During the second trimester of school, some of my mixed-age class of kindergarten and first-graders were feeling unmotivated to write. It’s hard to get students at this age to remember capitals and periods, or to spell phonetically, let alone produce detailed narratives and descriptive writing pieces. My students needed a purpose for their writing.
As a class, we explored the question, “What makes you want to pick up a book?” We began exploring what they look for in choosing a book to read. Responses included the cover, illustrations, characters I like, and a topic of interest.
Next, I posed the project to them. “I want you to create a class book that you would want to pick up. You can be as creative as you want. Each of you will write your own story, edit your story, rewrite it, and then type and illustrate it using Pixie. I will collect all the stories together into a book and publish them.” My students’ enthusiasm could not be matched when they found out that they were going to become published authors!
While the advanced students were fairly independent in creating, editing, and typing their stories, the struggling writers needed more one-on-one help. After they had independently written their stories, one of my parent helpers or I conferenced with each student about their writing, offering suggestions about concrete details and sequencing.
Most students rewrote their stories two to three times before being ready to type and illustrate them in Pixie. I spent approximately fifteen minutes with each child to coach them in their writing and to help them with editing. I encouraged them throughout the writing process, focusing on building their confidence as writers.
I love using Pixie with my students, and because I wanted them to illustrate their writing, it was a natural choice for publishing. It was easy to export student work as PDF and transfer into a photobook to publish our class book.
After all their hard work, we celebrated with a book signing and meet the author event. We invited parents, administrators, executive counsel, and the board members from our district. The students dressed as professional authors for the special event, read their stories aloud, signed autographs, and posed for pictures upon request.
I set up our multi-purpose room with four stages focused on a particular writing topic chosen by the students, including “Animal Adventures,” “Familiar Characters in All New Adventures,” “Sweet Memories,” and “Fun Fiction.” I provided a table of refreshments, and our guests were encouraged to circle around to each stage to hear the live readings. Students sat at tables by each stage to sign autographs. Since not all families purchased their own copy of the book, I gave each student a set of 50 autograph cards with their picture to sign and hand out to their adoring fans.
It was rewarding to see the confidence this project built and the joy on the face of each one of our budding authors as their hard work was celebrated!
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