April 14, 2009 marked a brand new generation of published authors at the young age of nine-eleven years old. On this special day, students from John H. Shary Elementary received a heavy shipment consisting of five different classroom books. Upon opening the box, every 4th grade student jumped for joy at the amazement of holding their first quality, hard bound copy of their classroom book. Each classroom book is a collection of every Fourth grader’s unique written contribution and an illustration. The books resemble high quality library books with the unique distinction that each book was created by one of the five participating 4th grade classes.
Mr. De La Rosa introduced the unique writing program, Student Treasures, because it supports 4th grade curriculum by reinforcing the writing process. Kids of all ages can be encouraged to write when they know that their work will be returned in the form of a published book. With the help of this program, schools can provide vivid and "professional" books at little cost. The book-making program implements the objectives of a publishing project, therefore educators utilize the Six Traits Writing model: ideas and content, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions to access and teach writing skills. Shary teachers integrated the projects into prescribed language arts and content standards. Reading and language arts benchmarks include prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and proofreading, and publishing. Publishing an actual book can provide a strong motivation for revising and editing.
Many students preordered copies of their books in advance. Although they are not obligated to do so, many family members elect to purchase reprints of their children's creations. The books often become family heirlooms, and some schools order copies of the best student books for the library. Hannah Santiago expressed her complete satisfaction by rushing home to share her book with her family. “It is really great to hold a published copy of your own,” added Hannah.
The Shary Elementary Librarian was presented with one collection of each five limited edition classroom books. The books were donated to the library, courtesy of Mr. De La Rosa, paid through educational funding he acquired from a special grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Students met learning objectives by connecting this educational writing enrichment project with Core Curriculum Content Standards. They further created age-appropriate themes through lesson plans tied to a specific learning objective. The possibilities were endless, because it included Technology, Language Arts, Social Studies, Reading, and Art.
Participating teachers are Mrs. Espinoza, Mrs. Martin, and Mr. De La Rosa. Shary principal, Ms. Alvarado, supported the book project with continuous praise. Each educator received a complimentary copy of their students’ edition. The company has published over 3 million FREE books for over 15,000 schools in all 50 states. The books are an example of a strong motivational learning and teaching tool and established a lifelong legacy of student publishing at Shary Elementary.