects too, not just the ones that are inherently awesome like Science. Try-Math-A-Lons are okay too.

I guess what I’m trying to say is let’s have a culture of innovation and exploration, rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, learning by doing. Take chances, make mistakes, get messy! The United States kind of has that. Korea… not so much. But that is for another post.

As a final thought for this post, after teaching the class, I worked my butt off again to get the newspaper ready. Last time around, a “marketing guy” (as he was called) designed the newspaper and it… was okay. But there were lots of stupid errors that shouldn’t have been there. And the newspaper was honestly nothing amazing in the design department considering it was made by a “market guy”. This time around, I was determined to make it awesome. Or as close to awesome as I could. Unfortunately, the original template was not saved so again I had to make it from scratch. After being told the dimensions of the newspaper AFTER I designed it (and having to go back and expand everything), I was also told I could only have one sheet of paper instead of the three that I needed (the last newspaper was only one sheet). Which was ridiculous because I had more students than last time and they wrote much longer articles. I was able to negotiate up to two sheets… although even that was still too little. But I had to work with what I got.

And when it’s finally printed, I’ll post it.

* Editing Note After The Fact: YAY! MY 100th POST!*