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We celebrate teachers who have created their own websites about teaching writing:


Corbett's
Always Write
Website
(Grades K-12)



Jodie's
Start to Learn
Website

(Kindergarten)



Holly's
Making Mathematicians
Website

(Grades K-12)



Brian's
Learning is Messy
Blog

(Grades 4-6)



Dena's
Write in the Middle
Website

(Grades 6-8)

Process Writing: Make Publishing Feel Authentic
inspiring the best writing from our students with creative publishing techniques

When a student takes a piece of writing through the entire writing process, and the teacher is the only person who sees the finished product, the writing task doesn't feel very authentic. How can it?

This developing page at WritingFix has a simple purpose: to encourage teachers to find more authentic ways to help students feel published.

Retired NNWP Consultant and friend of WritingFix, Joe Elcano, loves to tell the story of his son writing an strongly-opinionated essay about Barry Bonds taking the national home run record. The teacher required Joe's son to share his essay in class with his writing response group; the three members of the group gave a little feedback, but not as much as the writer was hoping for. At home, Joe encouraged his son to polish up the essay once more time, and then post it on a national sports blog for feedback. Within twenty-four hours, the essay received hundreds of responses. Some comments were--of course--unintelligent disagreements, but Joe had prepared his son that this would probably happen. Many of the responses were thoughtful and helpful, even from readers who disagreed with Joe's son's opinions. As Joe explains, "This was the most authentic writing task my son had ever experienced. Did he take writing the essay more seriously when he decided to publish it where thousands would see it? You bet he did."

Inspired by Joe's story, NNWP Consultant and middle school teacher, Dena Harrison, established a classroom website where her students could experience the authentic task of publishing their creative writing online. Unlike the blog where Joe's son posted his essay, Dena keeps a stricter eye on who can comment on writing and what they are saying. At a ning or a blog, a teacher can put as much or as little control over the online environment as he/she wishes. You can read about Dena's ning and the rules she enforces at her website. As Dena says, "My kids write and re-write so differently now that they feel their writing might actually be seen by the world."

But authentic publishing doesn't have to be centered around technology. NNWP Consultant and second grade teacher, Sandra Young, teaches an annual inservice about the lessons she prepares that combine art and writing. Sandra's second-graders understand when there's both art and writing in their lesson that their work is going to be displayed somewhere, and the efforts they put forth are much different with these types of writing assignments. You can access resources from Sandra's Art and Writing Workshop here at WritingFix.

WritingFix safely publishes students who use WritingFix assignments in class. Teachers may send us final products that show evidence of all steps of the writing process.

Learn more about WritingFix's Student Publishing Program.

At WritingFix, we believe in the importance of making writing tasks more authentic by publishing them in ways that students take seriously and feel proud of. During the 2009-2010 school year, WritingFix helped publish over five-hundred students from around the globe; these students had teachers who used WritingFix lessons, and the teachers sent us their students' final drafts for consideration. As one Canadian teacher told us: ""Thank you very much for choosing my students' work [to publish at WritingFix]. It is indeed a wonderful source of motivation."

In 2010-2011, we hope to publish--at least--five-hundred more students. Mention this to your students. We bet some of them will write with more seriousness knowing they might become "famous."

This page is our growing collection of additional ways to make publishing feel more authentic.

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You can access all the past featured lessons by visiting our lesson archive when you click here.

 

Meet NNWP Teacher Consultant Amie Newberry
Publishing in High School
Meet NNWP Teacher Consultant Ann Urie
Publishing in First Grade

When I was in school and the teacher mentioned we would be writing an essay, the announcement was met with a collective "Ugh!" It might have had something to do with the single topic we had to write on or, quite possibly, the yellow-lined paper that we were forced to fill at least two pages front and back. As a student, deep down, I think I knew I liked to write, but my inner writing spirit didn't mesh with the way I was required to put words on paper while in school.

My name is Amie Newberry, and I teach high school English in Northern Nevada. I will be the first to tell you I don't feel like I am a "master" in the subject of teaching English, but I do feel like I do a good job of connecting with kids, listening to them, and helping them find their best as a student in class.

Even though publishing is slated at the end of the writing process--the metaphorical caboose of the train--I believe it's something you need to think about before you have your students write. If we want our students to embrace writing, or at least not throw daggers at us when we announce a writing assignment, we need to find creative ways to harness the final product into something they can be excited about, and obviously that has to happen at the birth of our project. Yes, the essay still has a place in our class (although I still have nightmares about that yellow lined paper), but there are other exciting ways to check their understanding.

In my opinion, publishing has two distinct parts: how the piece will be created and what is done with the created piece. On this page, you will find some great ideas that will tap into both of these important aspects of publishing. I hope the ideas here will help your students feel passionate about their writing pieces and see the many purposes of a published piece.

Creative Publishing Ideas from Amie's Class
  • Scrapbooking: Using scrapbooking and photo-journaling to create authentic and meaningful writing experiences

So much of children’s learning comes from the book form, it should follow that children are able to process learning by making and writing their own books. For years I have observed my own children as they have written and illustrated books of their own: hours upon hours of literacy development captured in books as evidence of eager young learners.

My oldest daughter recently graduated from high school. As I looked through years of photos, I also came across years of writing that she had done. Little books popped up from every box I opened. As a Writing Project consultant, I had taught many inservice classes on the publishing process, focusing on “Literacy and the Book Arts” when my children were small. My daughters were my sample makers, especially my older daughter, Lizzie, who has always loved to write. She wrote about flowers, plants, friends, family, activities, and vacations. As I revisited these little books, I realized what they had done for her as a writer, that is, enabled her to see herself as an author from a very young age.

When I took these books to Lizzie’s graduation party along with photos of her throughout her school career, she looked at me with wide-eyed amazement as in “Really, Mom? You are not going to embarrass me by sitting these out, are you?” I also had piles of high school newspapers for which she had written many articles and served as editor-in-chief. Of course, the books and newspapers were the hit of the party! Everyone enjoyed the writing and pictures and topics.

I firmly believe that these books serve as natural vehicles for young authors. In the book Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk, the title character challenges the boys and girls in the library to write their own stories by setting out a stack of tiny books for them. Young children (and even high school students) will rise to the challenge! In my first grade classroom, the book can be the inspiration for the writing. Knowing how a book is made can help the author with the initial intention for writing. The book can provide meaning and motivation. Critical thinking skills must be engaged to make decisions about layout, text, editing, etc. Many writing lessons are taught with a book in mind as the final publication, but sometimes empty books are presented and made with the children, waiting for the ideas to tumble into them.

Here are some of my favorite books to make with children. Carol Pallesen, a gifted calligrapher, artist, bookmaker, and good friend has been a mentor to me with these books, and I would like to thank her for teaching me the basics of book making.

Creative Publishing Ideas from Ann's Class

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Original Lessons at WritingFix that Lend Themselves to Unique Publishing Ideas:

Creating a 2nd-Person
Choice Story

Overview: Students--perhaps inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure-style books--really enjoy writing choice-based stories for each other as a way to authentically publish. This lesson is designed to help students understand plot dimensions and literary devices while writing a multi-faceted short story that has many possible outcomes.

Lesson Author: Dawn Callahan, high school teacher

PowerPoint
Life-Span Diaries

Overview: Students translate research about an animal or other living creature into their own words by writing a "life-span diary" that shares fact-filled entries from 10-12 days in the life of the creature they have researched. Students draft their diaries on paper, revise and edit with peer response groups, then publish their final diary using a Power Point slide show. This lesson is part of our ScienceFix collection.

More to come!
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