“Magazine is different from any other class. I have been part of many opportunities and experiences, which normally I would not usually be involved. I feel privileged to take photos and work in a team creating this keep sake for us all… To remember the memories we have created here at Melrose High School in 2012.”
(Year 10 Student, Melrose High School)
Two years ago I introduced a new electives class entitled “Magazine Production”, into Melrose High School. We had never had a school magazine at the school before and the Year book production was always a costly, time consuming exercise done almost entirely by staff.
I wanted to create a genuinely student centered school magazine that catered to individualised learning in its truest form and offered outstanding student leadership and peer collaboration opportunities. I also wanted to create a magazine that reflects the incredibly diverse and fabulous learning that happens at Melrose High school across the year and to develop a class whose whole focus is on promoting, publicizing and creating a positive community view of our fabulous high school.
I designed the Magazine class to be a year 9 and 10 elective that allows full creative control of the Magazine to go to students and to maximise individual choice and control over the work they produce. I don’t “teach” the class in a traditional or formal sense. Instead I have created a real world, rich task based course that allows students flexibility, choice and control over their work.
The class mirrors real and productive work places with students choosing work titles for themselves like “Science Reporter” “Sports Reporter” “Entertainment Correspondent”, Magazine Editor, Technical support etc. Students must complete at least two highly polished articles each term that involve interviewing people, covering events, taking photos and completing background research, they also make at least one other magazine based or school wide community contribution.
Each article goes through the full editing process. I sit down and edit at least one article per term with each student individually. I spend the whole lesson with the student engaged in a substantive and sustained conversation about the article they have produced. The student makes corrections themselves as we go and has the opportunity to ask questions and discuss their spelling, syntax and writing style. I can offer this individualised assistance because I am not the focal point in the class and the students assign each other tasks and help each other within their various roles.
This method has made a significant difference to the written language skills of students in the class as well as building their understanding and confidence of the process involved in creating high quality work for publication. I have received feedback from parents and English colleagues that they have seen a real improvement in the writing abilities of students in the Magazine class. The students themselves also recognise and refer to this.
It is incredibly important to provide students with genuine leadership opportunities and real world experiences that explicitly connect to the school based curriculum. The Magazine class provides this:
A year 10 student in the class is the Magazine Editor. He has led the magazine team, created the final InDesign book for publication, written briefs for students outside the class to contribute to the final magazine product, made all the printing decisions and liaised with the publishers to create the final product.
Another year 10 student as the Sub-Editor has led student teams to produce the yearbook supplement and a year 9 student took on the job of Science Reporter, covering ACE Science activities and interviewing Senator Kate Lundy on the Melrose High School Seismometer Launch day.
The magazine class also encourages students to utilise a broad range of technical and social media skills that they are constantly using in their lives outside school and bring these into the classroom. We all need to see ourselves as experts in something and students have the opportunity to bring a range of IT, literary, creative and social networking skills to the class and to get credit for these. They also learn to work in a team based real world environment that prepares them for the challenges ahead.
Importantly, from a school perspective we also now have a dedicated class of students highly engaged in promoting a positive image of our school in the community.
What more could you ask for?