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What’s your opinion? Students write about belonging 

Project fuses argumentative writing, research & digital design

Godfrey-Lee — “Girls feel ashamed when they get dress-coded and put on the spot by a teacher,” wrote Lee High School sophomore Desiree Huitron in an editorial for English class. 

It’s a topic on which she writes with some authority.

“I once had a teacher tell me my outfit looked like a certain celebrity and that I shouldn’t dress like that for school,” she said. “It was unnecessary and didn’t make me feel very good.” 

Sharing her opinion on school dress codes served as the first assignment of a larger project in English 10: one in which Lisa Hofman challenged her students to choose a topic they were passionate about and write an editorial with supporting research. 

Sophomores Desiree Huitron, center, and Estrella Rodreiguez present their digital magazine to substitute teacher, far left, at the gallery walk (courtesy)

Students with similar topics formed groups to create a digital magazine website, then presented them to peers and staff members. 

“Both the editorial and the digital magazines connected to our unit question, ‘Do people need to belong?’” Hofman said. “We prepared for their editorials by reading works of fiction and non-fiction and discussing how authors argue their points and support them with sources.”

Students connected their editorials with their magazine content. 

For their site, for example, Desiree and her group tied their editorial topics on school dress codes, body image and cell phone use under the topic “Teen Struggles.”

Project Relevance 

Hofman required each website to have a cohesive design to bring together multiple topics, including photos and links to outside sources and citations for everything that wasn’t their original thoughts. 

Several groups organized their digital magazines with one homepage and individual pages for each subject. 

Desiree said she learned how to upload photos to her website and make a carousel — a way to scroll through multiple photos — using photos of outfits teachers told her violated the dress code. 

“The photos and my editorial should encourage students to share their negative experiences with teachers and the dress code to administration,” she said. “It’s not necessary for staff to criticize, and most of the time it’s only female students who get dress-coded.” 

Lisa Hofman instructs her English 10 students how to build their digital magazine websites

Sophomore Chris Maldonado said his group worked really hard on their digital magazine’s homepage. 

“It was pretty fun,” he said. “I learned a bunch of new things, like how to make a website and add links to images, and liked working with my friends instead of by myself.” 

For his editorial page, Chris argued why Esports should be considered a real sport. 

“Esports are important to people, and for some it’s their career,” he said. “It doesn’t require as much physical exertion but it still requires skills and hours of practice to be considered a professional competitor.” 

As a former journalism teacher and yearbook adviser, Hofman said she tried to relate curriculum content to careers in communications.

“I am eager to make projects relevant and hopefully engaging for my students,” she said, “especially for those who want to pursue the actual field.”

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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