What’s more exciting than the book that’s so good you can’t put it down? Writing and illustrating your own book! That’s what the fourth graders in Troy School District have done. Sara Hamburger, student teacher under the wings of elementary art teacher Lucy Chamberlain, led six classes of fourth grade students through the writing illustrating process. This project came about because of the Write Your Own Book contest at the Bradford County Library. This is the 23rd year of the competition and every year fantastic books written by the young authors of Bradford County offer tough competition.
“I have really enjoyed seeing the students create a story with illustrations due to Miss Hamburger’s lesson. She has done an excellent job motivating the students and sharing her enthusiasm for reading and books with the art they are creating. Some of the students’ stories have changed so much from the initial conception. The students have developed their ideas and concepts throughout the creation of their books. It has been great to watch and assist the students and Miss Hamburger through the process,” Chamberlain spoke enthusiastically about her student teacher.
Hamburger took on this major project in the Troy School District because she wanted to make the community aware of the students’ art. She enjoys the combination of art and writing.
Hamburger learned that if she wasn’t careful, it was easy for students to become discouraged because of the length of the project. “It was a crash course in organization which I still haven’t mastered yet,” said Hamburger. “One of the hardest things was to keep the students motivated because it was such a long project.” Hamburger helped her students set a goal and meet it, but having art only once a week was hard for students to stay motivated. The classroom teachers in the three elementary buildings who allowed time on non art days for students to work on the project encouraged their students to keep working.
“I am pleased that Lucy’s student teacher took the time to do this with our students. The artistic emphasis to the writing will make the entries more interesting due to the creative visuals! This is a great opportunity for the students. Also their work could be put in print, if it wins the contest!” said Mrs. Soni Haflett, fourth grade teacher at TECE.
Renee Broschart, another fourth grade teacher at TECE added, “The book project is a great creative opportunity for students to use the writing and art skills they have learned. It is a great way to see their artistic abilities shine! I love to see their ideas come to life on paper!”
Hamburger found that all the different stories were very creative. She saw sharing, collaborating as students worked well together. They helped each other and even taught each other drawing techniques.
One of the beautiful things Hamburger saw was that students took the skills they were learning in reading and writing in the regular class and applied it to this project. According to Neil Colton, fourth grade teacher at Mosherville, students had been learning dictionary and thesaurus skills, specifically about guide words. With dictionaries and thesauruses available for all his students Colton explained, “If they need help with spelling or finding new words, they can now use classroom dictionaries and thesauruses on their own for help.”
Jayden King, a fourth grade student in Colton’s class was writing a story about a boy and his dad who go out and look for wildlife to photograph. “I was looking for some words and their meanings and their spellings to make sure I spell them right,” said King. He wanted to jazz up the word “walk” and using a thesaurus, found that “hike” would work better for his story.
On the final day, when the books were delivered to the Bradford County Library, Sara Hamburger breathed a sigh of relief. But it was a good sigh. “If you really want a good teaching experience, come work with Mrs. Chamberlain because you’ll get it all! There’re so many students in five different grades, in three different buildings. It will prepare you for anything!”