Kiersta Fricke-Gostnell or

Rogue Community College

Winter Term 2007


Winter 2007 ESL Newsletter can be viewed at


CA Objective

Community Resources – 8/Advocacy

1.- Discuss areas that most affect your community.

Community Resources – 11/Diversity 

7. Write an original story or folk tale

8. Write a personal narrative

10. Interact with other student speakers and take notes

12. Read and talk about history of race relations (and other issues) in the U.S.A. and in students’ home countries.


Our own objective - student civic engagement through creating a newspaper to reflect their issues of concern and interest


CASAS Competencies: 

2.7 Understand aspects of society and culture

2.7.1 Interpret information about holidays

2.7.2 Interpret information about ethnic groups, cultural groups, and language groups

2.7.3 Interpret information about social issues

2.7.6 Interpret materials related to the arts, such as fine art, music, drama, and film



Easy English News

The Byline – RCC Student Newspaper

Medford Mail Tribune

Read to Write by Gillia, Ingle, Mumford; McGraw-Hill, 1997; ISBN:0-07-023721-2

Student/teacher journals

Website on Public Hearings by Municipal Research and Services Center in Washington:



- Courthouse to hear debate on local library issue.  Unfortunately, students could not get in because it was too crowded.

- Library to hear Dr. Tutt from Washington state perform speeches by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

- RCC international student Flamur Vehapi presented his journey from Kosovo

- Trip to the Capitol in Salem


This term project on civics engagement through using and creating community resources began with the activity developed

at our Fall Silver Falls Meeting.  I had noticed that even higher level ESL students seemed disinterested in, or intimidated by, reading

the newspaper in English. How could newspapers be more easily understood, looked at critically, and be made more relevant

to students’ lives?



We began the term by students interviewing each other about their newspaper reading habits, which sections they looked at, did

they read headlines first, etc.


Then we looked at different sections of the Medford Tribune newspaper.  I sent them on a “scavenger hunt” with questions about

where they would find information on various topics in the newspaper.  We talked about scanning and skimming for information.


During this time, we also discussed civic topics of high interest to students.  The favorites were: education, including the libraries;

immigration issues; and the war in Iraq.  Students also wrote in their journals about some of these issues and how they affected them. 

They wrote a lot about their education and career goals.  The journals were an excellent way for me to get to know students better and

to help them individually with their goals. Students also became more involved in supporting each other verbally in class, due to the

journals and discussions of topics of interest. For example, students shared practical information about local schools, gangs and advice

on helping children in school.


We also read the ESL newspaper, Easy English News.  Students were highly engaged in reading and discussing the newspaper articles. 

Students participated in jig-saw activities, with different groups presenting about different articles or portions of one article. 


Students especially appreciated the articles on historical events and leaders in the U.S., such as the Civil Rights movement, Martin

Luther King Junior, Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and the American Civil War.  These articles, as well as the wonderful performance

by Dr. Tutt re-enacting Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X’s speeches and international student Flamur Vehapi presenting

his journey from Kosovo, gave students real-life historical perspective, particularly regarding civil rights and immigration issues.

These readings and interactions with speakers also prepared some of the students for our trip to Salem to visit the Capitol.


After laying the groundwork with the above lessons, students were receptive to the idea of writing their own newspaper.  They were ready

to write their own editorials, personal essays, tips on tourist spots, recipes, and movie reviews.  Students used some of the articles in the RCC

student newspaper, the Byline, as models for their own articles.  (Students also read about Flamur in the Byline and felt more of a connection

to credit students because they had met and related to Flamur.  Students composed a class thank-you letter to Flamur for his presentation.)


In addition to reading and discussing newspaper articles, we also read and discussed essays from the book, Read to Write.  Students

were particularly captivated by two essays, You’re Full of Goodness Spread it Around and A Short Biography of the Long life of

Benjamin Franklin (the consummate newspaper man!)  The essay on “goodness” prompted a critical discussion about how newspapers

often portray bad news and why.  The essay influenced the class to make their newspaper full of positive news, hence the title, ESL Positive News!


The end of the term culminated in a field trip to Salem for ABS Day at the Capitol.  Only 4 ESL students could make the long, one-day trip

from Medford due to work and family schedules.  However, students reported that it was a wonderful bonding experience and inspirational

to hear the Governor, and the student speakers talk about reaching their goals.  Students also enjoyed the tour and meeting

Senator Alan Bates.


Upon returning, the four students presented the digital pictures they had taken, to the class.  They were also invited, by our Director,

to present to instructors and managers at a Leadership Meeting.  This was a special event because students spoke publicly to

unfamiliar folks and effectively represented their classmates and our department to the larger college.


My observation is that the newspaper project integrated the civics lessons learned and brought history and current events alive

for studentsIt allowed students to synthesize what they learned and then produce something of their own.  The project bonded

the students and helped make the class a community, as well.


One of the students Daniela Hopper from Brazil, transitioning now to ABE and soon to college, summed it up well in the newsletter, “All of these

activities and visits made us learn more about ourselves, this nation, and about our rights and duties.”


Next steps:  In the Fall, perhaps, do another newsletter with other instructors and include articles from other ESL levels.

If anyone is interested in receiving the template for this newsletter I can send it to you.

Reading the Newspaper
Class Newspaper Ideas