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Friday, September 23, 2016

MS English Launch Grant Project - Publishing Using FlipSnack

Middle School teacher Betsy Canaday did a launch grant during the 2015-2016 school year to explore ways technology can help students understand the complexity of the characterization in one of the novels within the curriculum. This novel, The Outsiders, is a story about high schoolers in the 50's. Ms. Canaday wanted students to explore physical and emotional characterization in today's tech setting, using social media and online communication. Her write-up of this project follows...

In Middle School English we are always looking for new ways to help students to connect with the reading.  A favorite book in our English curriculum is The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton.  The book, as many of you will remember, has a rich character list of high school students who clash and connect according to their class status, the Greasers and Socs.  Inspired and helped by Svetlana Grinshpan, we developed an end-of-unit project, The Yearbook.   We first looked at archived Browne and Nichols and Buckingham yearbooks from the fifties, which was great fun.  (They saw how the students have changed (or not) and how the buildings have changed (or not.)  Students then created a yearbook page for their assigned character, which they complied into their own yearbooks.

Each student had to write a formal “goodbye” in the voice of the character that expressed that character’s perspective, wishes, frustrations, etc.

They also had to include a list of clubs and activities the character would be likely to have attended (car maintenance, sunset watching, peace negotiation, etc.) and what their future plans would be after graduation.

The piece of the project that was most engaging to students was the photographs.  Each page needed to include a formal portrait of their character (the students in costume) and a “candid.”  For the candid students employed the green screen and Photoshop in order to place their characters in a school hallway, or park, or church on a hill, etc.

Once each page was complete, the student groups assembled their pages into a yearbook, complete with title, table of contents, front and back covers.

The yearbooks were handed in digitally and we made them into books using FlipSnack and posted them on our Haiku sites.

Examples of yearbooks linked here:
The project was great fun, but more importantly, the students really had to dig into their character and his/her role in the novel, use textual evidence to support their ideas, write coherently in the characters’ voice, and practice tech skills that were new to many.

Thank you for the opportunity to create this project.  It was one of the highlights of the year.

Betsy Canaday
MS English Department Head

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