Wordstock for Teachers: Publishing as pedagogy

I still have a few crayoned, laminated, hand-bound books that I wrote in elementary school. In  many ways, the drawing and writing I did in those books was no better than the work that made it onto my mom’s fridge, or the work that cluttered my bedroom and was thrown away. But the fact that they were published means that pieces of my childhood were preserved, and that I felt a sense of legitimacy in my work, even as I was still practicing D’Nealian handwriting. Even if no one read the books, the sense of accomplishment they brought was similar to what I feel today when publishing a well-read news article or blog post, or even when I see that I’ve been “retweeted” by a stranger on Twitter.

As I mentioned in an earlier post about the future of the publishing industry, self-publishing is no longer considered a last resort for serious writers, but is becoming an increasingly legit way to share your work. This shift in thinking opens the doors for teachers and students to use new classroom publishing platforms and tools, and to share their work with increasingly wide audiences. All publishing industry issues aside, when I think of the way technology impacts publishing from a teacher’s perspective, fireworks go off. The possibilities for quality work are endless.

Classroom publishing was the theme for this fall’s Wordstock for Teachers conference in Portland, and I was fortunate to assist with a workshop conducted by the Classroom Publishing team from Ooligan Press at Portland State University. The event’s keynote speaker was Erick Gordon, formerly of the Student Press Initiative at Columbia University. Below are notes from his motivating presentation:

  • Publication is no longer for elite students only, but also for students who are at risk.
  • Publication raises the bar for all students involved in a project.
  • Explore the idea of publishing as pedagogy. Allow it to expand your ideas of what kids can accomplish.
  • Get linked up with teachers who are involved in publishing with the Student Press Initiative’s Ning.
  • “This work can set you up to really know who kids are.”

If you’re interested in the Student Press Initiative, check out the organization’s website for classroom resources and inspiring project videos.

Stay tuned, because highlights from the Ooligan Press workshop on Classroom Publishing are in the fryer.


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