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A Labor of Love: Because My Students’ Lives and Experiences Matter

yearbook cover

Last year one of my fifth graders, Lauren, wrote a persuasive letter to a very large yearbook company’s CEO asking him to give our class yearbooks. She successfully persuaded him to discount the price of a full-color yearbook for the entire class (the kids paid $15 and the company picked up the rest of the cost, which was substantial). I worked with six of my students, The Yearbook Committee, to produce a digital masterpiece. In the end, the kids had a wonderful memento of their fifth grade year, as did I.

This year a persuasive letter of the same nature wasn’t written, which was fine by me. However, as the months went on, I decided to create a yearbook for my kids, on my own, using Picaboo. I just got the final product last night, which I paid $29.99 for. I’m using that as a master and I’m duplicating each page, in color, for each of my students. I’m going to bind them at Staples tonight and will hopefully have them back by Monday so that the kids have a four days to sign each other’s yearbooks before the end of the school year.

The amount of paper and ink I’ve gone through is unreal. (Thank goodness I had a substantial amount of ink left from a mini-grant proposal I wrote a few months ago.) I haven’t even gotten to the cutting trimming of all of the pages I’ve duplicated (that fun starts in about an hour).
Rotary Trimmer/Paper Cutter The copies I made during the day at school
However, even though it’s going to be a LOT of work, I think it’s worth it since the memories inside of this yearbook are worth preserving. It’s kind of like the sentiment/spiel I echo to my kids with regard to their writer’s notebooks: “Your life is worth writing about. No one else is like you. No one else has the same experiences as you. Therefore, you have to write about your life each and every day.”

I guess that’s why I documented my students’ year so closely. No one else has had a year like the one we had together in our classroom. It’s worth preserving, no matter how much paper, ink, or time is spent.

UPDATED at 10:56 p.m.:
Here are two more photos. The one on the left is an in-process shot once I trimmed everything down to size. The photo on the right is a shot of the stack of yearbooks that have to be bound.
32 Pages! The Stack

Stacey Shubitz View All

I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.

I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).

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