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How to Help Students Reach Their Full Potential Using the Power of Publishing

Children are the epitome of potential. They are doctors-in-training, astronauts-to-be, actors and actresses just waiting for their first big break. They dream of the future while their parents and teachers work hard to pave the way forward and ensure those dreams will one day come true.

Everything about your career as a teacher revolves around guiding your students toward unlocking their full potential. Like many things in life, this goal may seem easier said than done—but it doesn’t have to be! Publishing a classbook full of their writing and art is the perfect class project and is surprisingly simple—and guaranteed to bring out the best in your students. Why?

It Fosters Creative Growth

It’s no secret that trying new things broadens your horizons, whether you’re six years old or turning 60. Taking on a new project—especially something as creative as publishing a classbook—encourages your students to think outside the box and come up with imaginative responses to the challenge before them. The more involved they are in the process of creating and publishing their book, the more they will enjoy it and be motivated to push themselves to create and innovate.

“I loved this idea of my class creating their own book. Not only was it getting their imagination going but it was also inspiring them to write another book and become authors. My parents in my class also had all positive comments regarding this assignment and almost all of them ordered a book for their child to keep as a memory and keepsake.”

-Kristen M., Shades Mountain Christian School, Birmingham, AL

The #proudauthors of Greenbrier Elementary School are thrilled with their newly published books!

Diving deep to explore their own creative potential and expand their boundaries also opens the door to the possibility of bringing hidden talents or interests to light. One student might discover that he truly enjoys drawing illustrations, while another might realize that she’d really like to research more about outer space. There’s no telling what they might learn about themselves along the way—and that’s what makes classbook projects so exciting.

Student Kathy remembers her 3rd grade classbook project vividly. For her, it wasn’t just a class assignment, it was an awakening. Working on a project that allowed her to try new things and have fun with her writing helped her realize how much she enjoyed making up stories. Now that she’s in high school, she writes and edits on the staff of her school’s literary magazine and plans to become a full-time travel writer someday.

It Encourages Freedom of Expression

To reach their full potential, your students need to have the confidence and freedom to not only think creatively, but to express their ideas and share them with others. Becoming published authors encourages freedom of expression, both in writing and in speech, by giving your students a safe space in which to experience both the act of creating a book and the joy of publishing it for the world to see.

“I love having a little bit of the year that can last and carry on for many years to come. I enjoy sharing the books with my classes and even with other teachers to encourage students to write and feel like real authors. The book gives them a tangible way to see and share their ideas over a broad audience.”

-Lisa S., Pomaikai Elementary School, Kahului, HI

Baker Elementary’s #proudauthors are hard at work on the illustrations for their classbook.

While honing their writing skills, a collaborative classbook project will also teach your students how to collaborate effectively and work well in teams as well as on their own. Plus, by celebrating their writing by planning a publishing party or other event involving a live reading session, you’ll also be giving your students the chance to work on their public speaking and improve their verbal communication skills. This, in turn, will empower them to be bolder and more willing to express their thoughts and opinions both now, in your classroom and in the future.

Thomas was always the shy student in the class. He rarely raised his hand to volunteer, and often hesitated to speak up—especially if the answer to a question required more than a simple “yes” or “no.” Working on a collaborative classbook with his fellow students pushed him to communicate more openly. The encouragement he received from both his classmates and his teacher helped him gain more confidence in himself, and when it came time to read their published book aloud, Thomas didn’t wait to be called on by his teacher—he volunteered.

It Teaches Responsibility and Dedication

If there’s one thing a big project like publishing a classbook teaches your students, it’s grit. Breaking down the larger, long-term goal of becoming published authors into smaller, bite-sized milestones like writing the first draft or editing and revising teaches them not only how to keep ambitious goals realistic, but how to stick to them from start to finish. It’s also the perfect way to practice time management, as they’ll need to stick to a schedule in order to hit each deadline along the way and finish their book on time (though publishing dates are flexible and can easily be changed if you do wind up needing extra time!).

“This was such an amazing opportunity for both my students and myself. My students had such a great time working on their book and even though they had so much fun, they were also learning so much! It was such an easy process to follow.”

-Jessica B., Sacred Heart School, La Grange, TX

A #proudauthor from the Shawnee Mission School District shows off his work with a smile.
Long-term projects can be challenging at times, especially for young authors who may be easily distracted at times, but the promise of eventually being published will help keep your students engaged and inspired throughout the duration of the writing process. By the time their book hits the printers, they’ll have a much better grasp of how to tackle future big projects effectively—and the grit to see those projects through.

Emma had always been a bright student, but she was also often extremely disorganized. She would lose points on what should have been A+ assignments for forgetting them at home and having to turn them in late, and often struggled to finish long response questions on tests before time was up. Working through the writing and publishing process step-by-step helped motivate her to learn better time management skills in order to meet important deadlines. Now, Emma makes sure to fill out her school agenda every week in order to keep better track of what’s due when and how much time she has to work on each assignment.

It Builds Connections

Publishing a classbook together is inherently collaborative. Whether your students only work together during one stage of the writing process or share ideas and responsibilities every step of the way, a classbook project is an excellent opportunity for them to build stronger connections with each other. This reinforces positive concepts like active listening, cooperation and trust while demonstrating how creative—and how much fun!—teamwork can be.

“Everyone has been so impressed with the books.  We showed them off to the kindergarteners, too. They thought it was so awesome how students can be REAL published authors. The students took so much pride in what they created and were so anxious to share it with their families. Can't wait for next year!”

-Danielle M., Thayne Elementary School, Thayne, WY

These #proudauthors from Iowa are working hard to finish their classbook on time!
But the potential for building connections isn’t confined to your classroom. A published classbook is meant to be shared, not just with teachers and classmates but with friends, family and whoever else might enjoy a good read. Parents and other relatives may even be in on creating the book, if the topic your class has chosen involves something like interviewing parents or grandparents about the past, or asking someone in the family about what they do for a living. Helping your students write and publish their own classbook may even inspire other classrooms to follow your good example and publish a book of their own!

Cameron remembers the day of his class’s book swap fondly. His 3rd grade class met up with a 2nd grade class down the hall to trade and read each other’s classbooks. He was proud to show off his writing, but he was surprised to find he also really enjoyed reading the other class’s book and talking with the 2nd graders about creating and publishing their project. Most of the students had never met before—a detail they’d all but forgotten by the end of the day—and many of them walked away with a new friend, Cameron included.

The Full Potential of Publishing Student Work

Your students’ personal growth and well-being may be your number one priority, but helping them reach their full potential is about much more than improving their lives on an individual level. It’s also about working toward a brighter future by showing tomorrow’s leaders and dreamers what they’re capable of.

As the Dalai Lama once wrote, “With the realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” Publishing a classbook with your students highlights their strengths and talents not just so their audience can see them, but so that your students can more clearly see themselves and their own potential and feel empowered to keep on changing the world for the better, one word at a time.

These 1st grade #proudauthors didn’t just make a published book together—they made new friends!

For more classroom resources and project inspiration, check out our online teacher’s lounge and sign up for your free classbook publishing kit!

Image sources: Lead image via Studentreasures; Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 via Twitter