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Students learn they’re one in the same

English teacher Madelyn Johnson brings ‘Humans of New York’ into classroom

The+first+floor+E+wing+showcases+students%27+projects+made+in+English+teacher+Madelyn+Johnson%27s+classroom.
The first floor E wing showcases students' projects made in English teacher Madelyn Johnson's classroom.

The first floor E wing showcases students' projects made in English teacher Madelyn Johnson's classroom.

Photo by Madison Ward

Photo by Madison Ward

The first floor E wing showcases students' projects made in English teacher Madelyn Johnson's classroom.

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After being a fan of the blog “Humans of New York,” a collection of stories from individuals found on the streets in New York City, English teacher Madelyn Johnson was inspired by 2018 alumna Marissa Alvarez to bring the project into her classroom, creating an unforgettable experience for her students.

“Last year one of my students, for her Genius Hour project, created the Instagram Humans of Lewisville,” Johnson said. “She was featured on the front page of Lewisville Leader and her project got a whole bunch of attention. Mostly because people not only loved being featured in a story, but reading other people’s stories. So it was actually a student that inspired me to use ‘Humans of New York’ and Humans of Lewisville in my classroom.”

Johnson used the blog, “Humans of New York,” as an example to teach her students how to imitate the author’s writing style.

“We focused a lot on grammar and mechanics and having to transcribe audio; [students had to] figure out where punctuation went in the audio or how to incorporate slang in a way that would still be readable and as close as grammatically correct,” Johnson said.

The project consisted of two students being paired together to interview each other in order to recreate their own versions of “Humans of New York.” Students were shocked by the responses they received from their peers.

“[My partner] was in a relationship for three years and that was crazy to me because she doesn’t seem like the type,” senior Cynthia Bonilla said.

Johnson decided to frame the projects after they were finished and placed them in the hallway so her students would feel accomplished with their work.

“[The students] edit it and work with it for multiple days,” Johnson said. “[It’s] not just one quick little one-day assignment. And I really wanted them to feel proud of their work when they saw everyone getting excited over their work.”

After they were placed in the hall, it grabbed the attention of other students even some who weren’t in Johnson’s class.

“I felt it was a success when I walked in and saw multiple people from another class reading them, taking pictures of them, snapchatting them [and] grabbing their friends and showing them,” Johnson said.

With the success of the project, students realized they have more in common and were able to foster relationships with peers they didn’t know.

“Not all of us are too different from each other and we’ve all come from different places and different states,” senior Destiny Gonzalez said. “We’re all the same.”

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Students learn they’re one in the same