Guest Blog Post: Competing to Learn

Carolyn has taught all over the world, including Hong Kong and Switzerland.  Currently, she is teaching at a large international school here in Seoul. In addition to teaching high school classes in publications, newspapers and communications, she is the head of their school newspaper. I’m so thankful to have met her at my church here where we both serve on the Hub, our church’s newsletter.

Korean kids love competition. This can be a bad thing when it leads to pressure and cheating, but it can be a good thing if you, say, have two classes with the same learning objectives and want them to compete to demonstrate an understanding of those objectives and win a contest.

I tried this a few weeks ago when I had my two Introduction to Publications classes compete to attend the events and “cover” our annual High School English Week. They interviewed teachers, students and administrators about their participation in the English week activities, such as Poetry with the Principal and performances by the Drama 1 & 2 classes. At the same time, by attending and writing the story or taking photos, they participated in English Week themselves! At the end of the week, the editors, copy editors and layout artists met and planned their two-page newsletter, and the following Monday, they stayed after school to finalize, print and submit their papers, with a little help from their advanced peers on the school newspaper, Tiger Times. The “A+ Report” ended up “beating” the “EW Herald.” While the EW (English Week) Herald was judged by the English Department Chair, the principal and me to have had better quality stories and photos, the A+ Report (Period A Intro to Pub.—they named their own publications too!) had better overall coverage with an optional info-graphic, two cartoons and an article that “covered” the whole week.

The prize was not an A+, something that most kids aspire to, but a pizza party. Since this was a first period class, I brought doughnuts and pastries instead, but they mostly just enjoyed the prestige of winning. Everyone deserved a congratulations, though, as they all participated, worked hard and finalized their own original publication, which is what I personally enjoyed the most. The croissants were pretty good, though, too.

Editor-in-chief helps to finish the layout of the A+ Herald with their copy editors and layout artist.

The editor-in-chief & copy writer work to finalize the EW Report.

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