The Wiscasset Way
In search of a way to create an authentic learning experience for students to learn how to use and identify source materials to support personal statements, “The Wiscasset Way” was born.
The Wiscasset Way is a student-produced school newspaper to give students an opportunity to write stories, and publish artwork or cartoons, and so much more. It was started when Wiscasset Middle High School teacher Kim Andersson was teaching a unit that crossed over both her ELA and WAE Cooperative Education class. Students needed to meet a school standard to support statements they wrote with reliable sources, so what better way to teach this than to produce your own newspaper?
Andersson found it can be difficult to find reliable sources online in today's digital age. That sparked an interest in teaching the skill of distinguishing what is and is not valid online. She did this by taking a hands on approach which allows her to “engage students and help them discover their learning on their own."
"While I can easily stand and lecture to students, having kids utilize learned skills to find higher meaning for themselves better meets Maine’s Guiding Principles for learning, as required by DOE. So in a nutshell, I thought up the paper idea to help kids identify accurate source materials in their writing." Andersson wrote a small grant request for a check to help the project.
The first production of the paper involved seven students. The second edition will not only feature these seven, but will also have content produced by six other students outsidethe WAE program. The first copy included a piece written by student John Cooley about color blindness. Another story, written by student Jesse Deion, debated whether or not students should be able to listen to music in school. Andersson said the paper has taken on its own life, and she anticipates next year it will be considered an extracurricular activity. When asked why this paper is important to her, she stated, "Providing students an opportunity to have a voice in their school, to explore their first amendment rights, to create meaningful work, all as an end to meeting WMHS identified learning standards and performance indicators and exercise the Maine Guiding Principles in this work make the school paper pretty important work."
The paper also allows a sense of pride for students, the school, and the community while having fun. Students have showed excitement over the new paper and it seems it will be here to stay.
When asked about the process of producing the paper, Andersson ensured that the designs and layouts are completed and thought out fully by the students. This really gives students a chance to personalize the paper. The start of the paper is a meeting where students can go around, come up with and assign content. After this, just like any other professional paper, the pieces written move on to the editor before production. The group hopes to print the paper once a month with the online version being updated weekly. The next print deadline is May 18, so be sure to keep your eyes open for a new edition coming soon!