You are here

Curriculum Update



Student Authors Publish Work through Web

Chris Wilcox, a fifth-grade teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Provo, Utah, feels that there is no greater inspiration to write than having one’s own stories published, but classroom projects to self-publish student work are often too labor intensive or expensive. So in January 2008 he founded a Web-driven business with other family members, MightyAuthors .com, and now students across the country are creating and printing out their own books either on loose paper or as softcover or hardcover books.


Wilcox wanted to create a site that could be used to help teach writing in the classroom. He says companies that provide a similar publishing service charge prices that are too high for practical classroom use.

The service is now used in more than 200 Utah schools, as well as in parts of California, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. At Willow Springs Elementary in Draper, Utah, students used the site to make about 160 books for needy students in Peru this year. All the school’s students—from preschoolers to sixth-graders—wrote and illustrated the books, whose costs were met through student fund raising.

The site works like this: Teachers can pay a one-time enrollment fee of $50, or schools can pay a one-time enrollment fee of $350 to give students, parents and teachers access. From there, books range in price from $7.95 to $22.95, depending on the size, binding and cover.

At Falcon Ridge Elementary in West Jordan, Utah, principal Karen Thomson says there are currently two chest-high bookshelves in the school’s library that are nearly empty—but won’t be for long.

“This whole area will be filled by the end of the year,” she says. “We’re striving for a community of writers, one where students understand the writing process, and part of that is having an audience.”

Sheryl Wilcox, Chris’ wife and a cofounder of the site, acknowledges that there are other services online that will publish and bind student work, but she explains that was developed by educators specifically with schools and teachers in mind.


Texas Students Learn via Phone

In a novel approach to bringing into the classroom a 21st-century technology with which nearly all students are all-too-familiar, the Keller (Texas) Independent School District is rolling out what is usually ordered to be left in lockers: cell phones.

Last month the 30,000-student district began a pilot program to outfit 55 students with smartphones, which provide basic computing and Web-based functions, through a grant from telecommunications company Verizon. The program will deliver curricular content to the students through the touchscreen phones, which feature slide-out keyboards, from Taiwanese vendor HTC.