PUBLISHING – A plethora of possibilities
I have to state from the beginning that I am greatly concerned by what has happened to the publishing of student writing in many schools. Like fast food it has become standardized. A one size fits all mentality often applies to the publishing phase of the writing process. Yes, it is time consuming, but publishing presents a powerful mechanism for motivating students to continue reading and writing.Publishing should not be every student publishing their writing at the same time in exactly the same way. Publishing should allow students a strong sense of ownership over a host of decisions regarding the shape and form of the final product of their writing efforts. I think that for some teachers 'publishing' becomes a beast that needs to be controlled. This need to control is what ultimately stifles creativity and results in a pie factory outcome. Lets get back to giving our writers some options and a sense of ownership about publishing. Running concurrently with these options we need to be ready to provide resources, advice and support for their efforts.
While the majority of writing undertaken by students will remain ‘unpublished’ it is important for students to identify a piece of writing they wish to lift from their notebook entries and polish towards publication. It is very easy to linger too long in the notebook- to get caught up in the cycle of continually adding entries without developing one special piece. When we allow this to happen opportunities to redraft, revise and eventually edit are lost. These are critical places for real learning to take place.
Let’s face it, writers need an audience for their words. The greatest feedback any writer can receive is to experience the reader’s response. When the reader is emotionally moved, informed or entertained, the writer is affirmed. Writers not receiving opportunities to share their writing with an audience, is similar to an actor who rehearses for a play that never gets performed. Publishing makes all the planning, drafting and revising worth it!
So, we need to build into our schedule, frequent opportunities for students to experience the full range of options that publishing offers. Let’s allow students to delve into publishing in ways that allow their individual preferences to shine through.
Apart from displaying published pieces on bulletin boards you can feature writing across grades. You may be able to feature student writing in newsletters, within the neighbourhood, and in writing competitions. You could host author parties and book launches. You could develop displays that highlight aspects of writing such as leads, endings, character descriptions. You could publish poetry anthologies, class books, magazines, plays. You could provide digital story telling opportunities.
Every child should be given the opportunity to publish in book form. What an achievement it is for a student to experience the joy of publishing their very own book. –A book that can be added to the classroom library.