This term, 8X3 are set to be studying a unit on newspaper writing. None of them read newspapers, of course, but we’ve attempted to make it more appealing to them by focussing it on ‘celebrities’ in the hope that they’ll want to write about them.
Well, I say ‘we’. I mean the department, as frankly this isn’t my ideal Unit – give me something with some texts to study – but I do understand why we have to do it, given the demands of the English Language paper at GCSE. The final outcome is a tabloid or broadsheet front page, a combined English and ICT task that generally results in not a great deal of writing. It was a nightmare when I taught it with my Year 8 middle set last year, and it looks set to be the same this year. It’s a piecemeal Unit with only a very loose theme and no real ‘hook’.
As a result, I’m doing what any good teacher does in this situation – inventing one.
I figure that what they need is a story to believe in. Something that they care even slightly about. So we’re going to start off by inventing a celebrity together – a male actor, model and millionaire. We’ll write some tabloid articles about his exploits, and the lurid nights out in Hollywood. We’ll mock up a front page showing a photograph of him being arrested. We’ll put together some broadsheet columns, hand-wringing about how he’s setting a bad example.
Then we’re going to kill him.
We’ll write about the discovery of his body, about his rival who might have done it and what they think happened to him, then maybe even an obituary commemorating him. Tasteless? Maybe, but tasteless seems to be what gets them enthused.
The whole idea has actually got me quite excited. I’ll write about RAG123 marking and a few other pedagogical initiatives later this week, but for the meantime, wish me luck…