• 26 May 2020 9:00 PM | Anonymous

    “If you could teach any elective course, what would it be?” the high school principal asked me on my first day at the American Baccalaureate School (ABS), formerly known as the American Bilingual School, in October 2019. Thinking for a few seconds, I replied “journalism.” Thus, the interesting yearlong journey began of teaching an introductory journalism course to Kuwaiti high school students in what would be my first experience teaching both a journalism class and all-female students. Nonetheless, it was a promising challenge I was ready to embrace.

    ABS publishes a quarterly newsletter every academic year that showcases schoolwide events, student and staff honorable recognition, and direct quotes from the administrators befitting of the theme for that particular issue. School management takes pride in distributing this 20-page publication to parents, students and faculty of the ABS community.

    Producing it is no easy feat as I have come to understand as the person who would assume responsibility for its creation as the new journalism teacher. The social media specialist/graphic artist and school photographer knew the ins and outs of creating this media product, and he became my closest ally in showing me the process used to bring the ABS Times periodical to life.

    Thankfully, I had time to adapt to the school climate and students before launching out into the deep waters of educating teenage girls on the principles and practices of journalism, with an emphasis on teaching them graphic design skills that would enable them to design the newsletter, themselves, under my tutelage.

    So, I shadowed my predecessor, Dr. Verica Savic, for a month to learn the ropes. She introduced me to the students, showed me her work pattern and became another ally with whom I could consult and confide in both during and after my “apprenticeship”. I still recall us working diligently with the graphic artist to put out the first issue of the newsletter, which was not easy in that neither of us was familiar with the graphic design software used to assemble it.


    Hit the Ground Running

    Now let’s flash forward to the second quarter when I embarked on the role of full-time journalism instructor for the second half of the semester-long course. I knew how I wanted to conduct the class and what I wanted to teach; ergo, I was excited to share my passion for this subject to a group of students who might appreciate all that the course content had to offer.

    Infatuated with the textbook because of its user-friendly, practical exploration of scholastic journalism with real-world case studies and sidebars of best practices, I planned to capitalize on the value it would bring to the class. So, I took the students to the inventory shop to check out their student textbooks, Introduction to Journalism (A Nextext Coursebook), in our first week of class. They would be responsible for reading the assigned chapters and keeping pace with the lessons and assignments that I would post on their unique Google Classroom page.

    While teaching the first semester group of journalism students proved challenging as most of them had no interest in the class and did not choose to be in it, the second semester group of young ladies blew me away with their humble respect, keen interest and diligent work ethic. Several of them already had graphic design and website building experience, which they could and did use to their creative advantage in the class.

    It was a breath of fresh air to begin the new semester with a clean slate wherein I could “run the class as I saw fit,” according to the headmistress. The second semester group of young ladies demonstrated how much they wanted to learn about journalism.  I began this class by distributing a needs assessment via Google form (my school used Google Education Suite) to determine their learning needs/goals/interests. Thus, I’d be able to tailor my lesson planning and teaching techniques in a way to accommodate their objectives as students new to this field of study.

    In fact, I later discovered that some of them had preconceived notions that the class would be boring as they wrote in the class evaluation toward the end of the class: “I would totally recommend this class to other students. At first I thought that it would be a boring class, but it was a really fun class. I am so glad that I have chosen journalism.” However, over time they have come to relish the class as they pointed out because it allowed them to tap into the creative hemisphere of their brains by working on versatile, practical assignments meant to strengthen their writing, editing, and research skills all while allowing them to be inventive in their work.


    Project-Based Learning At Best

    For instance, they had to complete an infographic project, and it enabled them to exploit their graphic design savvy by creating an informational graphic (i.e., infographic or infograph) about any current event or on an original story they previously wrote for the class. Indeed, I embraced other student-generated creative ideas as it’s my teaching philosophy to promote the 21st century global skills of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking, which are essential for both the personal and professional success of the next generation, in my classes.

    As became the pattern with this ambitious and tenacious class, they managed to wow me with their creative genius by creating infographics representative of their individual tastes. Many of them used a website called Piktochart, a graphic designer’s paradise perfect for concocting all sorts of visually appealing projects, including posters, presentations and infographics. The free website has a myriad of templates from which to choose; this was a prime instance of how teachers can learn from their students because I never knew about this online resource until I began evaluating their colorful and aesthetically pleasing infographics.

    Another project that they told me they treasured was the interview story assignment in which they had to interview someone about a unique story idea that they would later craft into an article related to one of the four types of interviews that we studied in class. Throughout the semester, I encouraged them to read and explore the textbook because it was very student-friendly and contained many student-written news stories useful for careful analysis.

    Working in partners for this real-world journalistic task, they generated interesting story ideas, received helpful teacher tips on interviewing and proceeded to conduct their interviews. Then, they had a week, post-interview, to work on their stories before submission for evaluation. I thoroughly enjoyed reading their stories. One student pair interviewed their mothers about the Gulf War in 1991 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, leaving Kuwaiti citizens desolate and despondent.  The story contained original photographs from the historic event and was written in an in-depth Q&A format.

    Another student interviewed her father about his experience living and studying in the United States as a working family man. Another student pair interviewed three random foreign expatriates about their lifestyles in Kuwait. This assignment pushed them out of their comfort zones into the realm of the genuine duty of a journalist: gathering and talking to sources for information needed to write a compelling and competent newsworthy story that resonates with readers.

