I taught the best writing unit I’ve ever taught in my life. We pretended to be real news reporters for our classroom news company, News4U.
Step by step in the perfect sequence at the exact right pace we developed the skills necessary to write a solid news article. Students chose their favorite article and drew an accompanying image and caption for a classroom newspaper that was distributed throughout the school. Teachers were amazed. Other students wished they could be in my class. Then we took it a step further and read the reports live to video so I could edit them together into our own news program.
During the final week of the unit I took the kids downhill sledding. The day before we watched our news program with all the other Grade 3 students, I told them one of my famous ghost stories.
For our end-of-unit review I asked them a few reflective questions. One of those questions was: What will you remember about this unit 3 months from now? It’s my way of asking what was your favorite part without saying what was your favorite part. Plus it requires them to think about what kind of information a person retains.
Now I’m not saying the unit wasn’t a valuable experience, but the two most popular answers were:
Sledding was awesome!
I love your ghost stories!
After returning the reflections to them asking that they please answer the question with a response about the writing unit, I got what I expected. They loved getting a hard copy of the actual newspaper and they liked watching the news program with the other Grade 3 classes.
I learned what I think a student will remember isn’t always what they really remember.