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School District Five students write, illustrate books

Irmo, SC – Students in Mrs. Lesley Snyder’s seventh grade English and Language Arts class at Dutch Fork Middle School have taken on a big project that will promote reading and literacy among School District Five elementary school students.

“We were studying narrative techniques and themes and my students were knocking it out of the water, so I challenged them with creating a picture book via Google Slides for their own selected age group of elementary school students,” Snyder said.

Snyder shared the assignment on Twitter to see if elementary teachers in the district would be interested in sharing the books with their students and she received a positive response.

“I feel like the authentic audience piece was really huge and was overwhelming at first to some students,” Snyder said. “The students realized that their work would be seen by more than just me and their classmates. It has motivated my students to work harder than maybe they might have if they were just given the assignment and then asked to just turn it in to me.”

Seventh grader Carson Murphy said, “I was nervous, scared and excited all at once when we got the assignment because I didn’t want my book not to be good and have the little kids see it and not be impressed. I am so excited to be able to inspire younger students with my story.”

Seventh grader Ava Schoolmeester added, “My book was about protecting marine life by not throwing plastic into the ocean or on the beach. We encourage the kids to pick trash off the beach and recycle it.”

The students are not only writing the stories and creating the themes, but they are also creating all of the pictures to go with their stories.

Seventh grader Deanna White said creating the pictures was her favorite part of the assignment,

“Making the pictures challenged us to not use a Google image but to make our own pictures. Some people drew their pictures on paper and then took a picture with their Chromebooks and uploaded it to their stories, but my group used a website called Google Drawings and we used a tool called Polyline and traced out Google images and made our own images out of those,” White said.

Students are also providing feedback to their classmates on each book to help ensure that the theme is well represented and the pictures and dialogue accurately reflect the story.

“It has been really cool watching them grow from creating a basic plot line to really incorporating good moves that writers make,” Snyder said. “I think oftentimes in schools we spend a lot of time focused on instructional writing and they don’t often get to experience and explore their creative side and so I hope they develop a love for both reading and writing during this assignment because they are writing like a reader and reading like a writer.”

Once the students have reviewed all of their feedback and made revisions and any other changes to their assignment, the books will be printed in color, bound and shipped inner office mail to elementary schools in the district. The elementary school teachers will read the books with their students and the students will provide theme statements about the books. The statements will be shared with Snyder’s class.

Dutch Fork Middle School principal Venon Sava said, “Mrs. Snyder works hard to reach all students and is dedicated to developing relationships with students that allow her to truly understand their interests. She uses this information to enhance her class, making the learning more engaging and relevant. Her innovative approach towards strategies and personal reflection of data and progress, helps her to maximize the growth and achievement of her students.”

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