Thursday, May 10, 2012

J is for Journalist

We have reached the personal profile portion of our English class. This is an assignment that I have experimented with off and on for the last six or seven years, but it truly came into its own last year, when after three solid months of blogging, my students were ready to turn that introspection out. (Plus, they had created quite a body of work for anyone who might profile them to use as a reference.)

The way it works for us is that each student is randomly assigned a classmate to profile. There are at least two interviews, and the first is a basic get-to-know-you opportunity for which the journalist prepares a list of questions designed to uncover a lot of information. After reviewing the notes and reading some of their subject's writing on our online community for background, journalists must narrow the focus to find an "angle" for the profile piece. Next is a second interview with a much more focused set of questions. Our young journalists must also interview friends, classmates, and teachers about their subjects.

The final product is a 500 word profile with a clear focus and theme. (Think "life lesson" because that's our frame of reference at this point.) It is a non-fiction research piece that exposes students to primary sources and demands analysis, synthesis, and artistry, but those are not its greatest strengths.

Life Lesson: The kids love it!

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