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.
How should a physics and engineering teacher like me instruct students in how to write a book? I gave the reasons why I am doing this project in a previous post. I have been learning about the self-publishing process over the past year, as I published my first book and marketed it. This did not make me an expert, but it gave me a new perspective that I could share with students. Besides this experience, we are networking with writers in our community to give the students other perspectives on writing and publishing.
But back to the main question – how should a science teacher like me teach students this process of writing and publishing? I decided to give the students wide latitude on creativity, while giving them more detailed guidance on deadlines and expected outcomes. To start them off, I had two meetings with them before the summer break where we discussed ideas for books and the importance of writing to a target audience. For the summer, I gave them the assignment to write a first draft of the book, due mid-August. We are starting to review these drafts now. To help them save time and concentrate on the creative aspect of writing, I gave the students a book template that was formatted as a paperback book, ready for publishing. All they had to do was type over the text. Since the whole point of this project was to learn to communicate effectively about science through a book, learning the intricacies of formatting a book, as required in the Chicago Manual of Style, was not high on my list of learning objectives. Providing the students a template saved them valuable time to do what was most important.
Throughout this project, I will show other ways that you can mentor students in the creative process of producing a book, while giving them supports that keep the project from being too daunting and time consuming. If you would like to see or use the template, click Book Template for Students to download it. It was based on the template provided at the “Tools and Resources” link on the website for APE (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur): How to Publish a Book, by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. I had used this book as my primary guide in writing and publishing my first book, and I recommend it.
Next week, my post will have a tip on organizing students into a writing critique group.
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