This Spring, 31 educators from K-12 schools across the United States joined the Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship—working with each other, the Pulitzer Center education team, Center-supported journalists, and their students to engage curiously, critically, and empathetically with the world through underreported global news stories. The sixteen Fellows in the Stories of Migration: Going Beyond the Headlines cohort introduced underreported stories to over 875 students in thirteen states. Fellows developed original units that guided students in exploring and making local connections to underreported stories about migration through research, writing, visual arts, interviews, and more.
Join us in celebrating these educators—and keep reading to explore their units, reflections, and how they spent their time with us throughout the Fellowship!
Fellowship Orientation and Professional Development Workshops:
On Saturday, March 6, 2021, all 31 Teacher Fellows completed an orientation with Pulitzer Center’s associate director of education Fareed Mostoufi, education manager Hannah Berk, and education coordinator Jaya Mukherjee. Mostoufi and Berk guided the Stories of Migration cohort for teachers based across the U.S., while Mukherjee supported the Journalism and Justice cohort for teachers based in Chicago.
During the first part of their orientation, Fellows heard from the Center’s executive editor, Marina Walker Guevara. Later in the day, fall 2020 Teacher Fellows Cortnie Belser and Vincent Pham shared the Fellowship’s impact on their professional development and on their students, introduced the units they created and implemented in the fall, and answered questions about how to make the most of the Fellowship experience. For the remainder of the orientation, teachers explored how to bring underreported stories into the classroom, and developed personal goals for the Fellowship.
“As an educator, I have made it my mission to instill a sense of passion and understanding for history into my students. In order for students to be successful in the discipline of history and in today’s world, I must help them develop their ability to think critically through the study of past events, and to seek the application of such critical thinking of the past into their daily lives,” wrote Adam Guerrero, a high school Social Studies teacher in Crowley, TX
"I want to learn to collaborate with colleagues on producing a unit that addresses global migration’s impact on youth empowerment in and out of the classroom. I want to teach them the power of journalistic inquiry and how it serves as a powerful tool for social justice (speaking truth to power),” wrote Ruth-Terry Walden, a high school teacher in Stamford, CT
“I want students to dig deeper into topics that are of interest to them and be curious as well as ask questions, as that is what eventually leads to positive social change,” wrote Tania Mohammed, a high school English Language Arts teacher in New York.
The Teacher Fellows participated in six workshops to engage with journalists, discuss underreported stories, media literacy activities, brainstorm ideas for their units, and receive feedback from one another and members of the Center’s education team:
Workshop 1: Exploring why people move and how the stories of individuals illuminate larger underreported issues with Mridula Amin.
Workshop 2: Reflecting on the political construction and historical transience of borders, and on how journalism illuminates and interprets history, with Tomas van Houtryve.
Workshop 4: Connecting with one another for peer feedback on unit drafts.
Workshop 5: Exploring personal narratives about the migration experience with Zahra Ahmad,
Workshop 6: Final peer review workshop of unit plans and celebrating the Fellowship community.
The workshops not only provided Fellows with the opportunity to hear from journalists whose reporting they could share with students, but also provided a space for educators to connect with and support one another as they navigated teaching during a pandemic. In addition to the formal workshops, Fellows met with the Center’s education team for check-ins to discuss progress on their units and for support with identifying reporting and resources for their units. Several Fellows chose to host a virtual journalist visit for their students; one teacher was even able to invite the subject of a news story his students explored in their unit to speak alongside the journalist.
Fellows' Units and Student Work:
Units created by the Stories of Migration cohort represented content for a variety of age groups and disciplines. Units culminated in creative assessments, including persuasive letters to a representative of students’ choice: persona poems highlighting underreported stories; illustrated migration story puzzles; comic strips detailing the experiences of youth migrants; feature articles on personal or family migration stories; imagined social media profiles capturing individuals’ migration experiences; and Google Earth stories charting the journeys of young migrants.
All units featured journalism on pressing underreported stories of migration, challenged students to consider whose voices are heard or overlooked in the media, and gave classes the opportunity to process new information in innovative ways. Teacher Fellows and their students connected with underreported global news stories and the journalists who cover them, fostering curious, critical, and compassionate engagement with the world.
All units include examples of student work and downloadable PDFs that contain lesson plans, teaching materials, and evaluation rubrics. For a few examples of student work from Fellows' units, scroll below!
Fellowship Closing and Reflections:
The Stories of Migration cohort concluded their Fellowship with a virtual celebration. Each cohort had a chance to share their units, reflect upon what they learned, and leave feedback and advice for the education team and future cohorts.
Explore teachers' reflections on the Fellowship experience below:
"The Fellowship reinforced the importance of content-specific professional development for teachers, the power of building and participating in collaborative teacher spaces (across schools), as well as the importance of empathy and modeling vulnerability as a pedagogical practice,” wrote Keith Calix, a high school teacher in Washington, D.C.
“I learned the importance of exposing my students to underreported stories and to dive deeper into current events, as these are the topics that are relevant to the student's lives. I loved how we were exposed to journalists and teachers with diverse backgrounds, as it created a richer learning experience. I also loved the opportunity to receive direct feedback about my unit, as it's often hard to bounce ideas off of someone else when creating curriculum. I had such a wonderful experience and loved how this Fellowship forced me to try different methods of teaching and engaging my students. Thank you!,” wrote Tania Mohammed, a high school English Language Arts teacher in New York.
“I became more aware of the need to bring in critical discussions about journalism (the process, the product, the wording, etc.) into my classes. I use a lot of journalism in my classes but we don't usually do this kind of thing in conjunction with a discussion of the journalistic process itself. I enjoyed the visits from journalists and hearing about their approaches and experiences doing journalism. I became even more convinced that journalism is an important part of activism,” wrote Dr. Ingrid Fey, a high school teacher in Los Angeles.
"Preparing the unit was a tremendous professional development experience for me. It provided needed growth in this particular area of my practice, so thank you for requiring it. Don't minimize this aspect of the requirement for teachers regardless of their teaching experience: All of my colleagues said the same thing. We needed this!,” wrote Ruth-Terry Walden, a 12th-grade teacher in Connecticut.
For a more in-depth look at the Journalism and Justice in Chicago cohort, click here!
Interested in becoming a Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellow? Apply to our Teacher Fellowship! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.