What are teens really thinking about? This is the question that English teacher Meenoo Rami (@meenoorami) set out to answer. The juniors in earth and water streams created their very own magazines with original writing and published them on Issuu.com.
JACOB LOTKOWSKI: How did you come up with this idea?
MEENOO RAMI: I was brainstorming writing ideas with another teacher over the summer, and the idea appealed to me because it’s a form that everyone is familiar with, but it’s not something that most people have done or produced.
As Ms. Rami explains, very few students are asked to do feature writing. She said that she wanted the magazine to be be a complete body of work that her students created from cover to cover. The idea that it would be a teen focused magazine was also a must for her. She wanted her students to have a chance to talk about what they like and what they’re passionate about.
JL: Did you have any apprehension once you started thinking about the project?
MR: I doubted that it would even ever come to be. Trying to get 33 students pulling in the same direction, trying to figure out the quality of the writing, acceptable topics, the layout, how would it all come together, where would the art go, what would it look like, what would it feel like?
Ms. Rami goes on to explain that she’s glad we did it once because now she knows what to expect and what to improve for next year. She says it was a great learning experience for her and her classes.
JL: Do you have anymore to say about what the hardest part was?
MR: I think finding a name that everyone was happy with was really hard. I didn’t anticipate how hard that would be.
JL: Has any other educator done this before that you based this project off of?
MR: Ya know, I’m sure there are, but when I did my own search and reached out to my network of teachers I didn’t really find any. If there are any, I haven’t come across them yet. I would love to find other examples of this type of work from other classrooms.
JL: What did you want the outcome to be?
MR: I wanted my students to experience the writing process from the beginning to the end. What it takes to write a good feature piece, that would be spec targeted to a teen audience, how to incorporate good research, possible quotes from experts, but to still maintain a casual tone to the writing.
Ms. Rami wanted her students to strike a balance between solid content and tone which she thought was crucial to the message of the magazine.
JL: How has the response been, through Tweeting out the link during EduCon?
MR: Oh my gosh, amazing. During EduCon Alicia did an impromptu presentation to thirtysome educators who were all very impressed. The Twitter response has been incredible. Hopefully it will go on The New York Times education blog, The Learning Network, so I think we should get a lot of eyes on it.