They had just returned from the five day Thanksgiving holiday. Monday's very multi-cultural 3rd graders were excited about the upcoming holidays. When it came time for the social studies assignment to write an outline for a newspaper article, they had a worksheet with the famous “Five Ws of Journalism” to fill in.
“What do we write about?”
I’ve always found that it’s much easier to write about something I’m interested in rather than an assigned, boring topic I know little about. Since the lesson plan was a little vague about answers to the kids’ question, I suggested writing about Thanksgiving or the upcoming Christmas holiday. Santa Claus is always a favorite “Who”.
Who is the story about?
When is it going to happen?
Where is it happening?
Why is it celebrated?
How is it celebrated?
“We don’t have Christmas. We’re Jewish”
How about Hanukah, then?
“I’m Indian and we don’t do Christmas either. Can I write a story about something else?”
My knowledge of world cultural celebrations is pretty much exhausted so I allowed anyone who didn’t want to do the holiday theme choose something else as long as it followed the “Five Ws” format.
“Indian kid again: I wanna do a story about the Mumbai bombings. I already know the ‘Who’ ”
Fortunately, that’s about the time I noticed that the “News Outline” on the lesson plan was related to the earlier reading lesson on the “First Thanksgiving”. The kids were supposed to pretend to be a reporter attending and reporting on that event.
CTL-ALT-DELETE faulty instruction from the substitute teacher! Reset the topic and get back on a less controversial track.
(…although, the bombing story from a 3rd grader's viewpoint would be more interesting)