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Guest Post - Kwame Alexander

posted May 15, 2012, 2:28 AM by Christine Brower-Cohen   [ updated May 15, 2012, 2:28 AM by rcase@wbschools.org ]
 May 15, 2012
I planned on writing a series of posts this week on formative assessments, but I am THRILLED to present a guest post from poet, writer, and publisher, Kwame Alexander.  Therefore, formative assements will have to wait until tomorrow.  (Notice, my fine readers, that if you agree to write a guest post, you get priority!) Here is Kwame's priority post:
Kwame Alexnder's Book-in-a-Day (BID) is a groundbreaking writing and publishing program that focuses on student-run publication—in one day. Educators spend hours looking for exciting ways to bring literature to life. The solution is Book-in-a-Day, a new fun-filled, hands-on literacy project that teaches students the fundamentals of creative writing and book publishing. Since 2007, we have completed the Book-in-a-Day program in 45 schools/programs in the US, Canada, and the Carribean, with more than 2500 student authors created.
I pride BID on being a student-run book publishing program. Meaning, the students do ALL OF THE WORK. We just coach them through the process, and make sure they have the proper tools to succeed. Whether they actually publish a book is up to them (and their teachers). After 46 schools, 45 schools have published a book (I do not want to discuss that ONE, thank you.) At a recent school, t...he a group  of students decided to divide their book into three sections. They then assigned each poem to one of the three sections. Finally, three of the students were tasked with correlating the sections electronically, so the digital file reflected the hard copy. They assured me they  had done this. When we got back to the office, we discovered that they'd only done half of the work. I did not finish it for them. We always send the final file to the teacher for approval before we print the book. We did, and today I was informed that the kids were in an uproar because the final book did not reflect the 3 sections. I let him know to tell them that they didn't complete the task, and in the real world, if you don't do your job, it doesn't get done, and somebody get's fired. It's a harsh lesson, but student-run means student-run. Below is the email I received from one of the students. When you're in the wrong, this is how you write an email folks. I love my job...
Dear Mr. Alexander:

We were reviewing what appears to be the penultimate draft for our book, and we noticed that the book was not divided into the three sections. I discussed this with our teacher, and asked him if there was anything we could do to reformat it back to the original plan. He said I could ask you about it, but said there was limited time to do anything about this, if at all possible.

I realize the obstacles that this book has met this year, and I understand that it has been unusually difficult in the Proofreading and Cover Design departments. But from every corner of my being, I desire for this Book-In-A-Day publication to be just as successful as our previous two BID books, among many of the other books you have published. If there is any way I can do any kind of overhaul on how the poems in this book are divided and presented, I would be extremely grateful for the opportunity and work on this as diligently as possible and as long as needed for this to meet the standard the other books have set.

If not, I respect your wishes with the sincere hope that our book will be well-received and as successful as (if not more successful than) our preceding publications

Wow!  What a great lesson. 
Thanks for sharing, Kwame!   Readers can see Kwame at a Collegial Circle at Tooker Avenue elementary school in West Babylon, NY on Monday, May 21, 2012.  It is sure to be a dynamic presentation!  For more info, see my previous post on Kwame Alexander's upcoming visit, or contact him using one of the links below: 
Kwame Alexander, 2012 NAACP Image Award Nominee
Author of Acoustic Rooster and his Barnyard Band with NY Times Bestselling Illustrator, Tim Bowers
Also, check out Kwame on TWITTER & FACEBOOK
Tomorrow, I'll blog about formative assessments, unless of course some other brave and generous soul agrees to write a guest post.
Happy reading,