Friday, March 20, 2009

Week 5

As usual, I'm a little late on updating about my class, but this post will be somewhat anticipatory anyway because most of the action will be taking place this coming Wed.

Last week I went into class with the intention of 1. finalizing plans for the anthologies the students will be creating and 2. making sure everyone was finished with their diary/letter projects and covers for these pieces so that they could all be in the anthology. The plans were to ask the students in each group what "team name" they wanted for the cover of their anthologies and how they wanted the cover to look, and then to get as many stories as possible from them so that I can make photocopies that they can bind together in class (I got some little plastic binder/publisher things).

My first class had only one student this week because others could either not leave their regular class or were not there that day (the class only has 4 students even when they are all present so it's not unusual for the first class to be quiet). The one student who was there finished her diary and together we worked out a plan for the morning group's anthology. One of the other students in that class is great at doing illustrations so I asked that word be passed along so that she could draw something for the anthology cover. I really think it will be valuable for these students to have a nice finished "published" project to bring home, especially since they already have spent last semester writing for my class. It mixes things up I think.

The afternoon class was more eventful. They were very excited about the idea of a team name (we spent the first 15 minutes of class brainstorming ideas on the board... they had lots of great suggestions but we decided on an anagram made up of each student's initials in a single word). They were so excited about the idea of the anthology that they started thinking of other ideas: an "about the author" blurb for each student, etc. I encouraged all students who wanted to do this to go ahead (but only if they were done with their piece already)... it's good in terms of timing too because I want to wait for all the students to be done with their stories so that they can all be included in the anthology, but at the same time I don't want the students who are done to be bored. However, for those who were finished with their story, their cover, AND their about the author blurb, I assigned a short challenge piece: write a short story from the point of view of a super hero, but one who has a fatal-- and secret-- flaw (ie Spiderman is actually blind and he doesn't want anyone to know but he keeps swinging into buildings and stuff).

Anyway, by the end of the afternoon class, we had come up with these -ambitious- plans for the cover of the anthology: next week I will bring a camera into class and we'll take a picture of each of the students dressed up as their story's main character (I asked them to bring their own costumes/small props in... it should be interesting, as the characters range from serial killers to video game nerd to a squid with anger management issues). I will then take the pictures and make a cover layout online that includes all of these "characters," as well as their team name, etc. Hopefully this all comes together seamlessly... its basically contingent upon all of the students having finished projects for me next week so that I can make copies of everything and the following week they can bind their anthologies and start a new project (if time permits).

This anthology thing has been a learning experience... it's definitely a lot more leg work than just coming up with topics and reading what students turn in, but as I said before, I think it would be great for these students to come out of this workshop with a concrete, professional-looking piece. One of my afternoon kids even asked if we could submit the finished project to be published... I told her I would be happy to give her the names of some publishing companies if she wanted to give it a try, so long as all the students agree they want their work submitted. But I also told her she should try some middle school writing contests instead because they may get some attention-- and even prizes-- from those sources.

Okay that's enough for today... I'll let everyone know how this whole business turns out next week.

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