    The COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly truncated the class curriculum and semester once we transitioned to virtual learning. Our hopeful plan of going on a field trip to a real media outlet dissipated, and I could not cover everything that I had hoped to teach prior to the abrupt school closure. Nonetheless, the class managed the e-learning situation well after overcoming initial, inevitable hurdles of adaptability to a brand new schedule and way of learning from/at home.

    An advocate for presentations and public speaking, I assigned students the task of finding a professional journalist to research that they would then create a presentation about for the purpose of presenting it to our virtual class, which worked well pre-spring break in April. Once again they dazzled me with the diversity and depth of the journalists they chose to research, some of whom are as follows: Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour, Walter Cronkite, Hu Shuli, Shereen Bhan and Louis Theroux.


    The Joy of Teaching and Learning

    All in all, it’s probably no understatement to say that the students found the class rigorous and overwhelming, at times, especially for an elective course that many view as an easy GPA booster; however, their overall positive feedback has shown that journalism is a vivacious and multifaceted subject crucial to the democratic ideals of a flourishing global society.

    When asked about what she enjoyed most and/or least about the introductory journalism class, one student wrote the following survey response: “I've enjoyed the whole learning process in this class since it allowed me to improve and develop my writing skills. I also enjoyed how this class allowed me to live the life of a journalist. It gave me the chance to roam around the school to get that perfect story that could eventually make it into the ABS Times. However, all great things come with their bad sides. The thing that I enjoyed least about the class was the fact that it was the first period of our day. I believe that this class deserved to take place after most students are awake. I say this because, during class, most of us are tired and can't function that fast, which may reduce the value of the course.”

    And for the grand finale! The students’ knowledge, awareness, skills and attitude of journalism culminated in a final project wherein they had to build a class website showcasing a reasonable dose of the spectacular work they did all semester both at school and online in what has been deemed an unprecedented era in global education in light of the health pandemic. Visit their novel website here, and peer into the window of this dynamic high school journalism class.


  • 26 Jan 2018 11:36 PM | Deleted user

    At the beginning of the last year, I shared motivational quotes about teaching. With the coming of this New Year, I would like to share some quotes that we teachers can share with our students to motivate and encourage them. The ways you can implement these quotes in your classes are numerous: simply sharing them with students, asking them to write reflective responses on or share their opinion about these quotes, giving the quotes as topics for group discussions, asking students to illustrate the quotes with their life experiences, and many others. The quotes below are categorized into five thematic groups with ten quotes in each: power of education, power of learning, power of mistakes, power of reading, and power of perseverance. I hope you and your students will enjoy them.

    Power of Education

    1. “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom” (George Washington Carver).
    2. “You can never be overdressed or overeducated” (Oscar Wilde).
    3. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” (Nelson Mandela).
    4. “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself” (John Dewey).
    5. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school” (Albert Einstein).
    6. “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet” (Aristotle).
    7. “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” (Malcolm X).
    8. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” (Benjamin Franklin).
    9. “Education is the movement from darkness to light” (Allan Bloom).
    10. “Education is the foundation upon we build our future” (Christine Gregoire).

    Power of Learning

    1. “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow” (Anthony J. D’Angelo).
    2. “The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as long as we live” (Mortimer Adler).
    3. “Learning is like rowing upstream, not to advance is to drop back” (Chinese Proverb).
    4. “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking” (William Butler Yeats).
    5. “Learning is not a spectator sport” (D. Blocher).
    6. “The best way to predict your future is to create it” (Abraham Lincoln).
    7. “It is wiser to find out than to suppose” (Mark Twain).
    8. “Learning never exhausts the mind” (Leonardo da Vinci).
    9. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing is life is to keep your mind young” (Henry Ford).
    10. “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it” (Pablo Picasso).

    Power of Mistakes  

    1.  “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” (John Powell).
    2. “You will only fail to learn if you do not learn from failing” (Stella Adler).
    3. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over” (Richard Branson).
    4. “Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on?” (Peter McWilliams).
    5. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” (Bill Gates).
    6. “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently” (Henry Ford).
    7. “A mistake should be your teacher, not your attacker. A mistake is a lesson, not a loss. It is a temporary, necessary detour, not a dead end” (Anonymous).
    8. “Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom” (Phyllis Theroux).
    9. “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field” (Niels Bohr).
    10. “Good people are good because they have come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success” (William Saroyan).

    Power of Reading

    1.  “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope” (Kofi Annan).
    2. “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free” (Frederick Douglass).
    3. “Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light” (Vera Nazarian).
    4. “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body” (Richard Steele).
    5. “A parent or a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever” (Louis L’Amour).
    6. “A book is a gift you can open again and again” (Garrison Keillor).
    7. “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library” (Jorge Luis Borges).
    8. “It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish” (S.I. Hayakawa).
    9. “Wear the old coat and buy the new book” (Austin Phelps).
    10. “He that loves reading has everything within his reach” (William Godwin).

    Power of Perseverance

    1. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer” (Albert Einstein).
    2. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it” (Maya Angelou).
    3. “I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking” (Og Mandino).
    4. “Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere” (Barack Obama).
    5. “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th” (Julie Andrews).
    6. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” (Michael Jordan).
    7. “If people only knew how hard I’ve worked to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all” (Michelangelo).
    8. “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential” (John Maxwell).
    9. “A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying” (B. F. Skinner).
    10. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward” (Martin Luther King, Jr.).


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