Like any group of teachers, we spend a lot of time talking.

Our journalists and the staff at the Pulitzer Center talk about the true costs of resource extraction, we explain the persistent challenges in holding governments and corporations accountable worldwide, and we expound on the under-told impact of global climate change.

Blah, blah, blah.

These discussions, which took place more than 220 times this year in 157 middle and high schools across the US and in Europe, are not bad things. In fact, they’re immensely helpful in giving students a vivid snapshot of a sometimes amorphous issue. There’s nothing like hearing a story about an entrepreneur in Bangladesh who has started a fleet of floating classrooms to help an American child get her head around the ground truth of a warming planet.

But as a journalism teacher who worked with my students on web, video and print projects, I saw time and again how kids are most engaged and most thoughtful when they are producing their own work. That’s especially true when that work has relevance outside the classroom.

So in that spirit I’d like to point out some great opportunities for middle and high schoolers to show us what they can do.

NewsAction.org, a website of global reporting with student journalists from around the world contributing news on global issues from their communities, is sponsoring a media contest along with the Pulitzer Center. Tell a great story relating to gender, health or education. Deadline: February 22.
http://newsaction.org/contest/

The Trans-Border Institute at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies based at the University of San Diego is inviting high school photographers to share images that promote a fuller and more nuanced awareness of borders. Join us in examining how borders affect our lives. Deadline: February 15.
http://www.sandiego.edu/peacestudies/tbi/photo_contest/

Last, I’d like to invite students to share stories and ask questions of Paul Salopek, whose seven-year “Out of Eden” walk around the world will begin in just a few weeks. Paul will be walking on foot through the major stories of our day, reporting on them in long-form articles for National Geographic. But he’s equally excited about interacting with students along the way. We think his project has the potential to inspire great student work, like mapping projects undertaken by these sixth graders at Washington International School. Join the conversation on Twitter at #EdenWalk or Storify.

Happy holidays!

- Mark Schulte, education director