This week in a mad rush we completed our Choose Your Own Adventure Stories and then published them using Book Creator just in time to showcase them to the parents and other classes at our end of term open night.
The results were amazing as the students let their creative genius loose and the parents were blown away by what their children had produced. They really enjoyed the Choose Your Own Adventure Story format and the opportunity to have different endings to the same story. I think they particularly like having endings where you died.
It was wonderful to have a parent ask if all the stories would be on our class blog so that she could read them all.An authentic audience rather than just me! They are by the way so feel free to have a read at mrsmiths56class.edublogs.org.
My biggest win in this whole process was with my autistic student who is a very reluctant writer. This boy loves to draw and hates to write and was having a meltdown over the whole idea of having to write so much. I quickly settled him down when I sold him on the idea of making a comic book in Book Creator with his images and using the dialogue between his characters to tell the story. He quickly set to work and after three days asked me if I could help him edit his comic book. This is my fourth year of teaching this boy and I have to say this was the most engaged I have ever seen him in the writing process. As I read his comic back to him he was telling me where he needed commas and other punctuation and was explaining to me why he thought words would be spelled the way he had spelled them. I learned more about what he had actually learned this term in that 10 minutes than I had for the entire term.So the end product was a comic book made up of 103 pages which he informed me was only the first installment. He was so proud of his achievement he went and showed every single teacher his story and I was contacted by his mother to tell me how amazed she was with what he had done. This is the real power of using technology in the classroom, the ability for students to present their learning to you in a way that suits their creative style. If I had told him he had to write a story in his book I would have got nothing, but by introducing him to the idea of a comic book I all of a sudden get well over 1000 words along with some fantastic artwork.
The day after our open night I had the students read each others stories during our Read to Self time during Daily 5. This is usually a time of silent reading but they couldn’t help themselves. There was a constant murmur of excitement as they read each others adventures and tried to choose a way that would not lead to a grizzly death. There were groans and giggles everywhere and the looks of pride as they complimented each other was priceless.
We then had a debrief about the whole process and what they had learned. What was the one thing they all agreed on that they had learned? That they needed to edit more as they were not perfect.They recognised that even though they thought they had found all the mistakes through their own and peer editing, that there was still more mistakes. We were then able to reflect on some of our Skype’s with authors who had told them that the editing process actually took twice as long as the writing process. They were desperate to go and do some more editing to make them perfect. They wanted to print their stories and place them in the school library for other students to read. Would they have this desire for perfection if I was the only audience? I don’t think so, for me they would be content with good enough, but for the World, they want it perfect.
My Principal’s catch phrase this year is, “what are you going to do to take it to the next level?” So after everything I do with the kids I have been asking myself this question. For this task, I think it has to be to have the stories published as a hard copy book which we can donate to the library. I am going to set the students who are keen to be published a deadline to have perfectly edited stories to me by the end of the holidays.and I will then use an online book publisher to create a number of hard copies.
I did trial Storybird with one of my students stories and although it did look great with the artwork it provides for your use, I think I will try a different program to print a hard copy from.