After I got back from China, I was pseudo-quarantined. Not allowed to teach for a week, I needed to be assigned some sort of busy work. The programmers asked me to create a four-hour theme lesson plan. The theme of their choice? Economy. I spent about 45 minutes with a middle school-level economy book and decided that seventh graders knew more about income and expenses than I ever would. In my next meeting with the programmers, I suggested changing the theme from economy to journalism (big shock, right?). Over the course of the week, I built up a four-hour class in which students would be taught the history of newspapers, followed by the make-up of the modern newspaper. During the last two hours of the class, students would put together a team newspaper.

I taught the class a couple times each week, and some classes ran smoother than others. Lower-level students didn’t absorb the vocabulary as well as their higher-level classmates, and when it came to writing articles, they would often write a sentence or two and call it quits.

The most rewarding part of the class was during the last 15 minutes of the final hour. All of the teams came down to the auditorium with their newspaper pages in hand. The pages were taped up to the wall, putting scores of stories on display for everyone to read. Granted, the stories were about K-pop culture and the death of former President Roh, but they were still stories, and occasionally creative ones at that. I had one trio of girls who wrote a three-part series about Michael Jackson. One girl wrote about his music, another about his death and the third about his skin disease.

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After nearly a year at SEV, it felt good to be able to contribute to the programming in such a big way. “Little Journalist” got solid reviews from the teachers and programmers. While this is likely the only theme class I’ll ever put together, it was done well, and I’m proud of it.

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