Maximize Student Learning After A Weather Break: Publish a “special issue” class magazine

publish a class magazine after weather break

What do you do when you have experienced a weather-related school shutdown (like “Southern Snow Storm Leon AKA “Smowmageddon 2014”?)

Sleep late and wear your PJs all day, of course!

No- I mean when you get back to school. Do you just jump back in right where you left off? Or should you stop and spend some time processing what happened with your students? After all, if school was canceled, you probably experienced a significant and/or unusual local event. The children will have a lot of schema and story to share along with interest and excitement for writing about an event they personally experienced.

But what should you have them do? Talking about it in a morning meeting is nice, but with all that “real life” experience, you could take it a lot further.

Please do not lame out with something like this: Write a paragraph telling what you did over the snow days. So boring! My eyelids are getting heavy just thinking about it.

Let’s take that idea 5 steps further. How could you engage your students in thinking, writing, and creating in an authentic manner that will be fun and motivating?

Here’s an idea! Publish a “special issue” magazine! [Read more…]

Why You Should Publish Student Writing

Why you should Publish In the Classroom As you have probably realized, I am crazy about having kids publish books in the classroom! Why? Lots of reasons, but here are three at the top of my list. [Read more…]

Build Community with Class Books – Book #1: The Collage Book

Build Classroom Community Through Book Making

Photo Credit: Dave Rogers via Flickr, CCL 2013

As we begin the school year, building a sense of classroom community is at the top of our teacher “to do” lists. One simple way to accomplish that goal is by publishing class books. These are books BY your students and FOR your students. You’ll be amazed when you see how powerful they are in terms of increasing student motivation to read and write. They also build community quite naturally, as they are often about your students and/or are created collaboratively. There are so many fabulous ideas out there for this type of classroom publishing. For the next several posts, I’ll share a few of my own “tried and true” book-making ideas with you.

Book #1 – The “Life in Pictures” Collage Class Book

This might be the easiest publishing project you can do! Early in the school year send home a blank sheet of card stock with each student. Include a cover letter (link to free download below) explaining that each child needs to create a collage of images showcasing their likes, talents, and interests. Photos are encouraged but not required.

Students then cover the page with photos, drawings, stickers, etc. at home and bring the page back to school. (I always show them mine as an example before I send this assignment home.)

Student Collage sample

Student sample page- notice the captions! I encourage that but don’t require it.

Students are invited to share their collage pages with the class- a few per day- and the pages are then placed into clear plastic page protectors (with a little piece of clear tape closing the top.)

Once complete, this book travels home with my students so their families can get to know the other children in the class too. It becomes a VERY POPULAR item!

After visiting the students’ homes, the book is placed in our classroom library and remains a treasured title throughout the year.

 

Click on the image below for the *free* cover letter for parents via Teachers Pay Teachers.

Life In Pictures Cover Sheet My  students have done this project many times over the years and never get tired of it. In fact, my son and daughter have been engaged in similar projects throughout their school careers and love every aspect. Creating the collage is a wonderfully fun “homework” assignment but getting to check out the finished class book to bring home is just as popular. They spend ages studying each page.

There are so many ways to create class books that build a sense of community while also supporting literacy instruction. In my next post I’ll share how you can use in-class photography to create simple but effective class publications.

PS- I know I promised puppets. Don’t worry- puppet posts are in the queue! With VIDEOS!!

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