Why I go to school: A student multimedia project – Lesson Plan


Journalism, Art, English, Social Studies

Estimated Time:

45 to 60 minutes

Grade Level

Grades 7-12


Students will brainstorm why they go to school every day and choose a photo to represent their idea. Then, they will write three to four sentences about their motivation to go to school, while building key multimedia and writing skills.


Pinterest is an online social media platform that encourages users to view, share and display photos and ideas on virtual “pinboards.” This lesson plan will use Pinterest to have students think in-depth about what keeps them in school.


The high school dropout crisis is affecting many American schools, and experts are hard at work trying to find out why kids drop out. The American Graduate initiative and the PBS NewsHour are also reporting on what’s behind the nation’s dropout crisis. To look at the issue from another angle, this lesson plan addresses a elated question: what motivates kids to stay in school?


  1. Have the class watch this video from a NewsHour Extra producer about how the process will work and why this project is important.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J5m6tUXVPk]
  2. Give students a few minutes to think about why they come to school every day and how they might represent that idea visually. Have them look at what’s already on the NewsHour’s Pinterest board for examples.
  3. Have each student sit at a computer and find a photo that represents their idea. They may use personal photos or find fair-use photos on the Web from sources like Flickr, Google Images or Wikimedia Commons. Have students find and save a photo credit to send with their photo that states where it came from. Here are some resources for fair-use photos:

    If students choose to submit a personal photo, please let them know that Pinterest reserves the right to use and even sell the photo as they see fit.

  4. Once students have selected their photos, ask them to write three to four sentences explaining why what’s pictured in the photo motivates them to go to school. Again, see the NewsHour’s Pinterest board for examples. Please note that Pinterest limits photo descriptions to 500 words.
  5. Have students e-mail their completed posts (image URL or image as an attachment with photo credit, three to four sentence description, first name, grade, school, city/state) to newshourextra [at] gmail.com.Make sure they put “Pinterest” in the subject line! We’ll post them to our Pinterest page, and students will be able to see their work online.

Extension Activity

With your class, watch these Student Reporting Labs videos chronicling young people who overcame unique challenges on the Road to Graduation. Homelessness, illness and problems at home almost caused these teens to drop out, but in the end they persevered.

Have the class discuss which parts of the video most resonated with them, which they most agree with and disagree with, and why. Is dropping out a problem in their school? Why or why not? Are there programs in place at your school to help teens overcome obstacles?

Classrooms interested in making their own short videos about overcoming challenges on the path to graduation can visit www.studentreportinglabs.com and use the free curriculum to get started. Please e-mail lclapman [at] newshour.org if you decide to make a video or are interested in the Student Reporting Labs program.

Source: Headline News

What happens when schools suspend young students?


More than three million students are suspended from public schools in the U.S. each year, including some students as young as kindergarten.

Many of these students attend public charter schools, including Success Academy, a network of highly competitive charter schools in New York City, where student suspensions rates are almost three times higher than that of traditional public schools in the city.

Last year, Principal Monica Komery of Success Academy in Brooklyn issued 44 out-of-school suspensions to her 203 kindergartners and first-graders. The school has a zero-tolerance policy around certain behaviors, but suspension is used only as the final consequence of a disciplinary process, Komery said.

Studies show that students who receive out-of-school suspensions see a greater chance of being held back a year, dropping out or ending up in trouble with the law.

Many parents send their children to charter schools because of the strong focus on both learning and discipline. Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, believes behavior sets the stage for learning. “If you get it right in the early years, you actually have to suspend far less when the kids are older, because they understand what is expected of them,” she said.

Jamir Geidi, a former student at Success Academy Upper West, was suspended three or four times as a young elementary school student. He said he began to question why he bothered to go to school. Jamir’s mother said the public school her son now attends works with him when he has behavior issues.

Moskowitz’s critics accuse her of issuing high numbers of out-of-school suspensions for the same students in hopes that they will transfer to another school, keeping Success Academy’s state test scores high – a charge she strongly denies.

Marie Chauvet-Monchik, Principal of Public School 138 in Brooklyn, New York issued zero suspensions last year. “When you send a child home, the child is missing instruction. So, I’m actually robbing the child of an education,” she said.


charter school — schools that receive public funding but are privately run, allowing them to set their own rules on school matters, such as discipline

infraction — a violation or infringement of a set of rules

attrition —the reduction in the number of students attending a school

Warm up questions
  1. What is the discipline code in your school?
  2. Why might a student be suspended from school?
  3. Do strict disciplinary rules help young children learn better?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What is the argument for suspending a first grader and what is the argument against suspending a first grader?
  2. What does a student learn from being sent home when they don’t follow rules?
  3. If you were a kindergarten teacher and one student was misbehaving and disrupting the whole class, what would you do?
  4. How can schools deal with bad behavior in a way that doesn’t disrupt the misbehaving student’s learning?

Source: Headline News