Fresh Ideas for Publishing Student Writing

fresh-ideas-for-teachers-roommom

Students can always write or type on a plain piece of paper for their writing, but what is fun about that? If you want student writers to really feel proud of something they wrote, publish it on special paper or in a unique way. It makes the writing stand out and look fresh. Ignite students’ interest in their writing by showing them how professional their writing can be.

native-american-magazines

One of my favorite ways to publish student writing is on glossy brochure paper like THIS ONE by HP that has the same texture as a magazine. The printed product has a quality finish to it that makes it seem as if we went to a professional publisher to print. I won’t even make teacher marks on the paper when grading! It’s that special. We recently completed a magazine article style writing project, but you could complete any style of writing. To see more about the magazine feature article activity, CLICK HERE.

state-brochure-samples-with-letters dsc_1484

Another fun paper option is a cardstock weight tri-fold brochure paper like THIS ONE. The paper is pre-scored, so when you are ready to fold, it bends into 3 even sections every time. I opt for the matte finish on this one, but the tri-fold paper is available in glossy finish too. We created state brochures that we folded and mailed to our school alum. The final product looked like a real mass mailing from a legitimate business. We were all impressed.

narnia map and journal sample

If you don’t have access to a color printer (or any printer), antiquing paper can be fun. I usually have students type their writing and choose an old-fashioned looking font. We print with a laser jet printer (ink-jet will smear later) and then stain the paper with wet tea bags. If you do not have a printer, or you would prefer that the students hand write the assignment, you can stain the paper first and have students write by hand after the paper dries. For full directions about staining paper, CLICK HERE.

For more fresh ideas, click the logos in the picture below.

 

Cinnamon's Classroom Amy Mezni Kirsten's Kaboodle ELA Buffett Mrs. Russell's Room The Room Mom Study All Knight Brittany Washburn Miss Stefany Meredith Anderson Image HTML map generator

Interested in winning a Fujifilm Instax camera with 2 film packs?

Instax or Polaroid type cameras are a great FRESH tool for any classroom. CLICK HERE to enter our Rafflecopter Giveaway. Giveaway ends Thursday, 1/19/17 at midnight. Open to U.S. residents only.

Native American Magazines

native-american-magazines

I love culminating projects that wrap lots of skills together in a tidy finished product. Before the holidays, my students finished our Native American unit with a research project focused on one aspect of a Native American group from a specific region. They presented the information in a magazine style feature article. The project checked off a lot of boxes for me. Research skills (check). Technology skills (check). Expository writing (check). Non-fiction text features (check). Really cool looking writing piece printed on fancy paper (check).

wampum-magazine

The students started the project by reviewing their textbook, readings, and graphic organizer notes for the different regions and tribes we studied as a group and chose a favorite area on which to focus. I had multiple topics ranging from the Inuit and igloo building to the Navajo and turquoise jewelry to the Iroquois and the game of lacrosse. Once students selected a topic, they generated three sub-topics that guided their research. I had the students use THIS ORGANIZER to help focus their reading and note taking.

Once students gathered information and were ready to begin writing the magazine style article. We looked at many professional writing samples in various magazines targeted at children in upper elementary grades (Kids Discover, American Girl, Muse, National Geographic for Kids, Boys’ Life…). Specifically, we looked at the titles of the feature articles, the first sentences in each article, and the layout of the page.

sample hook sentences from magazines

We spent one class period using THIS ACTIVITY PAGE and writing first sentences from several articles. The students met in groups to compare first sentences and determine what the sentences might have in common. The idea was for students to replicate a good “hook” sentence in their own article. Some key ideas emerged. Many opening sentences contained an unusual fact or an idea that grabbed our attention. All of the sentences used interesting vocabulary. We also noticed that the length of the sentence varied– we found short and long sentences that were effective.

lacrosse-magazine

To create the article, students used MSPublisher documents. Each person started by setting up a text box and changing the formatting to two columns. Each article was three paragraphs long matching the three sub-topic boxes in the notes organizer page. After typing the article, the students inserted a fancy header and developed a catchy title and sub-title, added images with captions, and chose a colorful background. Finally, I purchased shiny paper that felt the same as magazine paper, so the printed masterpiece really looked like a true magazine article. We were all impressed with the quality of the final product and are ready to write for a real publisher.

To see another activity idea for non-fiction text features CLICK HERE. To see my Native American teacher resources, CLICK HERE to visit my TpT store.

Facebook Character Activity

facebook-group-samples

A few years ago, my students designed a Facebook page for a favorite character in the book, Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise. I was surprised how much critical thinking was involved. The students needed to pick a significant scene from the story, summarize it from the point of view of a character in the form of a Facebook post, and then respond to the post from the point of view of a different character.

facebook-sample-jack

It was challenging for students to think about one story event from several angles. The finished writing activity reveals quite a bit about a student’s understanding of events in the story, character traits, and character interactions and motivations. It is a short activity but packed with reading skills, and the results are completely entertaining! It also had the bonus of incorporating technology skills since my students completed the Facebook page digitally.

facebook-page-samples

I recently assigned the activity again, and it did not disappoint. My students were in three separate reading groups this time around, but all students completed the Facebook page based on a character from their assigned book. It is such an easy activity to adapt to any novel study.

facebook-pp-template

In my classroom, I inserted the blank FACEBOOK TEMPLATE that I designed as a background in a PowerPoint slide and then added text boxes as placeholders on top of the background. I shared the template with my students, and they clicked in the text boxes to add their writing. They also inserted pictures, used bullet points, and changed font sizes (potentially tricky technology skills for 4th graders).

facebook-sample-post-seymour

For younger students or classrooms/homes without computer or printer access, the activity could be handwritten using THE TEMPLATE. The basic Facebook page with the text box outlines can be printed, and students draw profile pictures and neatly write posts, likes, and replies.

facebook-sample-post-jack

The samples above are related to the novels, Dying to Meet You, Love That Dog, and Hate That Cat. Complete novel units are available for purchase in my teacher store. Click the book names to see more details about the novel studies.

