Writing is my FAVORITE subject area to teach. I look forward to this special time every day. The surprising thing is, so do my students! I love hearing the cheers that come from my students when I say to meet me on the rug for writing time. In my school district, we encourage students to move through the writing process (immersion, generating ideas, collecting, selecting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) with the use of grade-appropriate mentor texts. Students come out of our writing workshops as creative and talented authors. I always make sure to use the term authors in order to give my students a sense of importance when they are writing.
At the end of our last unit in our writing workshop program, nonfiction books modeled after some popular children’s authors, we have a publishing party. A publishing party is the opportunity for students to share their work with their peers and special guests. Here are some tips to host your own publishing party! Trust me, it’s a lot of work but so worth it! My past students always reminisce about our publishing parties.
- Making Invitations: Who to Invite and How
I try to make this party all about my students, therefore the students decide who to invite. They often choose to invite adults in the building who helped them with their book such as the school librarian or computer specialist. They also always want to invite the principal; I mean who wouldn’t? The students make the invitations with the date, time, and description of the event which they then hand deliver to our guests. We always invite at least one other class to our party. There are advantages to inviting older classes as well as inviting younger classes. When you invite younger classes to see your work, your class can be role-models and my second graders love trying to teach the first graders all about nonfiction and being authors. On the other hand, when you invite older students you’re giving your class the opportunity to “show off” in front of students they look up to. At my latest publishing party, we invited a fifth-grade class and I overheard one fifth grader remark, “Wow, I didn’t even know what a glossary was until I was in like fourth grade.” and I immediately saw my second grader perk up. It was heart-warming.
- Setting Up: Practice and Routine
Whenever you’re inviting people into your classroom, you want things to run as smoothly as possible. In order to do this, I recommend practicing routines for the publishing party at least one day ahead. I put students into groups of about four or five. Anything larger and you lose your audience, anything smaller and groups might be finished too early. Groups are spread out around the room. I then designate who within each group will read first, second, etc. Students get to rehearse by presenting to the other children in their groups. We go over how to hold their paper and speak loudly.
- Decorating: Banner and Snacks
I like to build up a publishing party as much as possible so I put a banner (you can get free banners off of Teachers Pay Teachers) outside our classroom and set up a little refreshments table for after the party. On the refreshment table I even include a sign that says “Published authors only”. You always want your students to feel proud of their work and making a big deal out of being published authors is an easy way to do this.
So the next time your class completes a writing project, feel free to host your own publishing party! It’s rewarding and fun for everyone involved. Happy writing!