In sixth grade English, learning the elements of a short story is a fairly common practice. However, Adams Central Middle School teachers Rhonda Berstch and Lana Shoaf, took this year's project in a unique direction. What started out as a writing assignment to be read by younger students,turned in to an international project.
When talk of the assignment first began, Shoaf thought of her brother's students. Her brother, Josh Smith (an Adams Central grad, class of 1998), is an English teacher in South Korea. When the timing of the project wasn't right for his students, he suggested the middle schoolers write to children at an orphanage where he volunteers. Shortly after this suggestion, plans were finalized and the sixth graders began work on their books.
The process started with Josh Smith interviewing 25-30 orphans, reporting back with their: name, grade, favorite colors, places, and people, and anything else they enjoy. After this the classes skyped with Smith, to learn a little more about South Korea. Then they were assigned specific topics pertaining to South Korean culture to research and present in class, in order to understand what the lives of the children they were writing to are like.
Only after learning the basics about the orphans and their culture, did the class begin writing their stories.
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