A WritingFix Project: Alphabet Books across the Curriculum
inviting teacher users of WritingFix to share their favorite alphabet book lesson ideas
My name is Karen McGee, and I love alphabet books. As a former primary teacher, I collected them with abandon. For about 15 years I was the co-teacher of the Writing Project's Summer Open Class (a workshop designed to teach teachers better ways to use writing in their classsrooms), first with Neil Fockler and later with Ellen Fockler, Corbett Harrison, Liesel O’Hagen, and Robin Griffin. In the early years while teaching with Neil, I suggested that we ask our participants to write their own alphabet books.
Those first books were crude at best, but we were delighted with them. We especially enjoyed having our students work in groups, selecting topics they were interested in and sharing their efforts with the larger group. They enjoyed the project because they could split the alphabet and thereby split the work, and they lost some of their self-consciousness because the group shared the final product. There was lots of laughter and some "ooo’s" and "ahhh’s." The alphabet book became an OPEN tradition.
In later years, as we kept and displayed some of the better student models, we discovered that our students began putting more effort into their finished product; many of them spent long hours after class to produce models for us that they knew would be displayed for future teacher audiences. Some of the models were so wonderful that later during the year, teachers would request that I send them the models so that they could share them with their own students. Some of the more memorable books we received but could not use with younger students because of the content were: The Alphabet Book of Beer (the four teachers bought and tasted beer using every letter of the alphabet), The ABC’s of Truckin’ (the three teachers drove to UNR from Fallon sixteen times and found a truck to represent every letter of the alphabet), An ABC Book About the Pre-professional Pitfalls of Teaching in the Classroom (the title tells all), and The ABC’s of a Typical Bachelor’s Refrigerator (written by three women.) Some of the books we loved are: The ABC Book of Multiculturalism, The ABC’s of Conversation, Excuses A-Z, Aletteration: An Alphabet Book, Alpha Bemania Crazies, Random Acts of Kindness Through the ABC’s, The ABC Yellow Pages of Reno Restaurants (pictured at right), The ABC Book of T-Shirts, Alphabet Exstravaganza (an alphabet book of alphabet books), All New Awesome Bi-lingual Cool Better-than-ever Book For Kids, An Artist’s Alphabet (see Sandra Young’s Art & Writing Project Page because she was one of the authors of this book), The ABC’s of Dogs. One of the books, which I no longer have but which became amazing teaching tool for the teachers who made it was The Alphabet Book of the Donner Party.
This online project at WritingFix is my attempt to share some of those alphabet lessons with you. Below we are providing some model lessons to inspire you to share your own. Our hope is that this page will become a place where teacher-users of WritingFix can "give back" to our site by providing alphabet book lessons and samples from your classrooms.
to share a write-up for one of your classroom's alphabet book projects!
to share a digital photo of one of your student's alphabet book pages!
If we select your lesson to post on this page at WritingFix, we will send you two complimentary copies of NNWP Print Guides.