Students returned on August 25 for the 2021-2022 school year. I can feel it flying by already! As with anything these days, there have been complications to lesson planning, figuring out middle schoolers (this is my first year as a middle school teacher in my twentieth year as a teacher), and just navigating all the protocols and quarantines, etc. But, I can very honestly say that I was overwhelmed and elated a few days into the year. I love the kids and all their quirks. They are funny, fun, and tough to motivate, but I’m excited to get to work. The first weekend after school started, I was on the phone with my sister relaying some of the first week’s ups and downs.
My sister: “How’s your year going so far?”
Me: “Good, I’m getting the hang of middle school. I’m really excited about my creative writing class. I sort of feel like I’m making it up as I go but I really hope to work toward publishing with them more than anything else.”
My sister: “Have you thought about doing author bios? I tried that with students, and it was a big hit. Kids love that it is a short piece, and it has an immediate purpose.”
Me: “That’s a fantastic idea! I’ll do it next week.”
My sister’s idea got my wheels turning, and I knew it would be a great time to focus on the students as authors–right from the start.
My creative writing class is a mix of seventh and eighth-grade students. It is an elective class, meaning some kids chose the course, and some were placed there. Not everyone is a fan of writing, but I think I’m twisting arms, figuratively, of course.
After seeking out resources, setting up a few slides, a video lesson, and examples–I had the basics ready.
I hope you can take what I’ve started and tweak it to work for your writers too! In the past, with younger writers, I always did an about the author page as more of an afterthought. If I had it to do over again, I would try this out sooner, no matter what age.
Below is the embedded Google Slide presentation of how I introduced this work to students. There is a video on slide one for the students working from home. Feel free to use the video, or make your own to fit your needs better.
What are some exciting lessons you have tried out this year? Share your excitement for teaching. It is the best part of our job.
4 thoughts on “Starting with Publishing in Mind: About the Author”
I’ve been thinking about this strategy of starting with the author bio, trying to name why I love it so much. I think it’s because it positively presupposes that all kids are writers from the start–no need to “prove it” first by completing a particular writing task or assignment. Thank you so much for sharing, Betsy! I can’t wait to try this.
What, what, what??? I had already planned to do this next week as we prepare to publish our first pieces- I cannot wait to take on some of your ideas! Thanks!
Lynne Dorfman was the first person who encouraged me to have kids do an “About the Author” for all of their writing pieces. It’s such a wonderful way to honor children and the work they do as writers.
I love this idea! First of all, it’s always great to have a prompt that kids can respond to with some ease. But what I *really* love about it is how well it underscores the idea that our students ARE authors, and they are well within their right to see themselves as writers. Yes!
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