The best way to get students engaged in their own learning is to give them a way to apply their skills to the real world. In the world of Language Arts we have an advantage with authentic assessments because we have something known as publication. After all, what can be more of a real-life application of student writing than seeing it in print?
Yet in this age of social media, just having your writing in print is having less of an impact. Students can have their own words posted for the world to see whenever they have a meaningful thought (or want to give a 140 character vent about having too much homework). So what can teachers do to rekindle the thrill of publication? Enter Creative Communication.
What it is:
This FREE program offers six recurring writing contests throughout the school year (three for essays and three for poems). The contests are open-ended with no theme, just basic limits such as word count. Teachers submit their students’ work and then the top 45% of all entries are chosen for publication. And we’re not talking publication on a web page – we’re talking legitimate publication in a hardcover anthology!
Bonus! There is no catch for being published – students will be published whether or not they purchase the anthology.
How I use it:
Studying Shakespeare? Have students create their own sonnets after analyzing the form, and then enter them into the poetry contest! Now you can assess their understanding of the form by looking at their application of it, and students can feel that their writing has purpose by hoping for publication!
This will be my 6th year using this program because the openness of the contests make this the perfect culmination to any unit. I have used this when I taught remedial reading through gifted language arts; it works for all levels of learners. Sometimes I offer contest submission as an extra credit opportunity by giving students the option of submitting final writings on their own and other times I have made it a mandatory part of a unit where I submit their final essays as a class. Both ways are simple to do and only involve you creating a FREE educator account.
My favorite part of using this website is distributing the results. Winners are sent postcards announcing their publication, and I love to make a big show of passing these out. Then I add the students’ names to my Authors Board.
- It’s FREE
- Students’ work can be printed in hardcover books
- You do not need to buy the book to be published
- Teachers earn points for having students published, which result in classroom resources
- Top students earn cash prizes (always an extra incentive for students)
- Easily applicable for all units and all learners
- Need to submit “proof of publication” forms (I hate having to chase down students to collect these)
- Sometimes the lack of restrictions can be difficult for a student to focus his or her writing
What writing contests or publications do you use in your classroom?