In this blog, I am sharing how I am mentoring a group of high school science students to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April 2015 with the goal of selling 500 copies by the end of the school year.
Expect anything to happen when mentoring students to become authors. A quiet student may explode with creativity and come up with a unique idea for a book. A promising student may get overwhelmed by other schoolwork and have to drop out of the project. As a teacher, you just have to be patient and encouraging with a project like this. The students will blossom in unexpected ways, and the overall results will be amazing.
I began this project by approaching three students who I knew were involved with science research in one way or another, and I proposed that they write books about their research. They recruited three more. One had to drop out due to other demands. When we first met, I gave them my expectations. I suggested a general approach for writing their books, emphasizing that I was teaching them the mechanics of writing and publishing, but they had to create the book. I envisioned them creating five books about their research projects. Instead, the students developed different ideas for their books. One is working on a children’s book about the true nature of sharks, one on a critique of modern science education, one on a reflection of her experience with cancer, one on the dichotomy of being an artist and a scientist, and one on a novel for young adults about genetics. They all involve science, but in various ways I never imagined.
To mentor this group, I am also creating a book and doing everything I am asking them to do. I am doing each step before they do it so that my work serves as a teaching example. This also gives me a good perspective on the difficulty involved in the various steps toward publication. We meet when we have a milestone completed, and this has been working well. All of these students are involved in many activities, so they don’t need another set of weekly club-like meetings. I also email them a couple times per week with information or advice as I think it is helpful or timely. We have a schedule that we are using as a guide, and so far it has been fairly accurate. I also have compiled resources to help them, such as checklists and templates. Everything I have done is only to make the mechanics of writing and publishing accessible to these students. They are using this information to create an incredibly unique set of books.
Next week, I will feature my students’ blogs and discuss their book ideas in more detail.
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