By Rylee 

Monotony is found in classrooms all too often across America. Joplin High School sophomore Pre-AP Communication Arts teachers and students were facing the same dilemma. Consequently, teachers looked towards rigor and relevance, core elements of quality teaching.  Students were assigned to write about something meaningful; something they could feel, touch, and see consistently. And something students could learn from that was close by and virtually untouched: the rich history of Southwest Missouri.

The fall of 2012, veteran communication arts teacher, Mrs. Kathleen Reiboldt and 21st Century Technology Coaches, Mr. Justin Crawford and Mrs. Rhonda Sloan started the project which is now known as Ozarkapedia. Combined, the three teachers have over forty years of traditional classroom training. “Ozarkapedia is both real-world and rigorous,” said Mrs. Rhonda Sloan. “In creating the Ozarkapedia unit, we wanted to give the students an appreciation for their Ozark’s heritage, but also give them a taste of the publishing world.”  According to Sloan, Joplin High School teachers are working to bring together all the elements of quality teaching, which include:  Rigor and Relevance, Quadrant D work and the 4C’s of 21st Century Learning, (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking.)

In a nutshell, here is the idea. Teachers wanted to bring the 19th century to the 21st century via the web and in an interdisciplinary project based lesson with authenticity. The lesson project was based off of the Foxfire Magazine. Students were instructed to research the lost arts and historical value of Southwestern Missouri and combine their findings into articles in a wiki format, much like the popular website Wikipedia. Real world skills would be the centerpiece of focus when bringing community together through a common goal of historical preservation.

The publication is run and edited by students; there are four levels of editors within the program.
The following is a brief description of the tiers of editorial staff:

  • Peer Editors– Editing within the classroom with other students of choice.
  • Classroom Editors– Selected on the basis of demonstrated writing skills and dependability. Class size determines the number of classroom editors. Classroom editors will edit no more than 4-5 articles each.
  • Peer Teachers– Instructed in writing and editing techniques, knowledgeable students will then return to the classroom and peer teach other classmates the writing and editing techniques they have learned in writer workshops.
  • Head Editors– Selected from all classes combined. There are 3-4 head editors who will have exclusive editing privileges for all papers. Head editors will go over all papers after the classroom editors have edited them. Head editors will “smooth out” any and all rough spots and pay attention to copy-written pictures to make sure all is legal. These editors will then send the “clean” articles to the Web-Master.

The following are the steps for implementation:

  • Design Thinking with classes to envision website and content.
  • Discuss/teach personal interview methods and protocol
  • Discuss/teach documentation/citation rules
  • Students will select field of research and research their chosen topic
  • Students will organize and document their findings
  • Students will share on the wiki

Skills Needed:

  • One-on-one interview skills
  • Research– primary and secondary sources
  • Reading skills: process analysis, narrative elements
  • Documentation/Citation of sources
  • Video/Audio recording plan and implementation
  • Writing– expository, narrative
  • Website creation and maintenance

For more information and questions, educators can be reached at:,, or

2 Responses to Educators

  1. Paul Chambers says:

    Congratulations to the Students and staff at Joplin High School for an outstanding student driven project. I enjoyed reading through the articles. Keep up the good work!

    • Kathleen Reiboldt says:

      Thanks for the positive comments, Paul. Students need to hear that their work is being read and is well-received I will pass along this message–just in case one of them failed to read it. Hope all is going well with you. Miss you here.

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