By Samantha Bell
If you’re looking for a way to actively engage your students in a lesson, consider having them write a newsletter. This hands-on creative assignment can be applied to a variety of subject matter. It can be completed as an individual assignment or as a group project. The possibilities are endless!
For example, if you are a social studies teacher, your students can create a newsletter for the particular period of history that you’re studying. Have them act as reporters of the times. A newsletter about Theodore Roosevelt might include an article about his “big stick” or the Panama Canal. A newsletter about Ancient Egypt could have an advice column entitled “Keeping It Under Wraps” by the Mummy. If the focus was ancient Greece, it might contain the “scores” of the first Olympians.
Newsletters work well in other classes, too. When students have finished reading a novel, they can create a newsletter about the events in the novel from the point of view of one or more of the characters. In science, students can write about the information they’re learning as if it were breaking news. Music students can tell about the composers of the pieces their playing as if they were the next-door neighbors. And art students can describe the work of famous artists as if they were art critics.
Once all of the articles are completed, it’s time to put it all together. Students who are good at grammar can work as the copy editors, making grammatical corrections and noting where something needs clarification. Others can work on obtaining images to include, whether they use clip art, royalty-free images online, or their own photographs. Another student can be responsible for choosing a template and inserting the articles. Still others can be in charge of gathering mailing or email addresses of parents and sending the newsletter out.
As you decide on your lesson plans, consider using newsletters as a creative assignment in your classes. Your students will learn so much more than just the facts.