This website is a dream come true for teachers and educational professionals. There are endless ways in which this site can be used within the classroom to promote literacy. This site not only encourages the use of technology in the classroom, it is student driven and fosters the use of creativity and inventiveness in accordance with curriculum outcomes.
The Publish It website can be used to satisfy a variety of outcomes and classroom needs if used wisely. It can be used to reinforce classroom procedures, codes of conduct, and safety rules. It can be used to practice different styles of writing such as reflective pieces, expository pieces, argumentative, narrative, comparative and creative pieces, including poetry, plays, and short stories. Teachers can use the website with students to focus on fictional vs. non-fictional work. It can even be used to teach multiple subjects simultaneously helping teachers to efficiently meet a high number of outcomes. This site can be used as a form of assistive technology for ELL students, students following IPPS or who have behavioural and/or cognitive/motor delays. It is incredibly versatile and can accommodate themed work nicely. Lastly and simply put, this site is fun. It offers students an appealing alternative to traditional pencil and paper methods of literacy development.
Keep in mind that the majority of these lessons can be done in school, depending on the availability of technological resources,, they can be assigned for homework, or simply suggested to parents as a way of supporting their child’s learning at home. In any case, lessons can be adapted and modified to suit your various teaching needs for lower and upper students alike. Whether as a classwide project or an individual assignment these lesson ideas are intended as a starting point to help inspire creativity.
The following list provides sample ideas and lesson plans to help you get started.
(Lessons can be adapted for upper elementary students)
· Feelings: Have students write a book about the different sorts of feelings people experience. Include some reasons why people feel the way they do to help students make real world connections. Take pictures of your students pretending to be angry, excited, shy, happy, and sad to upload and use in their Publish It books. This activity can be done individually or as a group.
· Safety Tips: Encourage students to write a book outlining all the safety rules that they know. Take pictures of students demonstrating each rule that they choose to write about. Students could write about playground safety, safety while playing sports, field trip safety, etc. to be more specific. Print a copy of the book for each student so they can have their very own personal handbook.
· Classroom Procedures:
Write a book as a class-wide project dealing with classroom rules and procedures. Take pictures of students engaging in targeted behaviors and routines for the book. When completed, give each student a copy for his/her desk.
- Write a series of books with the students in your class about a particular character that creates a lot of mischief. Each story could outline one major rule or classroom procedure that students must follow.
- Write a book with the class outlining pro-social behaviours such as taking turns, sharing, listening, and waiting patiently. The class could write a simple list of appropriate behaviours or a fictional story.
- Take some time to write about each season as is passes. The class could write a poem about whichever season they are studying. Take the class outside and have them photograph all that represents the season. This book may take awhile to write, but it will be well worth the effort!
- This activity can be modified so that its focus is on sentence writing or paragraph writing rather than on poetry.
· ‘How to… books’:
- Have students write a ‘how to make’ book, such as how to make mud pies, how to make forts, how to make pancakes, how to make cookies, how to make a craft, etc.
- Have students write a ‘how to play book.’ Some ideas include how to play cards, How to play hockey, how to play make believe games, how to play Monopoly, how to play ___________, (a game that they have invented themselves).
- Other ‘how to’ books include how to fix a birdhouse, how to take care of a pet, how to keep healthy, how to show someone you care about them, how to ride a bike, how to take care of the Earth, how to add/subtract.
· ‘All About…Books’: Have students each choose a topic that appeals to them. Give them some topic suggestions for guidance such as, ‘All About me, All About Wolves, All About my Pet Cat, All About My Family, All About Courage, All About Friendship, All about Love, All About Canada, All About Pokémon, etc. Allowing students to write a book on a topic of their choosing will help motivate them to complete their work.
· All About Me: This is a fun and relatively easy lesson idea. Have students reflect on who they are. Then have them introduce who they are by writing a book all about themselves. Brainstorm with the class about what kind of information is important such as name, age, place of birth, family, hobbies, favourite food, etc. Allow students to bring in photos to scan and upload onto the Publish It template. Once completed students can take turns reading their books aloud to the class. You may want to conclude this activity with a discussion on appropriate times and places to share personal information.
