Two to three weeks
Community newsletters encourage students to use nonfiction writing to voice their opinions and spread awareness about social justice issues impacting their communities. The act of creating and publishing the newsletter gives students a deeper understanding of the connection between literacy and social action.
- Determine what kinds of nonfiction writing students have studied.
- Explore nonfiction formats such as “how to” writing, expert articles, persuasive essays, interviews and book reviews.
- Gather resources and examples of newsletters as models.
- Determine how to assign newsletter contributions and group contributors. The material may be produced as a class, individually, in pairs and in small groups.
- Introduce students to the Do Something Student Planning Guide. Instruct them in mapping the steps necessary to complete the newsletter.
- Share the sample rubric or adapt it into a checklist. Refer to the rubric to define expectations before students begin working.
- Brainstorm topics that connect to central text.
- Determine the audience for the community newsletter (other classes, other grades, families, larger school community, outside community members, etc.). Talk to students about their intended audience.
- Instruct students to choose nonfiction writing and art styles for their contributions.
- Direct students to plan and draft their art and written work. Allow time for feedback, revisions and finalization.
- Have students choose a newsletter format. Students can print and lay out their work, or use computer templates such as those found in Microsoft Word or Pagemaker.
- Copy and distribute completed newsletters to other classes, other grades, families, the larger school community and outside community members.
- Arrange an in-class “publishing party” during which students unveil their newsletter and read one another’s contributions. Invite your intended audience when possible.
- Students can give each other feedback orally or on sticky notes during the publishing party.
- If you adapted the rubric, students can self-assess their own work using the checklist.
English language learners
English language learners can benefit from this task by working cooperatively with others, practicing sharing their ideas orally and learning from others’ use of language. Including visual artwork also provides English language learners a mode other than writing though which to creatively express their knowledge, ideas and opinions.
Connection to anti-bias education
Sharing a community newsletter shows students they have the power to inform and call others to action.