Grade 8 Magazine Project

-by Dave Scott, Grade 8 Humanities

Recently grade 8 Humanities students finished an inquiry unit that brought together an independent novel study with the creation of their own magazine. For this project students were asked to select a novel of their choice and work through a series of four writing assignments listed below. Each writing piece was given a two page spread in their magazine. This along with a cover, quote page, table of content and ad page, resulted in a 12 page magazine. An outline of each of the four writing assignments can be found at these links on the class blog:
·                         Making a connection between a song and your novel
                           Interview with your main character
·                         Where I’m From poem creation
Because we wanted the magazine portion of the project to mirror as close as possible work that professional graphic artists do in the field, we had students work in the Adobe design program inDesign. Although this program is more difficult to learn compared to a Macintosh program such as Pages, because professionals in the field use this program and the range of creative design options it allows for, we decided that we would spend the extra time to learn this application. As Mallory said, “It was great to have the opportunity to be open to professional editing software that we wouldn’t be able to use otherwise. This program allowed us to be really creative and have full control of our layout, designing everything ourselves.” The following blog post provides direction and supporting YouTube how to videos to help students to use the inDesign program:

          An outline of the project and supporting links on how to use inDesign

The level of student engagement for this project was high. Based on findings from other inquiry projects, the factors that seem to be at work that make an inquiry project engaging is the extent students are given ownership over the design and creation of an original product and the degree of creativity the project allows for. Rather than sending students off on their own, however, control over the creative process and rich opportunities to innovate, does not mean anything goes. There are specific ways of knowing and doing particular to this medium. To bring students into the discipline, we connected students with experts, exposed them to many examples of innovative and creative design layouts in magazines, and provided multiple feedback loops for students to get constructive feedback on how to improve their magazine. As can be seen by the quality and sophistication of the work students created, this process seemed to provide an effective framework and we were extremely happy with the work students produced.