History, Dutch and Art subjects all in one magazine. Second year high school students at the Liberal-Christian Lyceum High school in the Hague, Netherlands, combined three subjects into one project. They created a magazine called ‘The Golden Age Project’. Their history teacher, Mirjam Zeilmaker, coordinated the project.
Combining Subjects reduces Workload for Students
Mirjam enlisted the help of her colleagues for this project, and she explains why: “This project enables students to hand in one magazine containing all the required works for History, Dutch and Art. We grade the magazine for all three subjects. The reason we chose to do it this way is because it saves the students a lot of time. They’re already swamped by so many exams over the course of the year, and this magazine project removes a great deal of the workload. Plus, it’s a nice change from the way things are usually done.”
Creating a magazine is a large project with a lot of small moving parts. To a 13 or 14 year old, the scale of this project may seem daunting, but Mirjam knew how to handle it: “You explain to students that we’re going to do it step-by-step and over the course of a few weeks, so we have time. As long as you keep up with the schedule and update your own schedule accordingly, it will all sort itself out. The result is your own Golden Age Magazine.”
Create and Use a Step-by-step Guide Book
The students created the magazine over the course of 6 weeks. Mirjam created a step-by-step guide book containing all the information the students would need to complete their magazine. So not only are the students completing exercises pertaining to each subject, they are also learning how to plan accordingly.
The Guide Book contains:
- History, Dutch, and Art exercises
- Schedule with weekly tasks
- Timetable example
- Instructions on how to use Jilster
Mirjam also added a guide with step-by-step instructions on how to use Jilster. She tried the editor out herself first: “Doing this allowed me to write out clear instructions on what to do and what not to do for my students. I tried to get their creative juices flowing by showing them a few example pages I had made myself, and telling them to check out some magazines at home, in stores, and to bring magazines into class.”
The Project in Action
The magazine was graded on content for History, spelling and grammar for Dutch, and design and creativity for Art.
For Dutch class, the students had to read a book from a book list and write a book report. They also wrote a letter, consisting of at least 300 words, to the book publisher. Students were allowed to read the chosen book during the first ten minutes of every History and Dutch class leading up to the assignment deadline.
Dutch class magazine project assignments
- Book report
- Letter to publisher
For History they created a project that combined historical events with people in present day Netherlands. Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter was a Dutch admiral. He was one of the most skilled admirals in history, most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. His descendant Frits de Ruyter, currently lives in The Hague, so the school simply got him to visit for a day. He gave the students a presentation about his forefather and his family history.
A few of the students were tasked with organizing this event themselves. A few other History assignments included seeing a historical movie, visiting a museum, writing a review about both, and adding a recipe for a dish from the Golden Age.
History class magazine project assignments
- Organizing an event with a speaker that can give a presentation on historical events
- Attending a presentation on a famous historical figure
- See and review a historical movie
- Visit and review a museum
- Look up historical dishes and add a recipe
A magazine project wouldn’t be complete without creativity and design elements. The students got to work on the magazine cover during Art class. Another assignment for Art was to recreate a historical painting using themselves, classmates, family and/or friends.
Art class magazine project assignments
- Create a magazine cover
- Recreate a historical painting or photo
What are students saying?
When asked about the project, students Juliette and Liam excitedly tell us about their experiences. “We mostly use books at school, not computers. This magazine project has allowed us to use computers as well. It has taught us so much more than the books by themselves, like working with different computer files, for example.”
Juliette has especially enjoyed using the templates. “The templates are really helpful. Using these in your magazine gives you a good base to start with. Templates make it easy to create a recurring theme too. I also really liked that we were able to work on the magazine at home. Jilster was fun to work with, not like regular homework.”
Finding their way on a Computer instead of their Phones
Jilster allows you to experiment with different elements on a page. You can decide right away to keep what you’ve created or edit it. If you don’t like the way something looks you can easily try something different. Mirjam witnessed this happening first hand when her students started working on their magazines. “The search was on to find the right file types, images, and backgrounds to get the ‘look’ they wanted in their own magazines. At times it seemed like a text box would disappear under some layers. This was frustrating, but having to manage all the elements on a page was good practice for the students.
“They don’t have much experience working with computers. They’re more at home on their smartphones. They’re so used to things coming to them easily, that having to figure things out themselves is a good challenge.”
What’s next for the magazine project
Next year they’ll be making a magazine again. “After the students completed their assignments for the three subjects, they added them to their magazine. The complete package was downloaded as a PDF file. This PDF file is what they handed in. Or they handed in a printed version of their magazine. We weren’t able to order all the magazines in print. Next year however, we want to have the three best magazines printed.”
“We’ve noticed that having a competitive element in the project improves their performance. Plus, the printed magazines are a great promotional tool for open day events, when prospective students visit our school. Also, they serve as good examples for future students that are going to work on their own project. A printed magazine gives them a good idea of what to expect for their own magazine.”
“End of year projects would be great to see in magazine format as well. Especially for students that want to do their end of year projects on fashion.”
Some tips before you get started
“Education is a breeding ground for wonderful new ideas. We want to share these ideas as much as possible so that other teachers can be made aware of the magazine project.”
- Take your time with this project. It will take longer than you think.
- Arrange a meeting for your colleagues wherein you explain how Jilster works
- Create a guide book for students, with a guide on how to use Jilster
- When it’s time to grade the paper, you can do so using the custom link to the online version of the magazine
- A magazine project can also be used for other subjects and topics