Tag Archives: Education

Four reasons why teachers should write books

This is an updated post that I guest posted over at AJ Cosmo’s blog.  Check my interview I did with him a year ago.

I am a teacher.  I think more teachers should write books.  They just should.

Cats.  Internet.  I win.

Cats. Internet. I win.

Here are four reasons why.

 

1)      Writing a book is hard

 good-writing-is-hard-work

 

Even in this new world of indie publishing, with the gatekeepers falling away, completing a book is still hard.  I have seen teachers tell me they have an idea for a book, but as time moves along-no book.

A colleague told me she always wanted to write a book, but she had no idea of what to write.  Another one apparently started, but never finished because the illustrator was an unpaid family friend who didn’t complete the work.  So the project was abandoned.

Finishing a book is hard.

Which is exactly why it needs to be done.  When you finish such a difficult task students will look at you differently as a teacher.  Your colleagues will look at you differently.  Your boss will look at you differently-with more respect.

 

2)      You will inspire your students

 

This past year I taught fifth grade.  After sharing illustrations and rough drafts with my students, they all were inspired to write their own books in class.  During literacy station time, a lot of students spent time creating illustrations and writing their own stories.

There was a whole series about Zompires in my classroom.  What is a Zompire?  Why the combination of a zombie and a vampire. Apparently zompires don’t eat your brains, they just suck your blood.  But you need garlic and to cut their heads off to stop them.  I liked reading about Zompires.  I would actually have to remind students to work on other projects outside of making books.  I had a whole chart up in my room about it.  Too much book writing, nice problem to have as a teacher.

As a side, I teach in a high poverty school with a lot of English language learners.  These aren’t students with lots of books in their house.

See my link about my first fan fiction.

 

3)      You will bring added value to your career

 

I taught first grade for several years.  In Virginia, the fifth graders are tested in writing.  I published a book.  Boom.  I got moved to fifth grade.

Moving from first to fifth was a challenge.  But I enjoyed the challenge.  Having experience at first and fifth brings me a lot of value.

Teachers teach read reading and writing.  With a book a teacher will bring credibility to their lessons, students and colleagues will respect you more.

When you write a book, BAM!, you’re an expert.

School administrators need experts in their buildings and their classrooms.  Write a fiction or a nonfiction book, doesn’t matter, put it out in Kindle and paperback format and you are now an expert.  You’re an author.  You’re officially different.  And different in a very good way.

4)      You will experience a tear in the space-time continuum

Space time continum

What! You say?  Stay with me.

Early in the year I ordered classroom copies of two of my books, Kevin and the Three-headed Alien, and Dolbin School for the Extraordinary, and put them in my class library.  The students competed on who would read each book first.

During one lesson, the students were to get out a book we were reading.  One student was reading one of my books.  He didn’t put my book away.  I instructed him again to put away other books and get the book we were working on.  He still didn’t comply.  He was more interested in reading my book.  I was so confused.  The writer in me jumped for joy.  The teacher in me was frustrated.  My body was split in two over the meta-physical problem that was occurring right in front of me.  Seriously.  Who has this problem?

Who has students who would rather read books written by their teacher, as opposed to books the school system tells them to read?  I do.  I have that problem.

I love having that problem.

I want you to have that problem as well.

 

P.S.
One of my books Dolbin School for the Extraordinary is free for a couple of more days.  Check it out.

P.P.S. Join my mailing list to be the first to know when my new picture book comes out.

Teachers Should Write More Books

I know that several of you that follow this blog are teachers.  I also know from talking with you online and in person several of you are trying to write your own books.  And several of you have just thought about writing books.  If you have just thought about making a book but can’t think of an idea.  Get over it, start writing ,and make a book.  It will make you a better teacher.

