Life @ Kaplan: Breaking News - Students Create Newspaper!

At our Portland center, students have found an innovative way to improve their English skills by writing their very own newspaper. We spoke to Sadie Dickman, a teacher at our Portland school, to find out what inspired her to start a newspaper writing class and what it means to the students.

What inspired you to start The Kaplan Times?

Kaplan Portland expanded earlier this year and we were looking for new topics for elective classes. I thought starting a newspaper class would be a fun writing class because it provides clear language goals and an audience for the students written work.

Who writes for The Kaplan Times?

Anyone who is interested can participate! I never turn down any work. When we run the newspaper elective class, my students research and write stories in class. Other teachers also encourage their students to hand in assignments that were interesting or successful, which is a great way to motivate students to edit their work! We also have students who just want to share their written English work or have something they’d like to share with the rest of the class.

Sadie with her students Jin, Yasser & Essa who all contributed to this month's newspaper
Sadie with her students Jin, Yasser & Essa who all contributed to this month's newspaper

What do the students write about?

We normally publish a four-page newspaper each month. We try to focus on “news-worthy” stories, but I encourage students to write about anything they are interested in. For example, students write restaurant reviews, stories about Portland events and advice for new students. We even had an article about Ramadan that was written by a group of both Muslim and non-Muslim students. We also published a “literature edition” one month that was full of student fiction.

Is the newspaper popular at Kaplan International Colleges?

Yes! Everyone at the college takes a newspaper when they come out, and the writers are really proud to have their bylines in the paper! I am so, so proud. The students work so well together, and I get such creative and intelligent articles. In fact, a TOEFL student just emailed me a 24-line riddle about a famous person in Portland for November’s newspaper. The students really do all the work, from choosing the ideas to editing the paper.

What advice would you give to students from other colleges who might be interested in starting a newspaper of their own?

  1. Get the support of your teachers. Teachers in General English classes can ask students to write up the results of a survey, interview or research activity. Teachers in writing skills classes can suggest that students send in successful pieces of writing, which is a great way to motivate them.
  2. Students should look for photos, puzzles, riddles and other fun things to make the paper interesting. Also, consider adding the school’s activity calendar to the paper if you have room!
  3. Finally, make it look official - I use a newspaper template in Publisher to lay everything out in column format.

If you'd like to read this month's copy of the The Kaplan Times, please click here.

To find out more about Kaplan Portland College's social and educational activities, you can find out more on their Facebook page.

Did you see any challenging words in the above blog post? Learn their meanings below! 

Elective classes: Classes for Intensive English classes. Teachers decide which topic will suit the students and help them learn English.

Riddle: a question posed as a problem to be solved or guessed

News-Worthy: a story interesting enough to write about

Innovative: a new way of doing something

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