When to Get Science Students Started Writing a Book

Standard

Tip#1In this blog I am sharing how I am guiding six high school science students who agreed to try to write and publish a book about their science research experiences by April 2015. My purpose is to share this book writing experience with other educators so you can do a similar project in your school. Because this was the first time I have tried, or even heard of this type of project, I first talked to a few students who I knew would be up to the challenge. They recruited more students, and I ended up with six who were volunteering to try this idea. The goal was for each student to publish a book by April 2015, and sell at least 500 copies by the end of the school year, achieving about five to ten times the sales of a typical first-time self-published book. I gave the students this goal to make them understand from the start that this was not a vanity publishing effort, just writing a book for their own pleasure, but a true publishing endeavor to reach a large audience.

TIP #1: When is a good time to start this kind of project? Start late in the school year so that the students are ready to begin writing during the summer break. Students (and teachers) are too busy during the school year to do a project like this on top of all their other activities. Before the school year ended, we met a couple times, first to ensure the students understood the project, and then to give them a clear plan on how to proceed. See the Project Schedule for an overview of our plan. This timing gave me and the students the whole summer to write a first draft of our books and to plan our marketing. This approach gave the students what they need to concentrate on the creative part of writing, while I showed them the technical details on how to publish and market their work. Once the school year starts this fall, we will only need to work in short bursts, either to edit and revise our drafts between reviews, or to send out biweekly blog posts. One thing I did not do, but would recommend, is to partner with other departments in your school, such as the English teachers, to get them on board with the project – they could be a big help with reviews. I will start doing this after the summer break, but would have liked to have started with them earlier. Next week, you will get a tip on drafting a book proposal, the first step in writing a book.

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.

 

Why Teach Science Students to Write and Publish Books?

Standard

Science Students in ProgramsAs a science and engineering teacher, promoting STEM education, why would I want to teach students how to write and publish a book? Don’t I have enough to do in mentoring them in STEM activities? Well, yes, and in the photo here are some of the groups I have mentored in the past several years. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in the whole person concept – students are not just interested in STEM, or in literature, or in art, but most are interested in all these subjects to some degree.

Our education system is also getting away from strict specialization and moving more toward a holistic education. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) promote literacy in science, combining the concepts of scientific knowledge with the ability to communicate. One of my sons is going to attend Boston University’s engineering school this fall, and they have trademarked the idea of the “Societal Engineer,” advocating that engineers have a wider focus than just the technical problem at hand. For all these reasons, teaching science students to clearly communicate their science research through a book seemed very appropriate. Given my recent experience in self publishing a book, I knew I could mentor them through the process.

How did the students react when I approached them with the idea for this project? They were excited and eager to begin! I asked them to focus on a target audience as one of the first steps, and they came up with a very diverse set – one is appealing to children, another to cancer patients and their friends and families, another to school administrators, and a couple of them to fellow students, but each with a different message. We will work together so that the students can mutually share ideas and get feedback. I will be writing along with them to document our experience and provide a comprehensive guide to other teachers who would like to do the same type of project.

Next month, I will be blogging about the realities and challenges of publishing a book and what I am doing to shepherd my students through the process so that they can get right to work without wasting time figuring out which of the myriad of options to choose. For the general schedule we are following, go to https://bryanholmesstem.wordpress.com/project-schedule/.

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 April 2015. Also, please share blog posts with other teachers or anyone who may benefit.