Class projects can be an excellent way to focus the whole class and get them working together towards a common goal. Taking some ‘time out’ from regular classes and doing something completely different can really help group dynamics and you may also give quieter or less able students a chance to shine. Making a class magazine is a project that will appeal to most groups as it allows individuals to work on what interests them. Starting a project from scratch can seem a little daunting to begin with so here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to make a class magazine.
- Bring in some magazines. Let your students have a look through them. You could do a class survey on magazines at this stage or simply chat to your class about the type of magazines they like.
- On the board brainstorm the different sections that magazines have. Try to include as much variety as possible so there’s something for everyone. (Horoscopes, beauty tips, sports pages, film reviews, cinema news, fashion, photo stories, comic strips, puzzles, technology pages, music, interviews with famous people, recipes, jokes, problem pages etc. etc.)
- Ask your students if they would like to make a magazine in English. Hopefully they’ll be keen to! Ask students for ideas for a name for the magazine and hold a class vote to decide on the name.
Organising the project
- Now you need students to choose who they want to work with (pairs or small groups) and what section they want to produce. Make a list of what everyone is going to do, in case you, or they, forget by the next class.
- Set the deadlines and plan the sections. Negotiate with your students about how long they will need to produce their section and allow sufficient class time for you to be able to help each group with their section and provide language input and error correction. You can also encourage students to look for information at home, on the internet etc. Set a date where everyone must bring their completed work to class and try to stick to it. Having said that, if your students get really into it and are producing good work you could always extend the deadline if you think their time is being well spent.
- Collect all the sections and work with your class to decide on the order they will go in. Students can now make a contents page and a cover for their magazine.
- Put the magazine together with a book spine or by stapling it. Before you do this you may want to make several copies of the magazine. If you have the facilities to do so, one for each student could be really nice and they can take it home to show their parents. If that’s not possible, make a couple of copies and hang them in the classroom for other students to look at.
Exploiting the magazine
- If you teach several classes of a similar level you can take the magazines in to show your other groups and make some activities based around it or simply let the students read it and do the puzzle pages. You may even inspire your other groups to make one too.
- If you have access to a computer room you could really make a professional looking magazine but don’t worry if you don’t, a homemade looking one can be just as good.
- Having an end product to work towards can be really motivating for a class. Making a class magazine should be an enjoyable experience for you and the students and it will also give you a chance to stand back a little and observe your students in action. You should be available to guide them and offer support and advice but it will also give you a chance to find out more about their interests which will help you to plan for following lessons.
By JO BUDDEN