“Students are suddenly mute. Is it a harmless school prank or a mystery disease?”
Neither. It’s one of Grade 7 students’ front page story showcased on the staircase wall of MSB’s Middle School.
Writing is an ever-present activity in the MSB classroom, and it is one that the children love taking part in.
In a recent English Language Arts class, students had the opportunity to study The Crucible, a 1953 play by American playwright Arthur Miller. Based on historical people and real events, the classic drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria.
The Crucible was chosen for several reasons, said Deva, the Grade 7 Humanities Teacher.
It's a classic which American adolescents read in school, so the cultural and historical knowledge is helpful for students who may study there one day.
It's also a play in which a number of the main characters are of the similar age to our students, and they struggle with quite recognizable issues such as peer pressure, making good decisions, and whether to be truthful when doing so could get you in trouble.
Also, plays are meant to be read aloud. Sometimes students have difficulty with sitting quietly to read, and they enjoyed being able to move around and express themselves.
The idea with the newspaper article was to take some of the ideas from the play and transfer them to a different medium. At this age, students should be exposed to many different writing styles and purposes. For this assignment, they were asked to consider the journalist's questions of who/what/where/why/when/how, a skill they are also practicing during morning meetings, Deva said.
The thought-provoking play set children’s imagination on fire and they turned their own version of “Mass Hysteria” into breaking news stories with front page designs parodying top media outlets like CNN and BBC.
“The newspaper writing assignment sparks their creativity. They had a chance to combine their writing with visual thinking through the use of font, layout, logos and images. Being able to create something visually interesting also helped them take more pride in the final result,” he said.
At MSB, we hope our students grow up to become motivated and innovative individuals who are able to adapt and excel in any learning or work environment.