This Saturday morning, an American teacher, Timothy Barnes, and twenty-six international volunteers had fun writing news articles at the Waishuanghsi campus. To help the volunteers master the basic concepts of news-article writing, “Teacher Tim” started with two small games. First, volunteers asked their partners common journalism questions (the 5 Ws) to help guess the names of popular celebrities given to them on cards. Next was a story-making game. Both were designed to help volunteers organize the information they discovered and use it to develop their stories. From these games, volunteers got much more relaxed and interested in writing.
Feeling the enthusiasm of the volunteers, Teacher Tim in the second hour started by using a published news article (“Facebook Boss to Take Paternity Leave”) as an example story, analyzing it step-by-step to help the volunteers learn the formal process of crafting a news article. According to the lesson, planning and setting the basic structure are crucial to a successful article. For planning, find the answers to the 5 Ws, list the facts about the story, create the article outline, and predict the audience. In the structure part, understand how authors start with a “lead” statement, give the important details in the first paragraph, offer further information that helps the reader learn more, and craft a good conclusion in the final paragraph.
During the last hour, it was the volunteers’ turn to practice. Through interviewing their respective partners, they then completed their first news article: “My Partner’s Most Wonderful Friday Night”. In the end, in addition to giving feedback to each other for the work they just accomplished, some of the volunteers either confidently shared theirs with everyone or asked Teacher Tim directly for more professional advice to polish their writing skills. Each one cherished the unique chance to learn more. And although getting up early on weekends is torture for most college students, it was worthwhile to spend a meaningful Saturday morning writing with everyone in the Office of International and Cross-Strait Academic Exchange.