Monday, June 30, 2014

Student Created Book Ideas

This year, I tried a different technique for encouraging student narrative writing.  We created a cohesive project over the last few months of the school year, building and refining skills found in the Six Traits of Writing.  We also created an art project for each writing sample.  At the end of the year, I wanted each student to have a special keepsake showcasing all of their hard work, as well as a memento reflecting on the topic we had been learning about- the challenge to "write God's story on our hearts."
Instead of just sending the work home or simply creating a writing portfolio in a folder to keep, we decided to make a bound book for each student.  There is always something special about a finished project like this that makes it more meaningful for the students.

I wanted to be able to bind together the students' five essays and five art projects with a nice cover easily and more importantly, inexpensively.  We all know that school budgets are tight and teachers spend lots of their own money on classroom set up and supplies.  It was the end of the year, so I was even more determined to do this at no cost.

Fortunately for me, a lot of people know that I am a teacher, that I am pretty creative, and that I like to find new uses for old things.  This has led to many donations of old office supplies from people over the years, so I have a nice collection built up of random things that come in quite handy.

You may not have a handy closet of random office supplies, but I hope that the books from this post inspire you to find a creative way to bind a keepsake book of your students' or kids' writing or other work.  The sense of accomplishment that comes from "publishing" is important and can give them a goal to work toward with excellence.

A few ideas:

1. Have a student created cover.  We used computers for much of the typing aspect of the project, but I liked having their handwriting preserved on the front of their books.  They used markers, crayons, etc. and I provided both full sized and scraps of construction paper.

2.  Have each student create a Table of Contents.  Our books had an average of 15-20 pages each, so organization was an important step.  The contents page helped them present an organized finished project.

3.  Consider different methods of binding.  If you are only holding together a few pages, stapling along the spine of a collection works well enough.  We had too many pages for that, so we used a variety of random report covers I had been saving.  The kids got to pick what to use and then helped with the binding.  We used a three hole punch with moveable distance punches, allowing us to accommodate the various set ups for the report covers.  Occasionally, I had to use a single hole hand punch to get through a stubborn art project, but I was grateful for the three holed punch overall.

Some of the report covers I had opened landscape and others portrait, but they all worked.  Here is an example of one of the landscape books:
And here is the inside of a portrait style:
Both were easily bound with prong style fasteners to hold the paper in.  They created a very professional finish.  The covers on those books were just glued onto the outside of the folder, which wasn't as "clean" looking, but they still turned out ok.
We also used the clear cover report folders, which were not as fancy but still pulled everything together.  One problem with these was that they were meant for 8.5"x11" paper, but most of our art projects were on 9"x12" paper.  Most of the kids just let the edges hang off, but a few used a ruler and scissors to trim them before binding.
We also had some portfolios that had these neat closures, which really lent to a finished look.
The whole thing was an easy way to create a memorable final project and a keepsake for the kids.  Individual essays almost always get thrown away, but I am hoping that most of these books are held onto for a bit longer. :)

Here are a few more covers for you to enjoy:

For more info on the rest of this specific writing project:

For more info on the art projects that we created:

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