· My Favourite Things: Instruct students to write a book about all their favourite things. Favourite things can include activities, games, crafts, people, places, toys, books, food, and sports. They can draw pictures to be scanned or they can take pictures of their favourite things using a digital camera.
· Life Cycles of Different species: This is a cross-curricular lesson for it meets both science and language arts outcomes. Have students study the life cycle of a frog or butterfly for example and then write about it using the Publish It tool. Take pictures of real organisms or simply have students draw the different stages to be scanned and uploaded into their books.
· Counting books:
- This is yet another cross-curricular lesson, combining Language Arts and Mathematics. Students can create their very own counting books. Primary students can work with smaller numbers whereas as older students can work with much larger numbers. Have students take pictures of the objects they are counting for their books.
- If you are feeling especially ambitious, have students explore base ten materials while adding and subtracting three and four digit numbers. Have students solve a problem explicitly by writing out each step as well as photographing their base ten blocks as they go. This activity will help to strengthen students’ understanding of the base ten numeration system. It can also accommodate multiplication and division using the base 10 materials as well.
· Spelling Books: Have students write a silly story using a list of designated spelling words. The publish It tool will help students become increasingly familiar with commonly used words as they grow.
· Things That are Red: Young children may enjoy writing about their favourite colours. For Fun, assign a different colour to each student in the class and tell them to write a book about their colour. Each page could have a picture of something that is red, for example, with its name and a description.
· Readers Theater: Depending on what time of year it is, or what is currently being studied, have the class write a short play together themed accordingly. This lesson can be adapted as a classwide project or an individual activity. It may prove more fruitful an endeavor to write the play together, practice it, and then perform it for another class.
· Songbook: Have each student write a song or recopy one of their favourite children’s songs to make a class songbook. The class could make a special circle time to sing these songs.
· Days of the Week: Have students learn the days of the week by writing a silly story. Read a couple of Eric Carle books to the class such as ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ or ‘Today is Monday’ to inspire them.
· Themed stories: Depending on what’s being studied, challenge students to do some creative writing.
- Have students write their own fairy tale beginning with, ‘Once Upon A Time…
- Or get them to write their own fable (i.e. The Hungry Crocodile).
- Students might enjoy writing their own myth (Why Monkeys Have Long Tails, Why Elephants Have Long Noses).
- Have students write their own nursery rhymes.
· Responsibility: Write a book with the class answering the following questions: What does it mean to be responsible? What are the ways in which children need to be responsible (i.e. telling the truth, cleaning up their own messes, sharing, reporting vs. tattling)? Take photos of students demonstrating responsible behaviours.
· Alphabet book: Have students write their very own alphabet book by taking a picture of objects that begin with all 26 letters of the alphabet. Because there is limited space in the Publish It book, students will need to fit multiple letters on each page. Students can be creative and write a poem or a song to go along with their alphabet book.
· I Spy Book: Instruct students how to create an I Spy Book. Have them design elaborate settings with numerous miscellaneous objects. Students must take a picture of each setting and write an “I spy with my little eye” sentence to go with each page. Their sentences must give other children hints as to what to look for on each page.
· Arts and Crafts: Although the Publish It tool serves to support developing literacy skills, it also allows students’ to express themselves artistically. In addition to writing, children can explore any number of art mediums to create images for their book. Students will become adept photographers as they snap real life images of actors dressed in costume, pictures of sculpted clay figurines, puppets, and crayon drawings. The Publish It tool creates opportunities for students to work on multiple skills at once.
(Lessons can be adapted for lower elementary students)
· Portfolios: The portfolio is an ongoing project that students work on consistently throughout the school year. At the end of each term, have students choose their best-written work to recreate in their portfolios. Make sure to scan or photograph any accompanying artwork. Instruct students that the work they choose will be graded and given a final mark so they much choose wisely. Give them the opportunity to explain their choices, for it may help you to understand their thought process. This assignment is designed to not only support literacy skills, but to encourage independence, self-reflection and self-assessment as well.
