By Daniel Verdugo, Ann Arbor Public Schools
Ñ! magazine is an educational project of Huron High School, in Ann Arbor Public Schools, Michigan. This bilingual print publication is designed to meet the Standards of Foreign Languages in the 21st century, and it develops its 5 goal areas, the so-called Five C’s: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities.
This project-based approach to the second language classroom focuses on providing real communicative exchanges and engaging students with real audiences in the target language. Students are invited to participate in the project as writers and content creators. As a publishing project, it offers students multiple opportunities to collaborate and use the target language for meaningful tasks.
Magazines in the WL Classroom
Classroom magazines can be effective media projects to engage students in learning. Traditional magazines for the WL classroom (e.g., Scholastic magazines) tend to be subscription-only publications (about $8/student), and are often designed in the static, non-interactive format of textbooks. While these publications can be helpful, they overlook the role of teachers as curriculum developers, and they fail as media outlets for students’ creativity and self-expression.
Publishing your own classroom magazines also offers great opportunities to develop cultural competency. With each edition, teachers have new opportunities to present cultural topics and current events. Publishing students’ work can be a way to invite students to make connections and recognize different viewpoints and perspectives.
One of the main innovations of Ñ! magazine has been expanding students’ use of Spanish beyond the classroom setting and into their communities. Ñ! is the only bilingual publication in Ann Arbor and it is printed and distributed freely to promote multilingualism and civic engagement.
CREATE · CURATE · CONNECT
Based on my experience with Ñ! magazine, I launched myclassmag.com, an open educational initiative to advance multilingualism and literacy.
My Class Mag uses Creative Commons licenses, so launching your own classroom magazine is simple. Open our magazine template and make a copy of the slide deck. You are free to remix it, adapt it, and distribute it. My Class Mag promotes the publication of media projects in the WL classroom to develop proficiency, digital skills, and critical thinking.
It is important that we, as educators, facilitate opportunities to engage language learners in the creation and curation of new knowledge. We also need to go beyond traditional views of curricula to enable students to participate in real spaces of dialogue that favor reflective attitudes and promote civic values. Media projects in the classroom can motivate students to reflect and write about some of the most important issues of their time.