One Way to Put the “A” in STEAM – Have Your STEM Students Write a Book

Standard
Creating Student Authors ebook cover

Step-by-step how-to guide for teachers and mentors of student authors

I have been a science and engineering teacher for ten years, and I am always looking for ways to improve my students’ learning experiences. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has become a hot topic in education – we need more students majoring in STEM fields, according to many, including President Obama. Many also advocate that a richer STEM education is when Art is added to the list, making it STEAM. So how can a STEM teacher add some sort of art project  to his or her curriculum? Many of us appreciate what art can bring to any classroom, but we don’t want our students’  effort to degrade into an cut-and-paste activity or something similarly simplistic. I piloted a project for the past year, and I think it is one option that can work well and is far from simplistic: Have your students write a book about their STEM experience.

I started the project last May by talking with a few outstanding science students who were each pursuing some sort of independent research. They were at the end of their sophomore year, and I asked them how they would like it if I guided them through the process to write and self-publish a book about their research experience. I had just self-published my first book, so I was familiar with all the steps required to bring a book to publication. They all agreed, and we started. We followed a Project Schedule I laid out. We also followed the steps of an author hoping to traditionally publish, writing to a target audience and going through several phases of editing and revising. We set a goal to publish by this April, and all three of the students that have stayed on the project are close to meeting that goal. The first to publish, Jennifer Lee Schwartz, released her book last week: On the Right Track: A Student’s Memoir of Research, Advancement, and Holding on to Hope. The other two students will be releasing their books soon.

The experience these students have gained by writing their own books is both broad and deep. Over the past year, along with actually writing a book, they have learned how to write a book proposal, work in a writing critique circle, coordinate with beta readers, copy editors, and cover designers, and blog about their book project. They also attended a writers conference, and they set up a booth to explain their project at our state science teachers conference. In the end, these students have learned a deep lesson in how to communicate about STEM. Along the way, I documented our steps and the checklists, templates, and other resources we used. All of this is available in my book: Creating Student Authors: How to Mentor Any Student to Be a Self-Published Author. Let me know if you plan to do this project in your school – I would be happy to help in any way I can.

My next post will be about my students’ experiences publishing their books.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by June 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Advertisements

Helping Student Authors Get Published – Copy Editing Options

Standard
Image courtesy of www.proofreading.ca

Image courtesy of http://www.proofreading.ca

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.

My students are nearing the end of a nine month process to produce their books. They have gotten excellent feedback from beta readers, and they are using those inputs to produce their final drafts. Now they need to make their books professional looking by getting them properly copy edited. We discussed using a commercial copy editing service, but for different reasons, the students did not want to go that route. What other options are there?

One option is not bother with copy editing. Many self published authors go this route, as they believe they can do the final editing themselves. This is a bad option. As any writer knows, the more you look at your own draft, the harder it is to see any mistakes. Even if your attention to detail is excellent, it is unlikely you will catch all of the errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, let alone other errors in formatting, as required by the Chicago Manual of Style, the copy editing bible.

Another option that my students are pursuing is to get another writer’s help to do the copy editing. We had attended a local writers’ conference in the fall, and my students met several writers–some professional, and some in college pursuing a writing major. My students followed up with these writers, and some have helped with beta reviews, and some with copy editing. These writers are highly qualified to do this work, and I expect their copy edits to be professional quality.

Our last step to get ready for publication will be to hold a session to do a final review, then format our books for publication on Amazon. Even with good copy editing, there will be formatting that needs to be done to make a paperback, then to make an ebook. You can use my Self Publishing Checklist for Amazon as a resource to do these last formatting changes.

My next post will be more about the preparation for publication release.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.

Student Authors Need to Market Their Books Before Publication–Both Online and In Person

Standard

Publishing goalIn 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.

My students are waiting on beta reader feedback right now—they aren’t writing or working on their books, so this is the perfect time to do some preliminary marketing. Click on Marketing Checklist for Authors to get a full list of things you can do. I have already shared about how my students are blogging. Another way to market a book is the more traditional route of using in person events. Student authors may naturally gravitate to blogging and using social media, but they should also learn to do a well-planned live event.

Live events that are feasible and appropriate for students include in-school promotions or presentations of their book projects, presentations to other schools in the district, book promotions at a local bookstore, or book presentations at local conferences. I have taken all of my students to a local writers conference, and I took three of them to the Connecticut Science Teachers Association annual conference. At both events, my students dressed up and had flyers and business cards to hand out as they pitched their books. This type of experience is valuable and applicable to many career fields.

Our next planned live event is a joint promotion with our high school’s literary journal club in the cafeteria during lunch. The goal is to generate interest and curiosity in other students. It is free and relatively easy to set up this type of promotion. The most important thing is for students to be prepared. Working jointly with the literary journal club also gives my students a chance to share their writing experiences with other student writers. Please share your thoughts about any similar projects you have done by commenting on this post.

Next week, my post will share the feedback we are getting from beta readers, as it comes in.

Subscribe to this blog at https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com to get email updates of my posts with weekly tips you can use in your classroom as I describe how I am mentoring six high school science students to become published authors by April 2015. Also, please give me your feedback, and please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.