I love stories. And my Spanish 1 students seem to like them too! I figured what better way to have my students practice the vocabulary they had acquired all year than to let them create their own picture books with it! Midterms were coming up in mid-January, and this would be a nice way to synthesize the structures they’d acquired. Plus, I could get some free FVR material out of it! (It ended up NOT being free though… I went a little crazy and ordered a hard copy of all their stories!)
I let students put themselves into group of 3 or 4 to write their stories. Although I was worried about behavior issues in some groups, they mostly stayed focused because they were so invested in the final product!
Here are the guidelines I gave my students:
“Over the next several days, you and your group members will create a storybook in Spanish. Your story can be similar to “Las Mascotas de mi Hermano”, but needs to be different in some aspect. Change the animals, actions, or setting to make it your own!
You will be taking pictures in class to use as the book’s illustrations.
Don’t use words you don’t know. Your classmates won’t know what they’re reading then! Use your midterm dictionary to help you come up with vocabulary that you already know. The exception is for animals – if you’d like to use different animals in the story, you can look those up.
This project is worth 100 points. It must be taken seriously!
- At least 15 pages, plus the cover – 30 points
- All in comprehensible Spanish, no errors in vocabulary or grammar – 30 points
- At least one picture on every page – 10 points
- Pictures and text match – 10 points
- You book tells a complete story – 10 points
- You use ALL of your class time wisely – 10 points“
Click here to see the GoogleDoc and planning sheet that I gave them.
I gave students two days (we have 40-minute periods) to work on writing their stories. I told them to keep in mind that they’d have to take pictures of everything, so not to add anything TOO crazy to their story. I also showed them what props I have for them to use.
When writing the stories, I had my students write both the text and draw an illustration of or write down what the picture they take was going to be. That way, when it came time to take pictures, students already knew exactly what pictures they needed.
After students wrote for two days, I edited the stories. Normally I wouldn’t do too much editing because I don’t want to raise their affective filters, but I wanted the texts to be grammatically correct if I were to put them in the classroom library for FVR time.
The next step was taking pictures! OF COURSE my principal walked in the room on a day when it looked like this:
After students took pictures, we added them and the text to StoryJumper.com. I showed students the site’s tutorial video. It’s pretty user-friendly, but doesn’t work on iPads, so we had to move to the computer lab to work on the books.
StoryJumper allows you to create a free teacher account and add students to it! No student emails are needed, which is great. Having a teacher account let me view all of their work and edit, too, if needed!
I was so impressed with my students’ books. I was going to just download them on StoryJumper (which costs a few dollars per book) and print them out with my printer, but they deserved better than that! I decided to download and combine the PDFs of all their stories and upload it to Amazon’s AMAZING independent publishing platform CreateSpace. After resizing the PDFs and jumping through a few hoops, I had a real book with a real ISBN number that my students created. I even created my own publishing logo because I have no shame!
I ordered a proof of the book, which cost about $15. I think it would’ve been less if the book had been set-up portrait-style instead of landscape.
Anyway, I am SO happy with the finished product! My students were really excited when they saw the book. Some were a little embarrassed that the pictures actually got printed 😉 but the overall reaction was GREAT! My upper levels are excited to read it during FVR, too!
If you have any questions about creating a class book, the process, or the product, let me know in the comments! I hope you’re able to do something similar with your classes. It was such a great experience for mine!