Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Authentic Assessment: Let's Publish an eBook

My Latin III students and I sat around this afternoon chatting about what to do with the last month of their high school Latin career. They decided they wanted to write and publish a book about their favorite Roman poet -- Catullus.

And they don't want to fake it.

By the end of a 45 minute session, they had chosen two editors-in-chief, worked out assignments ranging from writing and translating to public domain picture vetting. Two students took the lead figuring out how to publish an eBook that would be available on Amazon; by the end of class, they had figured out how to get an ISBN number and were talking about how to distribute any money from sales to charity.

They set up a Google Group for organizing, and a Tumblr and Twitter account to promote their work and to connect with folks interested in what they are doing. As I understand it, they want to set up a video streaming channel to talk to other Latin students; and they are looking at different ways of putting a book together.

Finally, they are going through all of the translation and critical analysis they've done all year and they are editing it all into something that can stand on its own.

This is authentic assessment. It's assessment directly integrated into the process of "the making of the learning". It's assessment that will likely live on in Amazon comment boards and archived chats long after I've done the work of giving grades. And it makes something as potentially arcane as ancient poetry into something with which the students can work and make new things.

They'd love it if you followed their progress at @CatullusDivided and soon on the YouTube channel where they will be documenting their experience.


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  2. Talk about an engaging practice. I look forward to your chronicling of events as they unforld.

  3. Will the Administration or Parents wonder about what "grade" the students will get?

  4. @pshircliff

    The students are designing the objective and a flexible rubric (ie How much translation, article writing, research, design, "hard labor" each member of the team has to contribute). I'm signing off on everything (more in the role of an "executive producer" than anything else), but it's up to them to make the thing and explain why it was or wasn't successful. Ultimately, they will be the ones who decide their grade, and so long as that jives with what we've all agreed to I see no reason why that would cause any problem (and I've done many a project-based-learning assessment designed and evaluated by the participants and have never had problems in the past).


  5. I look forward to following the process with @CatullusDivided. I am also going to share this post with my students tomorrow. One of the requirements of their latest personal essay was to find an audience outside of school for their essay. This is a great example for them to follow.

  6. Hi Shelly,
    This is a brilliant example of what Alan November called "leaving a legacy" in his March 2011 TEDx NYED talk see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebJHzpEy4bE
    It is,as you say,true assessment of learning as well as adding to our stock of knowledge and providing an example to future employees of creativity, collaboration and learning skills.

  7. Hi Shelly

    I have and am really enjoying your blog - it has challenged the way I do some things in my classroom, so thank you.

    I am in the process of writing an ebook myself (not for renumeration, but just for my students) I have the students making the videos that are going to be embedded in the 'book'. What I was wondering is what platform your students are using? I have looked at a couple but have not settled on one. I would appreciate your advice.


  8. This is awesome :) I look forward to following their progress!

  9. This is just FANTASTIC!!! Will you (or the students) be posting links to their Tumblr blog and YouTube Channel?

    Buffy Hamilton

  10. They've made several accounts all linked through a Google profile: https://profiles.google.com/100109746459304987606/about

  11. How impressive! What an inspiring example and legacy your students are creating, Shelly. Malcolm, I second your recommendation of Alan November's TEDx NYED talk -- this project is another great example of this type of student work. Thanks for sharing this, Shelly, and best of luck to you and your students.

  12. Publishers are telling readers that the physical book isn't worth anything and that the entire value is in the story.Except when a writer's cut of a book's cover price is determined. Then the value of the story is minimal.As you said, that's another matter.While the view that the story is the entire value of a book is flattering to the writer,that's not the way that readers see it.To readers, e-book cost nothing to produce. Publishers know that isn't true.Writers know it too. But try to convince the general public of that. As far as readers are concerned,the incremental cost to produce more copies of an e-book is zero.So the readers expect an eBook to be priced less than a physical book. The real costs have nothing to do with it. Design and Graphics


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