Going Beyond a Definition: Inquiring Into Leadership Through Writing and Collaboration

20160912_091119Cara McCollum, one of our 8th grade Language Arts teachers here at Chestatee Academy, and her students recently completed a writing project on leaders.  As part of their study of informational writing, students inquired and learned about the elements and parts of a newspaper article.

Students then considered these questions:
·         What are the qualities of a leader?
·         Who is a leader in my life or a world leader I want to know more about?

Students brainstormed ideas and answers individually before sharing in small groups.  Eventually, students shared their ideas with the larger group, and each class crafted a collective list of qualities of leaders.  With this working list of characteristics in mind, students then identified someone who was either a leader in their lives or a global leader.  Ms. McCollum required students to justify their leader choice by asking them to explain how that person embodied leadership.

As part of their study of newspaper writing, students learned about developing meaningful interview questions.    The 8th graders then began drafting potential interview questions; all questions had to be open-ended.  Once students had a complete draft of their interview questions, Ms. McCollum conferenced with each student to help them evaluate their questions.    These writing conferences gave students an opportunity to share and assess their proposed interview questions; these conferences helped students eliminate or tweak any questions that may not have met the standards for an effective interview question.  Students who did not have a person to interview in real life could choose a famous leader to “interview” through research using the library resources provided by Ms. Kell, our media specialist, and Ms. McCollum.

After students conducted their interviews, they began crafting their newspaper articles about their leaders.  The class engaged in a great deal of drafting and peer editing before completing a final draft in Google Documents.   Once students had finished their final edits and revisions, they posted these articles in their class Canvas course.

Ms. McCollum is thrilled with the level of excitement and engagement she saw in all her students throughout this project.  Topic choice, opportunities to share their work and ideas with peers, and real world relevance were essential to the success of the writing project.  Congratulations to Ms. McCollum and her 8th grade writers!