A few months ago when I ran a two-day workshop at Chris Lehmann‘s Science Leadership Academy, we talked about how easy it is for students to be publishing, not just in digital forms but in traditional print as well. Chris even went so far as to hang a sign on one of the shelves in the school library that read “Your Books Here” or something to that effect. Well, George Mayo, who has been doing great work over the past couple of years with his seventh graders in Virginia, and who attended that workshop, has helped his kids put together a book that is now for sale at Lulu. It’s a set of personal narratives titled “Stories from the Past.”
The book is a compilation of narrative essays, written by my seventh grade students, telling the stories of their grandparents, parents and other relatives. These essays show the amazing diversity we have at Silver Spring International Middle School. The stories range from a guerilla war in Ecuador, to WW II and the Great Depression, to two survival stories from the Holocaust, escaping Vietnam during the war, and many more.
It’s a free download, and it costs about $12 to get the paperback version. As George writes “The students are amazed that they are actually published.” In a few weeks, the book will be available on Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble. And, I’m sure, it will have a place in his school library.
Now how cool is that?
Technorati Tags: lulu, georgemayo, writing, publishing, learning
Karl Fisch says
This is great. I especially like that it’s also a free download. I’ve been trying to find the time to explore Lulu more to see how it works before sharing with my staff. Once again, you’ve spurred me to action (and even more work – thanks).
I’ll email George as well, but it would be great to hear more about the process. I’d like to know more about the technical side (formatting, uploading, etc.), the writing side (what kind of structure/rules/purpose did he give the students), and of course the legal side (permission to do this, how does he handle the money from any sales, etc.)
Lulu offers a template for formatting. I used the 6×9 template created by Tinhorn. Lulu links to many services that help you with formatting, but they are pricey. I found Tinhorn’s 6×9 template under the “services” link.
Once you download the template, you simply paste in your text. Overall, I had to play with the template for a week (my Spring Break) to get it right. This first book was an experiment to see if I could pull it off. Hopefully, the more books we publish, the easier it will get.
This was a typical writing assignment. However, I did emphasize that these essays were going to be published. I also made them all read their essays aloud, and I recorded them. (We created cd’s of all the essays w/ original covers.) When students have to read their work, they edit their work more carefully. However, there are grammatical errors in the writing, as you would expect from middle school writers. Even so, the work is really good and the stories the students tell are fascinating.
On the legal side, I had everyone sign permission slips. A few kids opted out. Also, I only used students’ first names, and the initials of their last names.
Lulu offers E-Books for free. This is a great service for teachers who want to archive student writing in a clean and accessible format. I like to save as much student work as possible.
THX Karl~ george
Clarence Fisher says
A wonderful idea to share student writing. Its one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas.
Gary Stager says
What’s not to like?
Check out http://www.blurb.com/ as well. It produces beautiful books.
Andrew Pass says
This is wonderful. It will allow kids to recognize that their voices do matter and they have the ability to spread their voices. I’ll never forget the time that I mentioned to class that writing is far more powerful than speaking because when somebody writes it can be read by many. When somebody speaks the audience is limited. One student chimed in that when people write only one person reads, the teacher. As the realities of self-publishing and web 2.0 spread more and more students will recognize the power of writing. Let’s get a move on.
Patrick Higgins says
I was at the workshop in Philly when Chris showed us this and sprinted back to my buildings and immediately reserved shelf-space in the libraries. It’s a fantastic idea and it deserves to get some traction in schools.
The problem I run into is with the fact that there is money being made off of the students if the bound book is bought. Is this ethical? Has this been done before in other ways? Somewhere in someone’s board policy, the issue of profiting off of students must have come up before.
On a personal note, I used Lulu to create a book for my wife for Valentine’s Day, and it was seamless and I had the book bound and in my home within a week.
Brian B. says
My school district has used Lulu a couple of times for publishing Anthologies of student work. This year’s publication is all poetry – including students from kindergarten through the 6th grade.
I might address Patrick’s issue – our publication is entirely voluntary. The students know ahead of time that it is a fundraiser for the school and they are not required to participate. The parents know it too. Full disclosure is the only way to go.
To address Patrick’s issue of making money. The book is being sold for the EXACT cost of making it. I set the retail mark-up at zero. So the cost of each book is just for the production. You can also side-step this by doing E-Books. Lulu doesn’t charge anything to host your E-Books.
Does this help?
Patrick Higgins says
That pretty much solves it. A few weeks back I gave a short demonstration to some of my faculty and they loved it, but we were advised to hold off until we could figure this out. If we can set the profit to be zero, that might be the answer.
I will share this info with my staff, as well as the student work.
allison & liam (7th graders) says
Hello, this is Allison and Liam here to talk about how it feels having our work published in this book. We are students of Mr. Mayo’s.
We helped Mr. Mayo edit the book and we were suprised to find out how diverse the world really is. To have our work published in a book like this, made us feel proud and inspired. We have showed our work to the people that we have interviewed and it has touched their heart to know that we care so much about them. Our parents are planning on buying the book because they are so proud of our hard work.
Buy the book and if you buy it, then leave a review on the lulu site about what you think of it. Thanks.
Evelyn (7th grader) says
Hi my name is Evelyn. I am a 7th grader in Mr. Mayo’s 1st period class. I would just like to say it’s is really cool how I am like an actual author now. My essay was on my dad and I shared my personal things about him. It was great to share many things people have not known about my family. Now that my essay is published I feel like other people could see and feel how my dad and I compare to each other.
