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Elementary schools join together to publish gifted students' books

More than 150 local elementary students have become published authors thanks to the gifted department of McDuffie County Schools. Publishing parties for each class were held last week, with students showing off their books to parents while they enjoyed party foods and television.

The published books were a joint collaboration project between the gifted department, Norris Elementary School teams 4B and 5B and gifted students at Thomson, Maxwell and Dearing Elementary schools.

"It takes a great deal of commitment on the part of the students, parents, classroom teachers and gifted specialists to undertake a project of this magnitude," teacher Jerry Snider said.

The students wrote their own stories and drew their own illustrations, which were published in 8½ by 11-inch hardback books by Student Treasure Publishing Company of Topeka, Kans. Depending on the class and situation, the books were published either free or at cost, and parents could pay for additional prints.

"I didn't order extra copies, because I didn't know it was going to be so good. Now, I wish I did," Charmain Taylor said of her daughter, Kayana's book, The Demon Ghost. "I think she did a real good job. She's definitely got an imagination."

A self-proclaimed lover of "anything scary, except zombies," Kayana said the topic of her book is "exciting," and her favorite part is "the man with no face." Kayana based her story on tales she's heard from her "Auntie Tina, who has seen a ghost before and it inspired me."

Dr. Snider said the books were the end product of a narrative writing study. Fifth grade teacher Jessica Nicholson said the project taught a lot of writing skills, and she hopes to use it again. Saying he's "usually okay with this stuff," although sometimes he "messes up," fifth grader Alex Lewis said "actually coming up with the story" was the hardest part about his book, Life With Five. Alex's book is a true story about all of his cousins coming for an extended visit at his house.

"The students were focusing on narrative writing as we progressed through the writing process together," Dr. Snider said. "Lots of writing, rewriting, writing, conferencing, writing, writing, editing, writing, editing, writing, editing and illustrating were involved. ... We began in October and ended in December."

As a parent, Oliver Ford said he thought the books were a fun way to help the students learn skills that will help them as they progress into upper grades. Mr. Ford's step daughter, Allycia Reece, wrote a book about going to her grandmother's house.

"She did a really good job with it. The pictures really look like the inside of her grandma's house," her mother, Carla Ford, said. "I'm really proud of her."

But drawing pictures was not everyone's strong point. In fact, Drue Poston said it was the most challenging part about his book, My Mysterious Hunting Trip. Now a fifth grader, Drue said he has been hunting since he was five-years-old. He liked "coming up with the parts that were both funny and weird" for his story.

"He lives for hunting," his mother, Kelli Poston, said. Because she is a teacher at Maxwell Elementary, Mrs. Poston thought she knew what her son's strengths were, and said she was pleasantly surprised with his book. "He's a strong student in math, so he surprises me with his writing. I think he did a good job."

The fourth and fifth graders at Norris Elementary each had their own book published. The gifted students at the other elementary schools made a class book, to which everyone in the class contributed. Dr. Snider said Thomson and Maxwell Elementary gifted students' book was called Animals, and those at Dearing Elementary made Games Gifted Kids Like to Play.

Web posted on Thursday, January 29, 2009

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