Last week, my High-Intermediate Reading and Writing students created a school newsletter. To create the newsletter, I used a combination of various techniques I had learned in graduate school, which were theorized to increase motivation in the ESL classroom. To stimulate my students’ interest in writing I used a genre-based approach. Under this approach, my students talked about the topics that were interesting to them. Then they chose the title and the three sections of the newsletter. Next, they chose the topics of the content that they wanted to include in each section.
To create the content of the newsletter, I had my students study and analyze the content of a real newspaper. Then, with an understanding of how an English newspaper was designed, my students decided on how they would gather information for their articles. Each student wrote their own interview questions, then the class as a whole discussed and voted on which questions to use. Each student participated in interviewing sources for the articles. Those students who were in class on the day of the interviews were in charge of writing the copy for that section. Those students who were not in class on the day of the interviews created the content for other sections of the newsletter. On the day that we wrote the newsletter, I divided the class into groups and each group wrote the content for their section.
After the content was written, the groups began to finalize the newsletter. First the groups exchanged the passages and peer-edited each other’s writing. After the writing was edited, the groups united and the full class chose the photos to include in the newsletter. Now that the content and photos had been chosen, I worked with the students to create a basic layout of the newsletter, which we used to create a digital document. After the first draft was typed and laid out, the students performed a second edit. I allowed my students to do all of the editing, putting them in control of the production of their newsletter. I believe that my students were motivated to produce such a well-written newsletter because they knew that it would be read by their peers at the school, and because they were in control of each step of the writing process.