Publishing Student Writing: Do More Than Hang It on the Refrigerator
By Jill Jenkins
Students often grimace and sneer, “Yuk!” when confronted with a writing assignment. To alleviate this response, students need to be given a writing experience that is positive and rewarding. Four letter grades a year are not enough to motivate most students. Most people like recognition for a job well done. I learned this from an alternative education student who by ninth grade had a school record three inches thick. If there was a rule, he had broken it repeatedly. What he wanted to succeed in my class was a letter grade on each assignment and to be able to display his papers on the bulletin board in the school’s main office for everyone to see. What he wanted was recognition for a job well done. He wasn’t all that different from all of us. We all want to see our work hanging on the virtual refrigerator door enhanced with golden star or a smiley face. How do provide positive feedback to our students?
One way to provide students with recognition for writing is to have each student create a book to publish his/ her work in. With a couple of pieces of cardboard, several pieces of 11X17 inch paper, a piece of colored paper, a roll of Duck-Tape, a roll of dental floss, a few scraps of wrapping paper, an awl and a darning needle, your student can create a nifty little book to store his poems, essays and art work. He/she will have a creation to be proud of for years to come.
My Little Book
Things That You Need
- Seven papers
- One piece of Construction Paper
- Two pieces of poster board
- Three feet of dental floss
- Wrapping paper
- Glue stick
- Color pencils and/or markers
- Stack seven pieces of white printing paper together and on the back of them place one piece of construction paper.
- Fold them Hamburger.
- With your awl pierce four holes on the fold line.
- Thread your needle with three feet of dental floss.
- Begin sewing through one of the two inside-holes, then go the outside hole closest to it and back through the hole you began with.
- Sew through the second inside hole, go through that hole and through the outside hole near it, and back through the center hole again.
- Finally run the thread through the hole you started with and tie the string.
- Cut off any excess thread.
- Glue wrapping paper to the two pieces of cardboard.
- Glue the outside of the construction paper to the inside of the two pieces of cardboard to form a book.
- Use a piece of duct tape to form the back binding of the book, tucking the ends inside the book.
Directions for making this book are found in Books for Kids to Make: Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist and Turn by Gwen Diehn.
This is a wonderful book with foldout book, pop-up books and a variety of creative fun projects for students to make writing more meaningful.
Another simple book is found on http://readwritethink.org , it’s called The Stapleless Book or Foldables . The basic directions are:
1. Give each student a piece of butcher paper about 3 feet by 2 feet.
2. Ask each student to fold his/her paper in half vertically. (That’s hotdog for those of us who teach lower grades or Landscape for those who teach in the upper grades.)
3. Ask each student to fold his/her paper in half vertically again. (That’s hotdog for those of us who teach lower grades or Landscape for those who teach in the upper grades.)
4. Ask each student to hold his/her paper horizontally. (That’s hamburger for those of us who teach lower grades and Portrait for those who teacher upper grades.)
5. Open up the Hamburger fold and fold it in half.
6. Beginning on the fold, cut along the center fold toward the outside edge, but stop when you reach the crease.
7. Open the book like a large mouth and pulling the open refold the book.
8. Click on this Link to see a directions with visuals: http://www.vickiblackwell.com/makingbooks/poofbook.htm
I find having students create their own anthology of poetry or essays that they can share with their friends and family makes writing more meaningful.
The Electronic Literary Magazine
A third method is to create an electronic Literary Magazine. The National Writing Gallery provides a place for teachers to create your own literary magazine. You need to be a member of NCTE to do this, but it provides every student in your class an opportunity to be a published writer. When I first set mine up, I considered only publishing a few students’ best work. I have to admit that I was a product of my past where students submitted work and hoped that they might be selected among the elite who had a published poem in the school’s literary magazine, but after discussing this with other teachers, we decided the best route was to allow each student an opportunity to select his/her best work to be published. This gives every student a sense of pride and will make better writers and a more enjoyable experience.
There are a variety of other on-line electronic sites for publishing student work. Including:
· Flipsnap: Is on on-line application that allows you to turn pictures into books.
· Wordfaire: Is a free on-line blogging site
· Blogger.com: Is another free on-line blogging site.
· ePubBud: is an on-line site that allows students to create e-books
· Storybird: is on-line site that allows students to create story books out of text.
Slide Shows and Videos
If you are interested in having students create digital story books, there are a variety of free slide show and video programs that you might consider:
- Inanimate Alice
- Slide Share
- Goggle Presentation
A fourth method is to encourage students to send their writing to contests. Participating in a contest improves students’ ability to win scholarships to further their education. Wining contests improves students’ self-confidence and self-esteem. Although some contests are challenging to win, others are primarily concerned with publishing students’ work in anthologies that they sell to the parents. This is not a huge economic problem for most middle class families; however, if you are teaching economically challenged students, don’t disregard these contests. If you have enough students submit entries, they will the teacher a free copy of the anthology. Simply donate that book to the school’s library so the students can show their masterpieces to their friends and parents when they visit the school. I have compiled a list of some contests that you might consider. If the contest is primarily concerned with selling anthologies to students’ parents, I have placed an asterisk next to it:
There are endless opportunities for students to write and perhaps learn something about a culture, a social problem or just express themselves.
Empowering students by giving them opportunities to shine will improve their writing and instill in them a love for writing. Publishing work will empower struggling students to achieve more because they will find writing more interesting. When students find writing fun and exciting, they will write more. Like all skills, the more they practice, the better they get. Everyone loves gold stars. Give your students opportunities to earn them. We all need to see our work hanging on a virtual refrigerator,