Write a book just to see it here.  Trust me.  (P.S. image not from  my school library)

Write a book just to see it here. Trust me. (P.S. image not from my school library)

After years of teaching first grade, I was moved this year to teach fifth grade.  I was surprised that several of my students did not know about my Kevin books, because the first one is in our school library and it was mentioned on the school announcements.  I know.  How do they not know!
So recently I brought in a copy of Kevin and the Three-headed Alien, and I wrote the book with third graders in mind, but these 5th graders were competing to read one of the copies I brought to class.  A lesson learned is that in can be very hard to narrow a children’s book to a very specific age group.

Three-Headed Alien Paperback-1
My class asked if everyone could get a copy.  What a wonderful request.  A request that I cannot afford.  (Some how people seem to think I get the books for free.  Cheaper? Yes.  Free? No.) But with two copies in the class students have a waiting list to read the book.  You are missing out if you never experience that as a teacher.

To alleviate stress in the class I changed my lesson plan, (don’t tell my admin) and did a shared reading lesson on my own book.  I read the first chapters and the students made connections with the text.  They made personal connections with the text and made connections with other texts.
As a writer this is unbelievable access to how your market is connecting with your work. As a teacher I have engaged my students more. Now they are creating their own books in class. One student told me they were going to upload their book to Amazon. Engaging your students and inspiring them to create their own work is why more teachers should be writing.

P.S. I have another book out soon.  It would be great if you joined my mailing list.  If you are on the list you will get news of the new book first.  Don’t worry I don’t spam, I am too busy.  Click here to join the list.  Thanks!

P.P.S.

Seriously, people go write those books.

Indie Publishing a book as a writing assignment

By day I teach first grade, I don’t teach high school.  But I had this thought, could publishing a book be a good assignment for class?  Teacher’s rightfully check and grade student writing.  But once in the real world waiting for one person to grade us doesn’t really work, especially if you are a writer.  Writers, and other creative projects for that matter, are graded on how they are received by hundreds or thousands of readers and fans.  Not exactly the same sort of model presented in a classroom where one teacher tells you weather or not your book or writing works.  One person left a 3 star review of my book on Amazon saying that the story I wrote was boringly written, and that if I had I taken her class she would given me a C+.  Fair enough.  But I’m not in her class.

I got plenty of these in my lifetime.

I got plenty of these in my lifetime.

Other people have liked the book, does that make their feedback any less correct or worthy because they may or may not teach a class?

So I didn’t please the reviewer.

But the review got me thinking about grading and gatekeepers.  I know, a strange combination.

In the working world, if writing was their job, students could be in a situation where pleasing just one person, i.e. a boss.

But pleasing just one person isn’t where the 21st century is headed.  Students will need to know how to relate to hundreds or thousands of different people.

Trying to please many different unknown bosses, i.e. readers, is a much more difficult challenge.  How do you know what thousands of people will like and want to read?  It maybe easier to please just one person.

Here’s why I think it would be an interesting idea for an assignment.

1. The students are creating.

2. The students are writing.

3. The students should be communiating with others to edit and proof their work.

4. Students should be showing good digital citizenship by marketing their book.

We need to prepare students to relate to large groups of people and not just one person.  How can we do that?  Thoughts?

Whoops. I wrote a book.

I wrote a book.  I am still surprised that.

Kevin and the Seven Lions

As Steve Martin once said something like “I always wanted to be considered an author, so I figured I needed to write a book.”

Thoughts are always better when it is attributed to someone more famous than you.

But let’s not get too crazy, it’s a 1100 word picture book.  The illustrations, which I didn’t do, are better than my writing.

But my little side project project has surprised me.  People told me they liked the book.  I thought people would pat me on the head and say “isn’t that cute.”  But they didn’t, they asked questions instead about how I did it.  I got asked a lot.  So I did a very 21st century thing and began a blog.

By day I teach, or I try to teach first graders.  And trying to teach for the 21st century is still a very anxious thought process.

But I will attempt to show how writing and publishing your own book, and education for the 21st century are connected.

I haven’t completely figured it out yet.  Luckily this is a blog.