Students want to take an active role in their world. They want to be involved in real things and have their voices heard. Creative projects offer students a platform to engage with their world and make statements, have the opportunity to present to real audiences, draw reactions, and gain feedback from those audiences as well.
In my 8th grade English Language Arts classroom students read short stories and texts around the topic of identity. After reading a handful of short stories from authors like Sandra Cisneros, Toni Cade Bambara, Esmerelda Santiago, Gary Soto, and Amy Tan, to name a few. After our close reading, analysis, and reflections students do some exploration and research into their identity and diverse cultures. Students are provided with a choice board to select a culminating writing assignment that is compiled in an anthology with Book Creator.
When students know that they have the opportunity to make a statement that will be heard, it can bring a highly focusing, motivating, and potentially satisfying aspect to learning. Each of the activities on the choice board results in the student producing an authentic learning product curated in a class anthology. Choice boards embrace student voice, choice, and agency.
Student Authors with Book Creator
A key focus of our active learning and critical thinking classroom is that the student produces as part of the
learning experience. As students create their learning products, they are researching, communicating, writing, speaking and listening. To showcase our creative works students writing is compiled in a class anthology using Book Creator. Book Creator helps facilitate the sharing process and collaboration is easy when students add their writing to our class anthology. Students know their finished products will be shared with their families and the school community and this makes a meaningful learning experience.
This unit and activities are meant to celebrate students’ diverse cultures and heritage. When students share their photos, memoirs, and dishes they can begin to appreciate all the richness in all of our cultures and can find similarities among us. This helps to help create an classroom and school environment where students feel their voices and stories matter.