The Power of Publishing Student Work

This week we are madly working at completing our  Choose Your Own Adventure Stories before our school open night. After spending  a term of reading R.L. Stine, Give Yourself Goosebumps books and learning about how to write sizzling sentences with author Chris Tozier via Skype, the students were chomping at the bit to get writing their own stories.

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We are a 1to1 Ipad class so after some time spent planning their stories the students went to work on their stories using Google Docs to share their stories with me and their peers.

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I first used Google Docs two years ago as a way for me to monitor student progress and to give them feedback, but quickly learned how much they enjoyed reading each others stories and giving each other feedback. That first day, I had shown the students how to share their stories with me and then went home to find that they had shared their stories, not just with me but also their friends. But the biggest surprise was that their friends had actually gone home and read their stories that night and they had all given each other great feedback. Collaborative learning at its best!

But last year I discovered how powerfully motivating it is for the students to go beyond writing stories that are only read by myself and their friends, but to instead publish their stories online via our class blog for a global audience. Using technology to write and publish their stories has meant that I no longer have students coming up and asking “have I written enough yet?”, when they had filled a page in their writing book with 200 words. Instead, I am asking students to start to wind up their stories after 5000 words. Even my most reluctant writer now writes stories of over 1500 words. Why? Because instead of writing for me, they are writing for a global audience. They now want their stories to be great, not just good enough!

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Our app of choice to publish our stories has been Book Creator. Students can quickly put together professional looking digital books which also look great when printed. But I was very excited this year when some students decided to publish their stories in the form of a comic.

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We have also been experimenting with using  an app called Green Screen in our classroom this year, so what better way to enhance our stories than with some amazing images.

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My students can’t wait to unveil their stories to our parents and the World later in the week, evidenced by the stream of emails I have received tonight from students requesting Green Screen time tomorrow. Would I have had the same enthusiasm about writing if I had just asked my students to write a good copy in their books? I think my answer for that came tonight when I was talking to my son about his story writing. He was telling me about a story he was writing for class, which he was very excited about. When I gave him some ideas to enhance his writing which he agreed would be great, he said it was too late as he had written it in his book and he did not want to rub it out to add more to his story, it was good enough.

The difference between “Great” and “Good Enough” is in the audience!

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