· Pen Pal Book Swap: Match each student with a pen pal from another school. Next, instruct students to write an autobiographical book to send to their pen pals and in response their pen pals will return the favor. Assign this project at the start of the school year and your students will be occupy themselves writing books all year long!
· Cross Curricular Ideas:
– Science: Instruct students to do an experiment at home or in class and then have them write a book about it. Some things to include are: an introduction, a list of materials, a hypothesis, step-by-step procedure, the outcome, a conclusion, as well as photos. The entire class could write a series of ‘Mad About Science’ books to donate to the library, to keep in class, or to sell at fundraisers for the school. (Hot air Rises! Document the planting and growth of a seed, electrical circuits, egg in a bottle, constructing weather instruments, objects that float and sink, experimenting with magnets, and magic mud).
– Social Studies: Brainstorm with the class to write and perform a reader’s theater about an Acadian family. Perhaps students can adapt a fictional story they have read or write their own. Other topics that students could write about are the Aboriginals, the pioneers, historical events such as the Halifax Explosion, the Deportation of the Acadians, the Treaty of Utrecht, life while living at the Fortress of Louisbourg, or historical figures and local heroes.
– Students could write an ‘All About’ book about local land formations. Have each student choose a land formation found in Nova Scotia, such as the beach, the forest, the ocean, marshland, field, etc. and instruct them to do research and write a book on it. They should include a description of land and physical features, the climate, the species of plants and animals found therein, as well as evidence of human impact.
– Other ‘All About’ books may be about geography, history, space, geology, and ancient civilizations, etc.
– Health: Have students write about important safety measures when playing sports!
– Explore the human body with the class by doing research and writing about it. Have each student write about a different body part, (brain, heart, lungs, nervous system, circulatory system, eyes, stomach, etc.). When completed, students can exchange books to learn from each other.
– Math: An interesting way to develop numeracy skills is to explore numeration from different cultural perspectives. Have students research and write about a different numeration system including information such as what it looks like and how it works. Finally, instruct students to explain how this numeration system helps them to understand their own base ten numeration system. (You could suggest researching Roman numerals, Chinese Numeration, Ancient Egyptian numeration, and African Numeration systems, for example),
· Timelines: Have students create a timeline that surveys a number of pivotal events in their lives, (starting school, the arrival of a new sibling, moving to a new home, getting a new pet, etc.). Students will need to brainstorm events ahead of time. Timelines should be chronological and should include a couple of future events. This will allow students to start thinking creatively about their own potential. Students can bring in old photos to be scanned or they can draw pictures to represent different events.
· Time Capsule: An idea for a class project is to make a time capsule at the beginning of the year. Each student must be responsible for completing one book about himself or herself. They should write about their goals for the school year, their favourite things, current events in the local news, highlights of the summer, their dreams and aspirations, the book they are currently reading, etc. Put all the books into a box, seal it, and store it away until the last day of school. To start the brainstorm process, ask students to think about what they would like their future selves to know about their current selves.
- To simplify this activity, have the class write one book together. Designate 1 page per student and have them each choose a different topic to write about. Depending on the size of your class you will have to put together 2-3 Publish It books.
· Yearbook: Similar to the time capsule, the yearbook is a project that the whole class can get involved with. Start this project during the last term. It will make for a lovely souvenir for students to take home on the last day of school. Appoint jobs in the class such as researcher, journalist, photographer, interviewer, recorder, and reporter to make this a memorable activity! Each student is responsible for writing 1-2 pages. They must write both an autobiographical caption as well as about an extra topic. Note that the yearbook may not fit into one book. You may have to write 2-3 books in order to complete the yearbook.
· Creative Writing Prompts: If you are ever stuck with a spare thirty minutes of language Arts time, have students begin writing the rough draft of a Publish It book inspired by writing prompt. For example:
- Santa is stuck in the chimney…what are you going to do?
- You find a dusty old lamp and decide to rub it clean. All of a sudden, a genie pops out…
- Your scientist grandmother asks you to test out her new time travelling machine…
- On the way home from school…
- What would you do if you woke up one morning and could fly?
