Special summer reading

Fort Dodge Middle School students completed their summer reading program by making and publishing their own books.

“We spent four days in June working on reading skills and strategies. Then we spent two days in July, workshop days, writing their books and connecting what we learned from reading into writing,” Amanda Becker, FDMS teacher, said. “And the kids came up with their own books during that time.”

The students chose to wrote on a variety of subjects.

“We focused around the conceptual theme of survival,” Becker said. “We have a whole variety of books, from surviving cancer to accidents on dirt bikes. And then some survival in the wilderness and real world.”

In researching and putting together their books, the students used many Google programs.

“We used a lot of Google apps, like Google Drive and Gmail, those types of things,” Aaron Schmidt, district technology integration specialist, said. “And then we used a site called Lulu.com, where you can upload your files and get the books published and printed. To create the books we used a website called LucidPress.com. It’s kind of like Microsoft Publisher, but it’s all online, and works well with the Google apps the school is already using.”

According to Becker, the students were excited to make their own books.

“They learned a lot about researching and finding the right sources, putting what they learned from reading into writing,” she said. “And they were really excited about adding in their own pictures and pieces of information.”

The students had no problems learning the new apps and programs, Schmidt said.

“At first it was a little bit of a struggle teaching it with the short amount of time, but they actually adapted very well,” he said. “One of the days they came in we just let them have some play time with it, which worked really well to get them used to using it. They caught on after just a few minutes of clicking around and figuring things out.”

It is important for students to learn about technology at an early age, Schmidt said.

“The biggest thing is that it’s not just learning the technology, it’s to integrate it into what they do every day,” he said. “It’s transforming the way we live. To not use it is an injustice to the education that the students are already receiving.”

The end result, Becker said, was exceptional.

“We were a little nervous a first, but they turned out pretty amazing,” she said. “The kids were very proud of them. They put a lot of hard work into them, so they should be proud of them.”