Publishing student writing encourages the reluctant writer, strengthens kids' self-confidence, rewards interest, and promotes a positive attitude toward literature. If your school is like most, however, you lack an easy and effective way of publishing your students' work. Now, help is as close as a mouse click away! Today, Education World writer Glori Chaika explores opportunities to publish student writing -- and teacher writing -- on the Web.
What do an Olympic competitor and a successful writer have in common? Practice! Lots and lots of practice. Both people need to learn skills and master a form. Talent is important, but practice creates the solid base that allows that talent to soar.
Like athletes, writers learn by doing. Good writing requires the same kind of dedicated practice that athletes put in. Young writers often lack the support they need to practice writing and develop their talent to the fullest, though. They find it hard to receive validation for their work. Feedback provided in English class might not produce the same sense of self-worth that being published produces. Many schools lack adequate facilities to publish students' work, however.
The Internet can fill that void. Help can be as close as a mouse click away. A number of Web sites publish work created by students. Today, Education World investigates some of those sites.
"If they are old enough to pick up a pencil and write or a crayon and color, I will put it on my site," Christina Lewis told Education World. Lewis is creator and president of the KidsBookshelf. KidsBookshelf publishes original book reviews, poems, and short stories of no more than 1,000 words.
KidsBookshelf also publishes teachers' and parents' original projects, recipes, book reviews, poems, and short stories written for children; games and activities; and many authors' and illustrators' addresses so kids can write to them.
Monthly poetry and short story contests on KidsBookshelf reward writers with $15 gift certificates for books. What a nice incentive!
Do your students need writing help? At the Scholastic.com Writing With Writers Web site, students can e-mail their work to professional writers, who will comment on it.
"Pull up a chair, this Web site is for you and me," invites the opening text on Super Web World. "I know a Web site sounds like a place for spiders, but this one is a place for you to read about writing, think about writing ... " Before your students realize what's happening to them, they're hooked on the site!
Do you find creating rubrics to grade writing difficult? Would you like some help teaching poetry? This site offers help for teachers. Anyone from six to 106 who has an inkling of interest in writing could spend hours here.
Perhaps the most attractive part of the Poetry.com Web site is the top bar -- inviting entries for a $1,000 poetry contest! With an opportunity like that, who needs a lot of color and graphics? Poetry.com publishes every student-written poem submitted that's 20 lines or less. Poems may have no more than 70 characters per line. Age is not a criteria. Poets 18 and younger compete for $1,000 monthly prizes. Adults compete for $1,000 awards, $5,000 awards, and book contracts. Each year, an annual $10,000 grand prize is awarded. Interested?
The Starlite Caf accepts all poetry. Poets of any age can choose color, font, and background for their text. Users can also include a feature that enables readers to rate their poems. Poets can create online portfolios of all of their poetry, and the site tallies the number of people who read each poem. "New material is being added every minute!" editor Albert Victor told Education World. "I never expected the site to grow as much as it has. Right now, we're averaging from 500 to 600 new poems a day." Starlite Caf also links to tons of other Web publishing sites.
White Barn Press hosts a writing club for students in grades K-12 and provides an audience for their poems or stories. "The minute kids think their work will be published, they take greater pride in the result," editor Susan Meyer told Education World. Meyer also welcomes contributions from teachers. She'll publish tips or writing rubrics that might help other teachers improve student writing. "In the fall, we will begin a Writing Teachers Journal -- a diary page where teachers talk about their day-to-day successes and challenges related to teaching writing," she added.
With the profusion of computers in classrooms and libraries, students can take a much bigger role in the editing, illustrating, and posting process if they publish on the Web, continued Meyer. "As teachers become more computer literate, [publishing on the Web] will become a natural extension of learning," Meyer told Education World. "For teachers already publishing student work in book format, Web [publishing] is the next frontier."
Primarily for writers 17 and younger, Writers' Window tries "to publish all material submitted," advisor Anne Given told Education World. In addition to publishing stories, poems, and research; the site accepts book, TV, and movie reviews. It also encourages feedback. Through this site, students from all over the world can help one another improve their writing.
Article by Glori Chaika
Copyright© 2005 Education World
Originally published 08/09/2000