For the last three months, students from Chapman’s Integrated Educational Studies (IES) program have been visiting Yorba Academy of the Arts Middle School to teach journalistic writing.

Yorba Writing Project after school session

Yorba Writing Project after school session

Dr. Noah Golden’s IES 412 course “Teaching Writing K-12” has partnered with Yorba for the past three years, giving IES students hands-on experience practicing the different teaching methodologies they learn about in class. Yorba students research topics they are passionate about and receive individualized support from Chapman mentors throughout the entire writing process.

“The Yorba-Chapman Writing Partnership gives Chapman future teachers the chance to engage deeply with students in the Orange community,” Golden said. “It allows us to bridge methodology with method and learn more about how educators can be responsive to the strengths and needs of young adolescent scholars.”

The focus for this year’s partnership was critical media literacy, and Yorba students were encouraged to choose topics that explored how certain issues were represented in the media. The students chose topics such as global warming, gender wage gap, gun violence, and body image.

After brainstorming, the Yorba students learned more about the different genres of journalistic writing. The Chapman mentors used model texts to highlight the conventions and social purposes of editorial, feature, and front-page news writing. To create engaging learning environments, the mentors sought to promote critical thinking about important social issues.

Throughout the different stages of writing, Chapman mentors were challenged to connect theory with practice and experiment with different teaching strategies they’d learned in the IES 412 course. For example, Chapman mentors implemented different grammar instruction, peer-review, and feedback techniques that reflected current findings in educational research. They were required to complete at least 12 hours of fieldwork and reflect on what they observed and experienced after each day in the classroom.

Yorba Writing Project morning session

Yorba Writing Project morning session

After the Yorba students finished writing their articles, they were given the opportunity to create critical media projects. These projects ranged from stop motion films and animations to digital illustrations and memes. The goal was for the students to question how their topic was being shown in media and respond by creating their own form of media, perhaps highlighting a perspective people typically do not see.

This year, six Yorba students participated in a morning session. Nicholas Sepulveda, a 7th and 8th grade science and robotics teacher at Yorba who offered his classroom and supervised the project, enjoyed seeing his students grow during the project.

“This program has given the Yorba students strengths that they will take forward into high school and college,” Sepulveda said. “These students have become more willing to attempt and complete optional work within my class, where before they would not have.”

Andrea Lopez and Kori Shelton, English and journalism teachers at Yorba, supervised an after-school session, which served another 20 Yorba students. These teachers also witnessed growth among Yorba students.

“I really feel that this experience has opened up some of these kids,” Shelton explained. “Students who weren’t talking before are now talking, laughing, and sharing their work. It’s been really neat to see that transformation. It reminds me why I became a teacher.”

Sandra Loredo and I have served for two years as Writing Project Coordinators for this partnership, primarily providing curriculum, resources, and guidance for the Chapman mentors and Yorba students. At the end of the project, we create an anthology of the Yorba students’ work and plan a Publishing Party event where the anthology is distributed.

Yorba field trip to Chapman

Yorba field trip to Chapman

On April 18, the Yorba students also got the chance to visit Chapman’s campus and The Panther newsroom. They met and spoke with the The Panther’s editor in chief, Jamie Altman, and asked questions about how Chapman’s own journalism program works. Then, IES students led the students on an informal tour around campus. They visited sites that pertained to the Yorba students’ academic and extracurricular interests, while the IES students shared stories highlighting their positive experiences in college.

The Yorba students will return to Chapman on Thursday, April 26 for their Publishing Party to celebrate their accomplishments and the dedication of the Chapman mentors.

The program is made possible by the generous support of the Lloyd E. and Elisabeth H. Klein Family Foundation and Christine and Lon Cross.


Talia Cain ’19 is a Chapman undergraduate majoring in IES and English Literature. She founded the Chapman organization Student Alliance for Prison Reform and is passionate about issues relating to educational equity and social justice. She has presented research at the National and Western Regional Honors Conference and is currently exploring how school disciplinary procedures impact students differently by race, class, and gender. After Chapman, she plans to attend graduate school and continue researching ways classrooms can disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Ultimately, she would like to pursue a career in teaching high school English.