Put Your Students to Work with This Yearbook Writing Assignment

yearbook captions

This is another guest post from Ryan Novack, a yearbook advisor at George Washington High School in San Francisco. We’re pumped to have his expert take on creating a great yearbook.

By this point, your students have painstakingly gone through the reading process and have analyzed other people’s text for structure, author intent, rhetorical devices etc. Now, it’s time for them to take what they have learned through these yearbook writing ideas and put them to practice with this yearbook writing assignment.

Since this is for the yearbook class, the best way to do this is to have the students write an actual piece for the yearbook. If you have been reading examples of profiles, have the students produce a profile piece and submit it for the yearbook. If you are having the students read examples of captions, have them write captions for photos in the yearbook. If you don’t have photos for the yearbook yet, have each student take three pictures and provide three different captions.

Text Tapping

There are a few ways to practice their writing, but I prefer what is commonly known as “Text Tapping.” This is where the student takes a text that they have been analyzing, using the same essay structure, sentence structure and tone, and they recreate the piece with a different topic. So, if you have been reading profiles from Rolling Stone Magazine, and the students just went through the reading process with a text about Robin Thicke, the students can write a piece about the captain of the Math Club, using the same style, diction, structure and tone as the piece about Robin Thicke.

If you have been analyzing captions, ask the students to find photos that match the tone of the captions you have been looking at. If you have a fashion photo of an actor in a nice suit, find a photo in your photo folders of a student walking down the hall. Have the students apply the same sentence structure to their captions by using the same amount of verbs, nouns, tone, etc.

Text Tapping builds off of the reading lessons you’ve been doing up until this point, because it supports the ideas that you’ve been analyzing. In addition, the students will be so familiar with the text, that they will have an easy time mimicking it.

Growth Happens Through Repetition

The next time you provide them with a text, they will learn the structure of that piece and their knowledge of structure and language will grow even more and more. Hopefully, each time they read, they will read actively and will constantly be growing their knowledge of text structure. Each time they write, as a result, they will be writing from that knowledge base…basically, the students will be learning, and becoming better writers and readers. Victory!

Each time the students write in my class, they also go through the editing process, both individually and with each other’s work. My students’ work is always peer reviewed and the students become comfortable sharing their work with one another for constructive criticism. Since they have been trained as good readers, they instantly become good editors.

Whether you use Text Tapping or another strategy, the most important aspect is that your students are always practicing writing after they practice reading. Students are very good at modeling their writing on other people’s writing. Imitation is a great way for students to learn how to expand their skills. As I always tell my students, “Language is meant to be used, not just identified.”