It’s been over a month since I have posted! Madness! The last month of the year can be a bit hectic, so I unfortunately did not get around to my regular posts. However, I wanted to give you guys a heads up of a big project that we did to finish up the year.
So around the middle of the year, our curriculum assigned the students to complete interviews with an adult. The instructions were a bit vague, and we thought that we could use that to our advantage. I did some research and found a great project on PBLU.org, a great resource for project-based learning. The project, entitled “Back In the Day”, laid out a unit in which students interviewed family members, turned the interviews into narratives, and published a book. I took the framework and fitted it to our curriculum, tasking the students with writing about an immigration experience in their family history, as we were studying immigration in our Social Studies unit.
The process went really well. The students had to determine what kinds of questions would be important to ask and how to properly use follow-up questions. In addition, they had to figure out how they would record their information during the interview. Many students were able to utilize new technology tools, which I am always pleased by. Once they interviewed, the students had to create their introductions, narrow down the content, and check each other’s work to be sure that it met all the criteria we laid out. We (the teachers) gave some feedback, as well, and after a few weeks, each student had a great interview that they then transformed into a biographical narrative. Some students found the transition difficult, resulting in some near replicas of their interviews. Some students, however, got very creative and were able to skillfully use flashbacks and dialogue to enhance the stories.
Once the editing process was complete, we were ready to assemble our book. This was my favorite part, as it was great to see the students really get into the project. The students did almost everything. They finalized the editing, assembled the order, picked fonts and layouts, designed the cover, and even picked out the website for publishing our book. When a staff member in the office was placing the order on Lulu.com, we actually brought in one of the students to guide her through the process. All in all, it was a fantastic process.
Two weeks after placing our order, fifty copies of a great looking 100 page book came to our classroom. Each student was able to get 2 copies – one for themselves, and one for the person they interviewed. The books cost about $100 with shipping, which we found to be fairly reasonable for the satisfaction that the students received of seeing their work come together.
I plan to use the same plan next year, though I will probably work to ensure that each student is aware ahead of time how the interviews will be turned into stories. Many were about extended periods of time, like several years, which kept them from successfully becoming narratives. A few other minor tweaks will help the project go along more smoothly.
Well, it may be a while again before I post, as I quite enjoy my summers. For my avid readers (all none of you), I hope you enjoy June and July, and I will be back on a regular basis in August.