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January 31, 2014 Student-Published Writing Celebrations By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    It is human nature to want to be recognized for your accomplishments. For some of us, it is internal; the self-satisfaction of completing a task is enough. But then there are those of us that look for affirmation from others. There is nothing more rewarding than watching my students go through a unit of study, craft a new idea, and work diligently throughout the entire writing process. And voilà — a student-crafted piece is published. The kids have given birth to their manuscripts.

    My students are aware that their writing is graded using a genre-based rubric. The majority of them use the rubric as a tool/checklist before handing in their work. They recognize the grading practice, but honestly, they really look forward to the “celebration” piece of the writing process and rightly so — they have worked hard! 

     Pearls of Wisdom — Be sure to give your students the requirements/rubric before they have completed the assignment. This will help to alleviate any questions or concerns regarding your expectations of their work.

    I think back to how, way back in the day when I was in school, writing was celebrated by students standing up in front of the classroom and reading their writing to the class. For some, it was an opportunity to be in front of the class and have everyone’s attention and for others, it was agony. Celebrations have evolved since then and are a way in which we affirm ourselves as a community — a community of writers.

    Ways We Celebrate

    Museum/Gallery Walk — Student work is placed on the desks and displayed around the classroom. There are blank Post-it notes placed on each desk. Students, with pen/pencil in hand, circulate around the room reading the published pieces. They are encouraged to offer a compliment (what the author did really well) and a tip (what the author can do to improve their writing — the tip should be more about the writing craft and not so much on the mechanics).

    Author's Share — Students are placed in small groups and discuss each other’s writing, again looking at offering a compliment and a tip. Students also discuss what went well and what, as writers, gave them pause from the unit.

    Author’s Café — Parents, family members, friends, and building administrators are invited to read or listen to student work. Students can decide whether they will read their work to an audience or have it read by the visitors.

    Author’s Exchange — This works well if you partner with another teacher in your school. Students exchange their work not with just their classmates, but with other students in their grade. This gives them a different audience and an opportunity to examine writing by other students besides their classmates.

    We are preparing for our next writing celebration. Please tune in next week to watch us as we celebrate our writing of informational books.


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