Behind The Scenes: How A Fourth-Grade Class Reported Our Story : NPR Ed For our profile of Marlem Diaz-Brown, we asked her students to do the reporting. Here's how we got an exclusive look inside their classroom.
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Behind The Scenes: How A Fourth-Grade Class Reported Our Story

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Behind The Scenes: How A Fourth-Grade Class Reported Our Story

Behind The Scenes: How A Fourth-Grade Class Reported Our Story

So we're about halfway through our 50 Great Teachers project, and we've been looking for ways of shaking it up. We've done photo essays, web comics and videos.

These endeavors brought us to our latest idea: Instead of us reporting the story, let's let the kids do it.

Once we found a great teacher — Mrs. Marlem Diaz-Brown in Miami — we had to be sure she was willing to let us take over her fourth-grade class. And she was.

Photo by Sofia Iovine
Mrs. Diaz-Brown's students gave us an exclusive look inside their classroom in Miami.
Photo by Sofia Iovine

Step 1: Mrs. D-B (as her students affectionately call her) assigned each kid to become a journalist for a day. The task: To write a one-page article about their teacher. Here's what Mrs. D-B handed out:

Mrs. Diaz-Brown's Assignment

Writing Prompt

Pretend you are a journalist writing a story for an educational newspaper/magazine. Write a story that explains to your readers why, in your opinion, your teacher is one of the "Best Fifty Teachers" in the country. Provide your readers with specific details as to how she motivates you, what classroom activities do you like best, and what has been your most memorable learning experience so far this year.

Don't forget to:

  • Plan your response;
  • Write your response; and
  • Revise and edit your response

Be sure to include:

  • An introduction
  • Support with evidence and elaboration your opinion using information from first sources
  • A conclusion that is related to your opinion

All 26 students turned in their essays to us — and they were awesome! We used their words to help narrate and shape our story. They wrote about all the activities they liked, the things Mrs. D-B did in the classroom that piqued their interest, and how she was different than other teachers they'd had in the past.

Felipe's essay

Step 2: Producer Sami Yenigun and I listened in as a group of students interviewed Mrs. D-B. They asked great questions: Why did you become a teacher? What have you learned from all your years of teaching? Did you always like to read?What is your favorite book? Why is kindness your favorite emotion?

So Many Kid Questions

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You can listen to Mrs. D-B's answers in our story here.

NPR Ed gave cameras to students in Mrs. D-B's fourth-grade class. Elissa Nadworny/NPR hide caption

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Elissa Nadworny/NPR

NPR Ed gave cameras to students in Mrs. D-B's fourth-grade class.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Step 3: We gave each student a disposable camera. I taught a short lesson about how to use them and what to look for (details, classroom activities and other students).

We got the film developed back in D.C. and the images did not disappoint. They showed the classroom from a perspective we rarely get to see — from the seats of students.

Photo by Francesca Bello
Photo by Francesca Bello
Photo by Francesca Bello
Photo by Eduardo Gross
Photo by Eduardo Gross
Photo by Eduardo Gross
Photo by Francesca Bello
Photo by Francesca Bello
Photo by Francesca Bello

There's something really wonderful, fun and honest about the photos — it makes us wish we were back in fourth grade. You can see more of their photos here.

And of course — the students captured us capturing them.

Photo by Patricia Quimby-Moro
Photo by Patricia Quimby-Moro.
Photo by Patricia Quimby-Moro

Here's the final story:

Behind The Scenes: How A Fourth-Grade Class Reported Our Story

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