Reluctant Reader as Author

Literacy specialist, Pat Martin,  authored this guest blog on one of publishing projects.
Pat Martin last guest blogged about the Parents’ Literacy Publishing Project

Img_0182_2Cuyler, a winsome first grader, has published his first book.  The experience encouraged him to exclaim, “I’m going to publish more than 1000 books. I have so much more to say.”

Mid-way through his second year of formal schooling, Cuyler should be reading about level 9/10 (guided reading text level as described by Pinnell and Fountas).  He’s not.  However, after reading a text created by MaryAnn McAlpin, a retired Reading Recovery teacher, for her grandson, Cuyler was motivated to create his own text using that model.

“I’m going to publish more than 1000 books. I have so much more to say.” ~ Cuyler, a 1st grader

Writing his personal text benefits Cuyler in so many ways.  His extensive daily vocabulary is supported by actual printed text.  His interests, vehicles of every description and outdoor life, become the basis of his text which further stimulates his daily effort to acquire reading skill.  As such noted advocates for boy literacy as Ralph Fletcher and Michael Gurian note, primary texts and writing prompts seldom deal with the world that interests boys.  There is scant opportunity to connect with the texts, to bring personal experience into the reading/writing or to interact with the text content.

Img_0193_2 Capturing Cuyler’s explanations and descriptions as a book’s text mimics interactive writing or the daily journal writing in the reading Recovery lesson.  And what child wouldn’t read and reread a book of their pictures and writing?  What better way to achieve fluency?  Certainly a more exciting, engaging and authentic method than grappling through Cuyler’s four inch thick stack of Dolch sight words – a practice he he finds less than engaging. Cuyler now sees himself as a literate individual.  He is excited about the growing up as a reader and writer rather than defeated by the challenges that text holds. 

By providing text that supports him as a reader and validates him as a writer, Cuyler is on the path of literacy.  And he is an excited traveler who wants to know “how many days until we go back to that learning lab so I can publish books.”Img_0192_2

For sometime now I’ve been an advocate of new print on demand technologies to give students a chance to publish their learning for an authentic audience and purpose. I’ve partnered with Pat Martin, a literacy specialist and Suzanne Suor, an educational technology consultant, to open a Educational Publishing Learning Lab in Rochester NY. We offer a variety of training packages to assist teachers and districts in taking advantage of the new opportunities in digital publishing. The lab is located at ColorCentric digital publishers, so participants can not only learn how to publish, but tour the facility to see books being made. For more information on how you and your students can publish your own books visit our website Read > Think > Write > Publish

So why aren’t your students publishing their own books? Part II

ABCs Human Body
ABCs Human Body

It’s been nearly a year since I first raised that question. In case you haven’t heard – print on demand technology has made it possible to produce beautiful hard cover and paperback books without minimum runs or prohibitive upfront costs. During the last year, I have helped teachers from across the country get started on digital publishing. Kids are motivated by producing books for an authentic audience. Publishing helps students master course content and develop project management and teamwork skills. The power of publishing enables students to think like writers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning. It exemplifies the best of the information revolution –students as creators of content rather than as passive audience.

I find that a publishing project is a great way to ensure that my training workshops get put to use back in the classroom and result in teachers having the chance to reflect on their practice by looking at student work.

I continue to add material my website – Read>Think>Write>Publish. Go there and you’ll find downloadable template books and tech guides. I also have posted sample student books that you can use as models to motivate your students. You can download them as a free pdf or order them published at cost.

Stay tuned – student publishing is going to be big!

Read > Think > Write > Publish – The Power of Student Publishing

I’ve launched a new website Read > Think > Write > Publish to promote publishing, an activity that enables students to think like writers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning. The site provides sample student books and writing prompts.

Students at-risk for literacy need immersion in literacy tasks, reading and writing, that replicate the real world because they are the learners who lack the schema that defines literacy in the real world. Without publishing the student does not complete the writing process so they never rise above the level of “school work” to “real work.” They never function as a writer. Literacy must be grounded in the real world to have value.

Publishing student writing encourages the reluctant writer by strengthening self-confidence, rewarding interest and promoting a positive attitude toward writing.
When students publish, they think like writers. They have to problem-solve and make decisions as writers to assume the responsibility of a published writer. This supports them as readers. If they haven’t written themselves, they have trouble analyze another writer’s work. If they have experience they know what to look for and how to evaluate what they see. Publishing is an excellent method to accomplish three central tasks:
• Understand topics thoroughly
• Actively use the information they assemble
• Move knowledge into one’s schema