Publishing Student Work
Why do we write? To communicate, and communication requires audience. Without audience our desire to write and to improve our writing diminishes.
There are a number of ways we can offer audience in the classroom. We can invite students to participate in author’s chair. We can project or read from their work during minilessons to illustrate craft. But one of the most successful ways of inspiring students to write and revise is to publish their work.
Contrary to what some believe, publishing is not copying one’s work over for the student portfolio. We may imply that others will have access to their folders, will be able to read their work, but this is definitely not the audience students seek.
Nor is it advisable to publish all students simultaneously – not unless you have a truly authentic means of publishing: your class is creating a literary magazine, students are going to present their travel brochures to the state department of tourism, or you’ve invited another school to participate in a third grade poetry slam. Instead, it’s better to publish individuals when they’ve done something truly exceptional. I usually watch for a breakthrough in revision.
Deb Bartlett, fourth grade teacher at Durham Elementary School in Maine, invites her students to create Podcasts. Her method is relatively simple: the students create a cover sheet, choose introductory music and sound effects if appropriate, and read their work into the computer. Deb photographs and uploads the cover. Listen to her students’ work.
No doubt computers are making publishing a far easier and more meaningful endeavor. Student work can be posted on your class website, emailed to administrators or other school professionals for their feedback, presented in PowerPoint presentations. I f you and your students do not have easy access to computers, check out the list below for other ideas. You’ll find that nothing motivates your students to revise and edit more than knowing others will read or listen to their work.
- Place in a class anthology (I use a 3-ring binder and page protectors. Students take turns bringing the “Big Book” home to share with their families.)
- Include a few samples of student writing each week in the class newsletter
- Have students read to younger students.
- Post on website
- Create podcasts
- Record a class radio show
- Perform as a skit
- Read at an Authors’ Tea
- Compile a class book around a single theme (poems, funny stories, holiday stories, etc.)
- Include in a class yearbook
- Include in the school literary magazine
- Submit to a student market or contest
- Give as a gift
I’d love to hear ways in which your students have published!