My Students are going to be Published Authors!

I can’t believe it has been 22 days since my last blog post. I am an awful blogger. But I have a really good excuse…

Nearly 75 first graders are getting their non-fiction books published!! Each student did a research project on a mammal and wrote a 14 page book – complete with nonfiction text features such as a Table of Contents, Glossary, Index, and a diagram. I had no choice but to type them because their handwriting wasn’t quite as good as I had expected. Needless to say, I have been a little busy.

So are you interested in doing a project like this? Here’s how I did it (with a few tips of how I’ll do it next time).

Interested? Check out Student Treasures. While we haven’t seen the final product yet, their customer service thus far has surpassed my expectations. They provided me EVERYTHING I needed. Storyboards, ideas, the paper, the kits, the letters to parents, they paid for shipping BOTH WAYS, they even sent me reminders and sample e-mails. 

Not only did all of my 1st graders get a book published, but many of our other classed did a “classbook”. This is where the entire class works together to make 1 big book (each student has 1 page of text and 1 illustration). We had 9 classes do this. They were equally as awesome.

I began this project with my first graders long before I discovered the opportunity to have our books published. This actually hurt me in the end. The company did have some guidelines, and had I known this ahead of time, I would have done things a lot differently.

In a nutshell, here is the process we did. I have a 30 minute class, once a cycle (6 days). About 7 minutes is reserved for book checkout. The teachers worked with me and if I needed extra time, they were incredibly flexible.

Lesson #1: Introduce non-fiction text features (Scholastic has this really great oversized book)

Lesson #2: Students were assigned animals and students did a modified KWL chart (we just did the K and L since I was picking what they needed to find). This was very funny – I had a lot of kids put “shark” as the enemy.

Lesson #3: Students used Pebble Go to identify the habitat. The students could just take notes on this sheet, but they were required to give credit (we’ve discussed this previously).

Lesson #4: Students used the Animal Kindom series by Julie Murray to find some interesting facts. We also made sure to give credit

Lesson #5: Students used Pebble Go to determine the diet of their animal. 

Lesson #6: I modified the “Print and Label” worksheets from Pebble Go and the students labeled a diagram of their animal.

Lesson #7: As a class, we created an index and a table of contents (since I typed the kids work, I made sure that all of their information was organized in the same way). This allowed us all to have the same Table of Contents and the same Index.

Lesson #8: The pictures. This was sort of a disaster. The company suggests using washable, water-based markers (aka. the crayola ones). Well, boy did the lefties have some trouble. Since the illustrations go directly on the pages of the book, we had a lot of smears and streaks. They’ll love it just the same. Hopefully it doesn’t show up on the reprints.

The students did their covers in art class and OMG they are AMAZING!! They actually did these for the art show and then the art teacher did me a huge favor and scanned them and emailed them to me so I could print them.

(p.s. red on top of elephants is sunburn, not blood…I asked)

Lesson #9: The final thing we did was go back to our K-L chart and fill in the right hand column. Since this project was a Super 3 research project, we also did the “Review” step using this worksheet.

I can’t wait to post again in a few weeks with pictures of the final product. I absolutely can’t wait to see the reaction on the kids faces. They are so pumped. 

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