- If you were deserted on a desert island, what three things would you like to have with you?
- If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
- Imagine you are the fly on the wall, watching the world around you. What do you see?
- Describe the colour red, without using the word red.
- What would happen if children ruled the world?
· Poetry Book: Get the class to write a book of poetry during April, National Poetry Month. Include examples of all your students’ best work that represent the different forms of poetry you have studied, such as haiku, acrostic, ballads, limericks, etc. Once published, print a book for each student. Books could also be sold to fundraise for class trips or special events.
· Fiction vs. Non-fiction books: Using photographs to support written work creates a great opportunity to discuss non-fiction writing with your class. Have each student write a non-fiction book on a topic of their choosing. Make sure to discuss elements of non-fiction writing, such as facts, the index, the glossary, table of contents, style and prose beforehand. Make sure students take pictures that compliment their writing rather than pictures that confuse the reader. Some topics for non-fiction writing include:
- ‘All About…Books’: Have students each choose a topic that appeals to them. Give them some topic suggestions for guidance such as, ‘All About me, All About Wolves, All About my Pet Cat, All About My Family, All About Courage, All About Friendship, All about Love, All About Canada, All About Pokémon, etc. Allowing students to write a book on a topic of their choosing will help motivate them to complete their work.
- What every kid should know about ________________: Similar to the ‘All About Books,” students could write about a subject they feel is important to share with their classmates. Provide students with a list of topics to choose from such as ‘Where our food comes from, Water- a limited resource, Planting trees, Animal shelters, Recycling, Dangers of smoking, etc. Or simply give students freedom to choose whatever topic they want. Students can either take pictures or scan pieces of artwork for their books.
- “How to…” Books: Have students write a ‘how to make’ book, such as how to make mud pies, how to make forts, how to make pancakes, how to make cookies, how to make a craft, etc.
· Student’s guide to ______________ Elementary School: Have the class organize and create a guidebook for new students entering school, parents, and visitors. Such a guidebook might include a list of school policies and procedures, rules and regulations, code of conduct, contact information, information about the administration and faculty, schedule of events, cafeteria menu, history of the school, and any other pertinent information.
· Dream Book: Explain to students the importance of thinking about the future, setting goals, and working hard to meet objectives. Have them write a book about their own dreams and aspirations. Teach students how to write sentences in jot form. Have them write a story about their future selves, or simply have them write an essay style piece about their goals. Add photos or draw pictures for colour.
· Book Buddies: Match an upper elementary class with a lower one, pairing book buddies. Have the older students write a book using the Publish It tool for a younger student that is just learning to read. Have the younger student write a book to read with their older partner as well. Partners can read their books together or better yet, work on writing their books together.
· There is no ‘I’ in TEAM: Lead this lesson with a discussion on teamwork. What are some examples of different kinds of teams? What does it mean to be on a team? What are the benefits of being on a team? Have students write a book about a team that they belong to. Teams can include bully smart clubs, a student’s family, clean up crew, sports teams, etc.
· Tongue Twisters: Have the class write a book of silly tongue twisters together. Begin by getting students to write 2-3 tongue twisters each on their own. Once all the tongue twisters are completed, choose the top 10 class favourites by vote. Act out the chosen tongue twisters and take photos to upload into the book.
· Test Taking anxiety: If you notice that your students experience work related anxiety such as test taking anxiety, take the time to write a book, brainstorming effective coping skills, proper study habits, ways to prepare for a test, etc. Once published, print a copy of the book for each student that requests one. Similar books can be written dealing with other forms of anxiety as well, such as social anxiety.
· Specialty teachers: Music teachers, Phys. ed. teachers.
- Phys. Ed. teachers can write books outlining the rules and guidelines of different sports. Assign a Publish It book to students who are sick or injured and cannot participate in class activities. Add photos of students playing each sport to make the books more appealing.
- Music teachers can also find uses for the Publish It website. Assign a research project whereby students must do research and write a book about a composer from a historical period. Another idea is to write a book to help teach students about musical theory and concepts. Finally, write a songbook comprised of each class’ favourites.