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.
Mentoring a group of high school students is always challenging, but also rewarding. In setting up this project last spring, I gave the students a Project Schedule to meet with the understanding that we could change milestones as we progressed. With about two thirds of the time gone by, I can tell what worked and what did not work out as planned. If you plan to do a similar project, this assessment could be helpful to you.
What worked as planned? The basic approach we have followed and the time given for each stage of the project have been about right. Also, having the students draft their books over the summer was definitely the best way to do this, as they have very little time for the project during the school year. I think the only other way that they could find the time to write during the school year would be if the project was part of a class. We are doing the project outside of class as an extracurricular activity, and the students are already overloaded with other activities. Finding time to do anything extra is a huge challenge.
What has not worked as planned? The biggest challenge I am seeing with the students is to find the time to finalize their draft books after the beta reader feedback and to prepare their books for copy editing. These tasks require hours of careful line by line analysis of the text. I had hoped for them to do this over the winter break, but the students were too busy. I tried to hold an after school meeting, but it was unproductive. What I need to do is to dedicate a day off from school, say on a Saturday, and do a detailed self edit of our texts to incorporate the beta reader feedback and prepare the texts for copy editing. In order to meet our goal of publishing the books this April, we must get the copy editing done no later than March. Given that my students are all about to take their mid-year exams, we cannot begin this process until the end of January, leaving February and March to finish. I think we will make the deadline, and I had planned extra time in the schedule. When I do this project again, however, I will plan a weekend retreat for this final editing process.
My next post will be more about the preparation for publication release.
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