May 29, 2013

Creating Picture Books with Kids: Requesting Outside Feedback and Creating the Final Product

Today I return to the topic of "Writing Fraction Stories for First Graders," a project I originally introduced in March. This week I will summarize the final feedback loop the students participated in, as well as the process for creating the final product. 

For the final feedback loop, the student authors requested outside feedback from classroom peers who were not involved in the picture book-writing project. To prepare for this process, all of the students received a "mini" revision workshop. This workshop summarized the key points the student authors learned about revision during the project (this was a review for the student authors, but it was new information for some of their peers who would be giving them feedback). It was emphasized that it would likely be difficult to receive feedback on something that had been so long in the making, but than an outside perspective was an important part of the writing process. 

After the revision workshop, each student author met with a small group of classroom peers to receive feedback about their draft picture books. It was very impressive to see how mature the students were about listening, asking questions and considering alternatives. 

One of the student discoveries was that it can also be difficult to give feedback. The students in this role took their jobs seriously and made excellent suggestions. Student authors received feedback about words/sentences that were confusing or too long, pictures that did fully align with the words, and ideas that could be added or cut. It was a great learning experience for all involved. 

The next step in the process was for student authors to consider and incorporate the feedback they'd received, and then create the final product. Each student received a blank, bound book (lined or unlined, their preference), that was purchased through a teachers' supply store. Their task was to transfer their final, revised text and illustrations to their blank books. 

Here are the instructions students received: 

*Plan how you're going to use the pages available BEFORE writing anything in the book.

*The first page should be the title page. (NOTE: Many students had fun with this, and also created a copyright page and dedications, etc).  

*If your story is short enough, the first page spread after the title page can just be pictures (but this really has to be planned out, because for longer stories, all of the available pages will be needed).

*If you bungle up a page, you can re-do that page on the immediate next page (and an adult will later help you remove the bad page with an exacto knife or scissors…), however, an important note is that if your goof is on the left side of a page spread, you will also need to redo the "back" side of that page (i.e. the right side of the immediately preceding page spread). (NOTE: Many of the students had at least one "oops" that had to be corrected in this manner).  

*It's okay that the last few pages of each book will be blank. Those pages can be used to write 'The End' or to do an ending illustration, or those pages can be cut out before the books are shared with buddies, or just left blank. (NOTE: Some students had fun with the ending pages of their books, too, creating "guest logs" for their readers to write in their names and/or "author notes" and other backmatter. Students were very clever and creative). 

Here are some "action shots" of students busy at work on their books: 

Stay tuned. In my final post for this series, I'll share the final products and share the experience of the young authors participating in an "author visit" to their first grade buddy class.  

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