In just over a week, my students and I will begin venturing into the crazy, unpredictable world of zine making. If you’ve followed my blog for the last year or so, then you know I use zines to foster creative discourse and collaboration in my ELA classroom. You can check out last year’s zinecast here. If you’re unfamiliar with zines, I typically define them as alternative, DIY (do it yourself), photocopied or digitally crafted magazines that historically provide alternative information to the public that traditional news or magazine sources do not and is provided to the public through free distribution done by the creators of the zine. The goal in generating zines with my students is to give them some autonomy and redefine power structures in the classroom. Ultimately, I like to see students take charge of the class and develop literacy that is meaningful and impactful to them.
I try to make this happen in a few different ways. One, students choose the organization of themselves in conjunction with creating their zine. They make the decision to have editors, or if the zine will be thematic or not. Two, I give up one of my five days during the week to give them control of developing their zine; we negotiate what day it will be and how they want the day to be structured. Three, they choose the audience for the zine and its format. Digital? Physical? Students? Parents? Community-at-Large? Other? Four, I take my hands off the steering wheel after the first few weeks; while I certainly help them negotiate doing something so odd and different from what they’re used to, I try to become an observer/facilitator rather than a direct instructor those days. Five (and this is the ‘kicker’), no grade is involved in any form during the zine creation/distribution phase.
Not all students will gravitate towards this freedom. It will make some students uncomfortable and maybe even a little resentful for there being no grade (or normalized reward) for their efforts. My hope is they see literacy as an action and not a passive event that happens to them. While I will eventually study these events for my dissertation, this year it is just about having fun, getting engaged with literacy, and taking ownership of their learning.
All that being said, I hope you’ll join me on the adventure. I’ll post weekly updates once we get started that will show off student artifacts as well as my reflections and occasional reflections from students (using their permission and pseudonyms of course). FYI, I’m using the hashtag #zineculture for our adventure.
This should be fun. Cheers!