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Collier’s students become published authors

Freshmen at Discovery Middle School soon will be published authors.

Each semester, Patricia Collier’s freshman composition class writes and illustrates a fictional story with kits from Student Treasures in Topeka, Kan. Collier returns their finished work for publishing in a hardbound book.

“The books are actually full-fledged narrative stories,” Collier said.

“This project is wonderful because all age groups and abilities can take part. My own son, now in sixth grade, has written books with my class since he was in third grade,” Collier said.

After discussing genres of fiction and non-fiction, Collier’s students selected their own topics. They built storyboards to sketch the story’s events and added dialogue to their rough drafts.

“The story must be fully developed from beginning to end,” Collier said. Students completed peer edits and subsequent revisions at least three times. Collier requires hand-drawn illustrations.

Collier’s ELL (English Language Learner) students write stories in their native languages and then translate into English. “Peers love to see the different languages written,” she said.

In “The Break Down,” an advanced student wrote, “Approaching the school, John takes a deep breath … He can’t stand all of the fighting, drama and things going on in him.”

Collier said a student with average grades wrote “You’d Never Know”: “Sarah was a sophomore … and didn’t have any friends. Most kids at school … made fun of her because she was Asian.”

In “The Four Seasons of my Consciousness,” an ELL student wrote, “The sticky humidity still hung like a thick veil on the early evening.”

Students struggling academically write shorter but fully developed stories, like “Runaway Monkey”: “An ordinary day at the circus … cotton candy, kids crying and laughing, clowns clowning, dancers dance, trapeze artists swinging through the air like Spiderman.”

The students receive free copies of the hardback book and “take the pride in having a genuine audience for their writing. Every student experiences success and self-pride when they receive the published book,” she said.

“This is a memento they can keep for the rest of their lives,” Collier said.

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