Projects for teachers and students:
As I travel to schools across the nation, I am constantly amazed by the creativity and diversity of projects that students and teachers create. Here are some of my favorites. I hope they’ll inspire you and be a catalyst for your own great projects!
The Community Alphabet Book Ask students to write and illustrate an alphabet book about their town. Each page must show something unique about your town or community. For example, a town I visited in PA (Titusville), is home to The Drake Well, the very first oil well. The students did in-depth research, then wrote and illustrated about it. A helpful way to get started is to invite local experts (a local historian, a geologist, local merchants, etc.) to come in and share their knowledge. Another idea is to encourage collaboration across grade levels. One school I visited assigned third graders to the writing of the book and high school art students to creating the illustrations. It was published by the school and then sold at local town functions. The school even made a little profit!
Author & Illustrator Math Assemble a collection of books by a specific author or illustrator and create voting ballots. Voting categories might be based on favorite character, favorite illustrations, favorite story, etc. Letting students choose these can be fun. Tally the results by class, grade, or even the entire school. Create graphs and charts to quantify the results and determine similarities/differences. Which books or categories got the most votes? The least? What were the averages?
Endangered/Extinct Creature Wanted Posters Students will pick an endangered or extinct creature, and based on their own research, create posters that include pictures, information about where the creature might be found, why it’s endangered or extinct, etc. They can even add a reward for finding it!
Literacy Quilt Ask students to write letters to their favorite authors or illustrators. Send each author/illustrator a square of linen with a request to write or draw something on it and return it to the school. (Be sure to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope!) Also, describe on school letterhead how it will be used. Send out as many as possible, for not all will be returned. When you receive enough, have a quilting bee and create a permanent display for your school. Also, if possible, send the authors and illustrators a photo of the finished product.
Ceiling Tiles I have visited a number of schools where the media specialist/librarian asked the school custodian remove acoustic ceiling tiles. With their students, they chose covers of books to put into an opaque projector and trace onto the tiles. Then, with various media, students colored or painted them in. When the tiles went put back up, the overall effect was incredible! The ceilings looked like quilts of book covers! I’ve also seen art teachers do this, but instead of book covers, students recreated famous works of art. They were amazingly beautiful!