California Educator

August / September 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 54 of 71

five teams — editing, layout and design, ar t and photography, marketing and publicity, and event planning — to learn real-life skills. "I love seeing it all come together," says McQuade. "And they gain a strong sense of accomplishment in the process." The students held a book l a u n c h p a r t y i n M a y a n d reached out to local television and radio stations and th e community via social media to promote the event, which featured emcees, poetry read- ings, "Student Choice Awards" and accolades from faculty. Approximately 200 students, p a r e n t s a n d c o m m u n i t y m e m b e r s attended, with food and drinks donated by parents and decorations and programs created by students. " B e i n g p a r t of th e e v e n t p l a n n i n g group made me feel like I was really in a team setting," says student Donya Beh- roozi. "Being able to present in a crowd was a good skill for me to practice. Our poetry writing got much better, and we learned real-life skills to use later on in our adult years." Joelle Elliott, a member of the layout and design team, also enjoyed the project. "Everyone gets to participate and publish their own poem. At the end of the day, it's great to see how th e cl a ss e s c a m e to ge th er to create a book of all differ- ent v oices and ideas. Al so, I enjoyed getting a chance to read everyone's poems." A teacher for nearly three decades, McQuade has always loved poetry. But she is aware many students dread the unit, until they realize poetry offers them a unique opportunity for self-ex- pression and a means to work through emotions including anxiety, depression and grief. Many students who initially said they were incapable of writing poems have come to love it, and have turned in amazing work, she says. "It's a way to express your emotions without needing to make sense," says student Lilly Schirmer. "It takes over your whole body and transforms your way of thinking." For student Sophie Adams, "Poetr y allows me to express what I cannot bring myself to say." McQuade shares with students that some famous bestsellers — including The Martian by Andy Weir, which became a hit movie — began as online books. "E-books give you the freedom to be in control of what you publish — and to get it done quickly," she explains. S o m e s t u d e n t s , i n c l u d i n g K o o - s h a A z i m , w e re s o e n e rg i z e d b y t h e e x p e r i e n c e t h e y w a n t t o c o n t i n u e p u b li sh i n g e - b o o k s . "ese skills have inspired me to create e-books about entrepreneurship," he says. Publishing an e-book is a lot of work — especially with multiple classes — but it's worth it for McQuade, because the proj- ect motivates students and energizes her teaching, she says. "I encourage any teacher with a pas- sion for writing to take it on." How Educators Can Help Students Publish S I N C E 2 0 14 , Tonya McQuade has helped over 600 students become published authors — at no cost to the school or the students. She and her students use Smashwords, an e-book publishing and distribution platform for self-published authors and independent presses. Smashwords offers an informative podcast series, and in a recent episode, founder Mark Coker celebrates Los Gatos High School and McQuade. He describes how educators and their students, no matter where they are located, can professionally produce, publish, distribute and promote an e-book. He says that when educators collaborate with their local libraries, the impact and results are even better. To hear the episode, go to The podcast page includes links to related documents and articles, including Tonya McQuade's project assignment to her class and list of team responsibilities. There is also a link to Windows to the Teenage Soul, the first poetry anthology published by Los Gatos High students. The e-book's appendix describes how other schools can take on their own publishing projects. " I want to give students an opportunity to share their voices with a much larger audience. I love seeing them shine in a new light." — Tonya McQuade, Los Gatos-Saratoga JUHSD Teachers Association 53 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 018 Kathleen Wehr

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - August / September 2018