Remembering what you didn’t know when you didn’t know it

The students this semester have more questions than usual.

“When does the paper run the name of someone under the age of 18?”
“When do we put a dateline on a story?”
“Why don’t all the AP stories include a reporter’s byline?”
“Is the news I’m reading at AOL real news or is it fake news?”

They’ve only written one news story.

It’s great when students are confident enough to ask questions – and ask questions worth asking. But students don’t always know what to ask – or may be too timid to ask.

So, one of the important qualities for you as a teacher is remembering what you didn’t know when you didn’t know it.

You may have written dozens of news stories by the time you teach news writing or have been teaching news writing for several years. Writing a news story just seems to happen for you at this point. No struggling about which of the 5Ws and H to put in the lead. No wondering how often to put the attribution in a story.

But think back.

When you were first writing news stories (or whatever learning skill), what did you have to learn? What was unclear? What were your steps in learning?

We’ll never anticipate all the questions the students will ask. And we don’t want a teaching experience without student questions.

But we can help make learning more effective for the students if we think about what we needed to learn and how that happened for us. We can then structure our presentations and activities to promote that from-the-beginning learning experience. 

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