Submitted by Jennifer Troester of O’Neill Public Schools
The writing process is a major focus for 8th grade English students at O’Neill Junior/Senior High School. Teachers Jennifer Troester and Katie Morrow believe in having an audience for their students’ writing when they are finished with a piece and want to “publish” it. Each student has his or her own blog with a collection of writing created over the school year. It is an online portfolio of their writing, and they are amazed when they see that people from all over the globe are reading their pieces. These personal blogs are connected to a class blog. Each day a couple of students are assigned to write a summary about what happened throughout the day. Daily bloggers give an account what happened in English class as well as a reflection of what is happening in other classes or major events at OHS.
The knowledge that others will read their writing raises students’ level of consciousness about what they put in print. Not only will their teachers read it, but people all over the world could lay eyes on it. This makes the writing process come to life when students feel like real authors with an audience. 8th grade teachers Jennifer Troester & Katie Morrow look for opportunities to give students a real audience beyond their blogs. Students publish books for upper elementary students about a science or social studies concept learned in order to understand non-fiction text structure, and they also write for different contests over the school year in addition to giving a persuasive speech for their classmates.
Troester & Morrow decided to create another outlet for student writing after entering a contest called “Patriot’s Pen” where students created essays on what Patriotism means to them. Students created original works and added images and interactives to their writing for the book. This was collected through Google Drive and assembled in iBooks Author. Students made the decision to sell their book for $ .99 and donate all proceeds to Nebraska Troop Support. This organization was started by Beth Tielke, a local resident of O’Neill. Students hope their iBook reaches a wide audience who will read their writing and also support a worthwhile cause.
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