Thank you for taking your time to read this and please buy the book to learn many things you did not know.
Melissa (7th grader) says
Hey, my name is Melissa.I am in Mr.Mayo’s first period class as well; and I would just like to say how awesome the publishing experience has been. Not only do I feel like a real author, but I learned new things about my family and how different we are from other families.
This book is filled with funny and inspiring stories, and taking the time to read it would be worth your while.
Cholo (7th grader) says
Hi my name is Cholo. I feel that it’s an oopurtunity that something that I wrote got published and other people in far places can read it. This may be a start for me if I become a writer. This project was different from any other thing that we did in English class because for 1, I got to talk to my grandparents and everybody in the class sort of knows a little abiut each others grandparents, other than that we learned a little “history”, you know how life was 20-70 years ago.
Michael (7th Grader) says
Hello my name is Michael and I am one of Mr. Mayo’s 7th grade students. WE made a bokk in class that tells stories of people that have done amazing things. My chapter was about my grandpa.
I think it is very impotant to write about people in the past because I bet one day in the future, people will purchase this book, read it, and say “I have never heard of this person before but it sounds like he/she did a really cool thing. My grandfather was a part of the March On Washington with Martin Luther King Junior. I can tell my kids about him and what he did thanks to this book. They can also learn something about Martin Luther King from my chapter and that is important because my kids will be African American and it is important for them to learn about Black History. That’s why I think that writing this book is very important.
Lynn Wilker says
Way to go George. I will buy the book as soon as it comes out. Hope all is going well.
Laurel (7th Grader) says
I think that having your work published is a great learning experience. It makes you care more about your writing, and it makes you feel like your writing is worth something. You also think more about your audience, and that your writing isn’t just for your teacher, but everyone in the world. I, for one, pushed myself harder because I knew that our book would be something people would keep, and look back on to help remember the past. Overall, I think that all students at some point in their schooling should have their work published in some way, because it is a one of a kind experience that everyone should have.
Savanna (7th Grader) says
I think it feels good to see my work in print, in a real book. Anybody could see it, so I really tried to make my essay good. Also, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, so I think having this experience now will help me later of I do become a writer.
I think having writing published is a cool thing to do with schoolwork. Usually it ends up gathering dust on the teacher’s desk, but now anybody could read it.
I really encourage you to buy the book!! 🙂
Gary Stager says
Yay! Read kids!!!
Check out: http://blog.genyes.com/ to see another example of kids and adults doing real work together.
Now if we could just realize this dream of kids and adults doing real work together in a subject other than language arts.
Papert’s vision of children as mathematicians (for example) is quite possible, but given almost no attention in a world fixated on information.
Parker (7th Grader) says
I think it is really important to have my wting in a real book because you do writng all your life, And all that writing usually ends up either on your teacher’s desk or in the trash. So to have a piece that I worked really hard is really cool actually! So inclusion, i’m glad that i’ll be able to keep my writing for ever and ever!
Rose (7th Grader) says
I think that this book is a very great way to expose are work and have other people read it because usually only the students and the teacher get to see our work so for people all over the place to buy this book (we’ve already sold 47 copies!)is really cool! Im glad I got to put my work into this book.
Maureen (7th Grader) says
I think that book was a good way to inspire students to write better because we feel that our writing is being valued.
Marjorie (7th Grader) says
I like the book because it tells the stories of the past, the stories of hardship and sorrow, joy and love. Without this book we wouldn’t be able to learn from the past so we can make a better tomorrow.
Marone (7th Grader) says
I think it’s really cool that our work has been published for practically the whole world to see. It gives others a chance to remember the people before us and how life was much tuffer than it is now because I think sometimes people take it for granted.
Alijha (7th Grader) says
Sup? I’m Alijha and I think that doing this book was a great idea. Usually when we are told to write a story or essay that is close or about someone close to us, we just hand in the paper and get it back with marks on it. Having our writing published makes us or me feel that we do, actually have somewhat of an importance in the world. It’s like we are a lttile famous in our own way and it’s nice to know that people care and like us good enough to read what we have to say.
Alanna (7th Grader) says
Hey, my names Alanna and I just wanted to add to what my classmates have been saying. I really enjoy writing and I think that to actually have my work published in a book is really awesome. It really makes me feel like people care about what we are saying and it makes english class even more full of opportunities. So far we’ve already sold 47 copies of the book and it’s amazing to think that all 47 people who ordered that book have my writing in it.
Corey (7th Grader) says
My name is Corey. I think its very amazing that so many students stories have been printed into a real book that is going out into the world that will always be there. Forever and ever. Also i think its amazing that the school has worked so hard to publish the book. I think 12 or 13 years olds who have there stories in the book, really feel important or heard.
Zoey (7th Grader) says
I’m a seventh grader that was part of this book and im so glad we got to do this assignment. Its defenitly differnt then anything else anybody has done in english and its very fun. Instead of writing the essay and it being graded and given back to you its out in a book so the whole world gets a chance too look at it!
Theresa (7th Grader) says
It feels great to know that my writings good enough to be in a published book that everyone can read. And its important to read about the past to see how things changed from when your parents and grandparents where your age. It interesting to know what about our past generations.
Having been there the day the Lulu conversation was first had with all of us at SLA, after seeing Chris print out the shelf ‘tag’, after sensing something as afoot…I am truly impressed by the shift Mr. Mayo offers…and even more so by the kids themselves. A brave new world, one Lulu moment at a time!