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April 28, 2010 Use Student Publishing as a Hook for Summer Reading By Victoria Jasztal
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    As the end of the school year approaches, my students will be working on a book publishing project next month. The project was discussed in an earlier post, yet now that my students are aware of what they will be publishing, I am ecstatic to begin the process.

    As the end of the school year approaches, my students will be working on a book publishing project next month. The project was discussed in an earlier post, yet now that my students are aware of what they will be publishing, I am ecstatic to begin the process. Read on to see some creative writing samples from my students and to see how using a book publishing project in your classroom will keep your students hearts and minds engaged and ready for Scholastic's upcoming Summer Reading Challenge. 


    My students have been writing stories during Writer’s Workshop since the beginning of the year, and they have been focusing on potential stories for the project since earlier this month. The class has determined the genre of the story they are going to publish and whether they will be including a number of shorter stories or one long story. They will be receiving a blank book (click on the link to purchase books for $1.75 each) as well as papers that have formatted lines to either glue or tape in the book. 


    They will focus on the skills they have been exposed to over the school year: onomatopoeia, strong vocabulary, grabbers, strong conclusions, quotations, words to replace “said”, characterization, enhanced descriptions, alliteration, transition words, similes, metaphors, writing thoughts to self in italics, and using punctuation to enhance a point. They will also focus on examples from former students as well as their own impressive works that have earned high scores. Here are some excerpts from some very recent work:

    I look everywhere for things I can use. What I found was a full body of armor, an invincibility potion just in case my dad falls into the lava, a revitalizing potion that will bring you back to life, a flame thrower, and a magic mitten. Then I headed for my dad and luckily I found the beach that was surprisingly only a mile away. I turned myself into a rocket using my magic mitten to get to the top of the volcano…

    “Hello, young and loyal princessa,” a prince called to me.
    “You are very foolish to try talking to me,” I groaned.
    “Not to worry, gifted princessa,” he commented.
    “You are quite meek,” I said softly.
    “Well then come ride with me to the river?” he suggested.
    “I’d rather not,” I responded and ran off.

    When I got to my castle, I got my bags packed and rode off with my horse. I mysteriously appeared in a kingdom made of… FOOD! The roads were made of rock candy, the trees made of lollypops… the rivers made of different drinks! Lake Mary Shake was made of lemonade, River Lake was made of sweet tea, and Chocolate Stream was made of different milks! The pizza place was made of pizza, of course, and cheese. The ground, grass, and dirt was made of cotton candy! There was only one town that was made of healthy food, and that was Fatville. The unhealthy town was called Skinnyville. I helped myself to some diamond grass made of sparkly cotton candy…

    Then they talked about the selfish king. He lived in a castle down south. They stated the rules they lived by, and that’s what got me mad. They had to pay all the money they had to him. I wanted to capture him; the farther said he had a sword if I was ready. Though I wanted to, I had not ever handled a sword before. The next day he trained me to use it. I mastered the sword; I was going to go, but I knew I could not do it myself. I went to people to join my army. I had sixty people, and then we headed down to the castle. Twenty guards came out and attacked us. We beat them with only three of our men down…

    “Ahh!” I screamed as I noticed I was falling, but I had no idea where I was going to land or why on Earth I was falling. Then suddenly, it hit me. There was a sudden rush of coldness flowing into my body; it felt like a quarter after you put it into the freezer for about ten to fifteen minutes. I looked around and saw two cube-shaped objects on the other side of the… GAMEBOARD! They were dice, and I was sitting in the little metal car piece, the piece I used when I played Monopoly with my sister Bailey. So I was stuck in the middle of Monopoly; that was just perfect. It was Bailey’s turn and so she picked up the dice, rolled them around in the palms of her hands, dropped them, and then screamed, “I got a twelve!” It was absolutely horrible, especially the fact that it was a giant Bailey and a giant- ME! playing each other. My horrible little sister picked up her piece and moved it twelve spaces. “Electric Company, 250 dollars,” she read out loud, “I’ll take it!” Then it was my giant’s turn; I rolled and then I was shocked because I rolled snake eyes (two). My giant picked me up and moved me two dreadful spaces. Unfortunately, I landed on Electric Company, the exact place my sister bought about two minutes ago. “Ha! Ha! Pay up 200 dollars please!” Bailey gloated…

    Mary Kate:
    Our mission is to battle a giant squid. “These people are complete lunatics.” Then Louis came in on the walkie talkie. “Yep, go to the left, and you will see a cave. Go in; Collin and Syrus are right behind you with the Water Blaster 2000. So nothing should go wrong.”
    “Are you trying to kill me? Leaving them with guns is like a demented chimp handling a gun!” I shouted into my micro chip.
    “Heyyy,” Collin shouted. We made the sharp left turn. Before my eyes, I saw a whole bunch of coral and beautiful water plants. Tropical fish swam by. A silvery gray stingray glided under me. I never knew there was so much life in the water, I thought to myself. A violet-colored fish looked at me and swam away. It is magnificent! Soon I saw the cave Louis was talking about. I saw a luminescent jellyfish swim out. The inside was all black and extremely cold…

    I was almost flame roasted lunch for a fiery 16-foot tall dragon. I would say I met death himself maneuvering the dragon from the outside in. The dragon was slow, but had good aim, and his slowness was my advantage and my accuracy was his advantage. One wrong transformation and I was dead.
    I must have speed, but I also need strength, I thought to myself. I chose “Waspinator”. I yelled the name and felt the change immediately. Lion skin emerged from my body; I felt my arms grow longer, and felt the sharp gnashing teeth grow to replace the flat ones. Most of all, I felt the strong athlete legs come…

    Before the end of the school year, I will post more about the specific projects my students have chosen to work on, but it seems like they are off to a sensational start with a lot of prospects. 


    Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge

    This week, I challenge you to encourage your students to take part in setting a new world record for summer reading. Last year, 35,846,094 minutes were logged in from students around the world. This summer, I will be encouraging my current and potentially my upcoming students to rise to the challenge and read novels that interest them.

    This Friday at 1:00 p.m. EST, there is going to be a webcast that you can broadcast live to your classroom that features Gordon Korman, Lisa Yee, R.L. Stine, Christopher Paul Curtis, and Jon Scieszka. Though my students will be on a field trip and not be at school to participate in the webcast, I am going to do my best possible to discuss my students’ reading interests with them and find ways to motivate them to pick up as many books as possible. 

    Ask your students what their reading preferences are: whether they enjoy reading about people and places, fantasy and adventures, friends and fun, or thrills and chills. One thing that you can do besides using the tremendous teacher guide is teach your students’ parents to use Book Alike on the Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard. For example, if you are a fan of the novel Indian in the Cupboard, you can locate the titles of other fantasy-related novels. You can also provide them with a list (PDF) of appropriate reading suggestions.

    Additionally, encourage your students to respond to trivia questions and play games on the Internet regarding their favorite books. For example, Scholastic hosts a Harry Potter Trivia Challenge.

    All in all, the reading and writing connection is sensational. If you encourage both in your classroom, students can look forward to an invigorating summer filled with family adventures, relaxation, and… a really good book!



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