“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Student Treasures really are treasures!

This spring our school received a fax advertising Student Treasures publishing.  I scanned the text and thought to myself "I could do this for our kindergarten reading buddies!".  My grade 6 gifted class had been working with the kindergarten classes in our school all year.  The students had excellent rapport and were such a joy to watch reading together.  I had done some basic student publishing in my classroom in previous years and had paid out my own pocket to have the student books published...to the tune of almost $600.00.  Let's just say I could NOT afford to do that again!  My students publish a yearly poetry anthology with a company called Twiceachild in Toronto and they do an awesome job, for a reasonable price.($10.00 Cdn. per book) but I also knew I could not ask my students to pay TWICE this year for student publishing. 
I did some on line research into Studentreasures but could not find much about it's use in Canada.  I showed the fax to my principal and she was sceptical (as was I) that the program could be FREE.  I emailed the customer service department, and I asked for the two free books they will send out to any school who requests them.  The customer service department assured me that there was NO charge in having these beautiful hardcover books made for our students.  I received the two hard cover samples and was really impressed so I talked to the kindergarten teachers.  I asked them how they would feel about making a CLASS book for each kindergarten class.  They agreed to participate as long as I took the lead.  I also spoke to my grade 6 class about making an INDIVIDUAL book for each "reading buddy", even though some of students had more than 1 reading buddy.  I had 22 students this year and our kindergarten grew to over 40 after the school year started.  The students were all enthusiastic!
Samples of the kits they sent to the school.

I placed an order with Studentreasures for two classroom books and for over 40 individual books.  We waited awhile for the kits to come, and in the meantime, I had the students in my class talk to and research what their reading buddies liked in a book.  Each student in my class paid attention to the likes and dislikes of the kindergarten students, and started to create some ideas for individual books.

When the kits arrived, we broke our time into two distinct foci's.  One was on working WITH the kindergarten students to have them write and publish their own CLASS book.  Each of my students worked with their reading buddy (ies) and helped them to write a response to the prompt: In Kindergarten....
Each kindergarten student authored their own page and illustrated it too using Crayola markers.  The grade 6 students were there to support and assist their buddies at each step in the process.  Two students in my classroom created the fantastic covers for the books (Thank you Sophia and Doris...you are both amazing artists) and I assembled all the pages for each book into the kit envelopes.

The next job was to write the stories for each of the kindergarten buddies.  My students worked super hard on completing high quality stories in a really, really short amount of time.  As it took some time to receive the kits from the U.S., the students only had a week to complete the project.  Some students were writing the same book for more than one buddy, others were writing different books for more than one buddy!  I was amazed at how hard my students worked.  Looking back now, I wish I had told them more vocally how proud I was of their dedication!    The students completed the books which averaged 7 pages of text (typed) and 7 pages of detailed, colourful pictures.  They also completed a dedication page and an inner liner page.  All the students worked together to meet the crazy deadline had given them.  I had to have the kits returned via UPS by June 4th in order for the books to be published and returned to our school on time to give them as gifts the last week of June.
I feverishly packed all the kits into the return box and sent them off via UPS on the designated day (well actually a day late....I really did try!) 

We waited for weeks for our books to be returned and we almost didn't make it!  There was some sort of mix up at customs and the packages spent over a week being rerouted via UPS all across the States and Canada.  We finally received the shipment and let me tell you I was thrilled, the students in my class were thrilled, the kindergarten teachers were thrilled, and best of all the kindergarten students were overwhelmed!  Not only did they get a classbook published with their own work in it, but they each got a hard cover book to KEEP and enjoy reading over and over.  My students took pride in presenting the books to their buddies, and they each read their story aloud to the kindies.  Then Doris and Sophia read the class books to each class respectively.  I was so thrilled, I still get goosebumps thinking about it.  What a special moment! 
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Not our books, but they do look like this. 

Below you can see some pictures of my students sharing their "treasures" with their kindergarten reading buddies.

Here is one of my students sharing his published book with his reading buddy!
Each student in my class wrote an individualized book for their reading buddy.

They all loved sharing their special books with each other!

Some of my students had several reading buddies and wrote a book for each of them!

My students were really proud of the work they produced and the reading buddies loved having a book "just for me"!