DIY Flashcard Pouch

flashcard-pouch-with-flashcards

Almost every teacher I know has the uncanny ability to take common household supplies and turn them into some sort of classroom supply. I do not go to the extremes of some of the teachers that I know, but I will admit, I get the DIY classroom supply itch now and again.

Over the past few years, I manufactured DIY Ziploc flashcard pouches for back to school. Using quart-sized Ziploc bags and some duct tape, I make a pouch that clips into student binders to hold loose materials. At the beginning of the year, I give each student a pouch to hold vocabulary and grammar flashcard rings in their binders. The pouches also work well for math facts flashcards, sight word flashcards, username/PW information for school apps, and a variety of other everyday classroom items.

flashcard-pouch-materials

Materials

  • quart-sized Ziploc bags (go for heavy duty, so they don’t rip before the end of the school year)
  • duct tape in a fun color/pattern (I like Duck tape brand that has the crazy patterns)
  • single hole punch
  • sharp scissors
  • one piece of notebook paper to measure the distance to punch holes

diy-flashcard-pouch-in-binder

Directions

  • Put one Ziploc bag on a flat surface, front of the bag facing up.
  • Eyeball the length of a piece of duct tape that reaches from the bottom of the Ziploc bag to the “collar” or area where the bag snaps together.

flashcard-pouch-duck-tape-strip

  • Cut the length of duct tape you need and place the duct tape on the flat surface, sticky side up.
  • Place Ziploc bag on top of the sticky side of the duct tape only covering half of the width of the tape strip.

flashcard-pouch-duckt-tape-strip-folded

  • Fold the remaining exposed part of the duct tape strip over the top of the plastic bag, so the left edge is covered with a strip of duct tape.
  • Hold the notebook paper with the bottom two holes over the duct taped edge of the bag. Line up the bottom of the piece of notebook paper with the bottom edge of the Ziploc bag.

flashcard-pouch-hole-punch

  • Hole punch two holes into the Ziploc bag.
  • Clip into binder.

 

Mini Books

mini books 2

As most all teachers do over the summer, I have been tinkering with student materials (when I should be catching up with missed doctors’ appointments and bathroom cleaning and dog hair vacuuming– or even enjoying a day at the pool). I want a student-made dictionary style resource for commonly misspelled words for my students next year. Ideally, the spelling notes will be in some kind of individual booklet that each student could add to all year. I may have found a solution– a sturdy little mini foldable booklet.

I called in my temp help to see if the booklets would work, and team RoomMom has been printing, cutting, folding, and testing all day.

mini books materials

Materials

  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ white cardstock OR 4×6 notecards
  • scissors
  • rubberband (medium sized)
  • paper cutter with ruler guidelines

Directions

  • If you are using an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of cardstock, cut it in half horizontally and vertically, so you have 4 pieces of cardstock that are 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″. Fold each piece of cardstock in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 5 1/2″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

mini books divide paper

  • If you are using notecards, fold 2+ notecards in half the “hamburger” way making sure the corners line up neatly. That means the 6″ side would be folded. Press down firmly along the fold.

spelling mini books folded

  • Once each card is folded, stack the cards on top of each other lining them up evenly. I think 3-4 cards is about the right amount for each booklet. You can use a combination of notecards and cardstock. ** Make sure your sizes match if you are mixing cardstock and notecards.
  • Following the center fold, cut a 1/2″ notch from the top and bottom edge of the stack of cards.

mini books cut knotch

  • Wrap a rubberband around the stack of cards. Have the rubberband sit down into the cut sections of paper to act as the mini book binding. If the rubberband is too tight and pulling on the paper, cut your notches a little deeper.

mini books rubberband

  • Decorate the cover and add notes, drawings, information, doodles… to each page of the booklet.

mini books sampleUses

  • I set up a template in Word and inserted the spelling information I needed. I printed front and back, cut down the paper, and folded the pieces into the booklet. There is space for students to add additional notes, but they will each have a starter booklet.

spelling mini books notes

  • Mr. Star Wars wrote a personal narrative about our trip to North Carolina last summer. Using the Word document template, we inserted pictures and printed the pages (it takes a little spatial thinking to get your pictures on the pages in the order you want when you assemble the booklet). He handwrote the story using the printed pictures as enhancement. This would be a great back to school activity. Students could use a blank booklet and write and illustrate a story about something they did over the summer. You could also use the booklet as a way to assess summer reading by having students create a book review in a mini book.
  • mini books sample 2Miss Priss used her booklet to report facts about elephants. This was an end of year project for her. She took her researched information, grouped it by topic, and wrote bulleted facts on each page.

mini book elephantThe spelling mini book template with pre-printed notes for 31 tricky words like there, their, and they’re is now available in my Commonly Misspelled Words product at my teacher store. CLICK HERE to purchase.