Quick Tip Tuesday: Publishing ideas

Wondering what your students should do with their best writing? Jennifer Jacobson, author of No More “I’m Done!” has a couple of great ideas for classroom publishing that don’t take up a lot of time, but make students proud and motivated to write!

Believe it or not, there was a time when primary schools established central “publishing houses.” Students who had done an exceptionally fine job on a piece would be greeted by parent volunteers who typed up the stories and then carefully bound them into books. The books often had sturdy cardboard covers decorated with wallpaper samples, and pages carefully sewn with durable dental floss. The proud students would return to the classroom where they illustrated their books, which were later celebrated. Many books would find their way into the school library for the remainder of the year.

Very few schools still offer this model of publishing. Somewhere along the line, “publishing” came to mean “copying over your work without any mistakes.” All students publish at the same time, removing the motivation to publish one’s finest writing. Instead, students publish nearly identical teacher-directed products.

Here, I am going to suggest a publishing program that falls somewhere in the middle of these two models. Consider setting up an area in your room where you (or better yet, a parent or high school volunteer) can work with individual students. The volunteer sits at the computer, and the child sits next to the volunteer and reads his or her work. Volunteers (who you have trained) type the work using all of the proper conventions: punctuation, spelling, capitalization, proper grammar—keeping the child’s original language whenever possible. If while reading, the student says, “Oh, I should have said . . .” The volunteer types what the child wished he or she had written, thus reinforcing revision right up to the end.

What do you do with the typed work? Here is a list of ideas:
1. Place in a class anthology (The “Big Book”; see page 23)
2. Mount on a bulletin board
3. Read over the intercom
4. Include in school or class newsletters
5. Post on a Web site
6. Have child read in a podcast
7. Record (audio or video) a class radio show
8. Perform as a skit
9. Read at an authors’ tea
10. Compile a class book around a single theme (poems, funny
stories, holiday stories, etc.)
11. Include in a class yearbook
12. Include in the school literary magazine
13. Submit to a student market or contest
14. Give as a gift

I do not recommend that primary students copy over their work. If we regularly ask student to rewrite, we are teaching them two things: write short and don’t take risks. We also take away one of our best motivating tools. Being able to say something reinforcing such as, “Kara! You added so many quality details to this writing. Would you like to publish it?” goes a long way in motivating our students to be thoughtful, independent writers.

Add comment August 10th, 2010

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