Trio of writing projects inspire Flagler students

April 22, 2017
Daytona Beach News Journal

i3 Academy students are taking a novel approach to their creative writing.

Working with journalism, drawing and game design students – as well as published authors — they are producing works across a broad spectrum.

The results will not only help meet academic goals but will give them a glimpse into the world of professional writing.

Under the direction of language arts teacher Corinne Schaefer, the students have created an anthology of children’s stories for a Bunnell Elementary School class, memoirs for residents of Las Palmas senior living community and promotional trailers for a local author’s book.

Of the three projects, the last most directly intersects the realm of the publishing industry.

The students began by reading “Food for a Hungry Ghost,” the first in a young adult series by Becky M. Pourchot of Flagler Beach.

“Now, they have to pull details from the book without giving away too much information in order to sell the book series for the author,” said Schaefer.

The trailers are videos that run between 30 seconds and two minutes and will appear on the author’s website or Facebook page.

Tenth-graders Julianna Burns and Jace Wilson are putting together a slide presentation featuring photos depicting scenes related to the story. Then, they will record their voices over the images.

Julianna said the biggest challenge was drawing attention to the book without giving the whole story away.

“You don’t want to go too in-depth,” added Jace. “And you also want to leave them kind of hanging so they actually read the book.”

Pourchot came in and spoke to the class, and the students learned from other authors, who spoke to them via Skype.

While that project targets young adult readers, the other two projects are focused on very different audiences.

The children’s anthology contains one story for every student in teacher Teresa Baldwin’s fifth grade class at Bunnell Elementary. And while the yarns are imaginative and fun, they are also serious business.

Schaefer’s students had to first identify the standards associated with their readers’ grade level and then create stories that taught those standards.

“It was pretty challenging, because you have to make it at the fifth grade level,” said 11th-grader Alexey Chipps. You have to make sure they understand, but you also have to include all of the information so they learn something new. It was a difficult task, but it was fun.”

To make sure the stories were tailored to their readers’ level of comprehension, the students tested them on another class of fifth graders. The students also got a chance to learn what it was like to collaborate with others. Teacher Courtney VandeBunte’s drawing students did the illustrations for the stories and game design students created interactive apps or games to bring the stories to life.

The biggest challenge for the illustrators was coordinating their efforts with those of the authors.

“I liked it because I really learned a lot as an illustrator,” said Abby Franklin. “I learned how to kind of understand how it feels to be a real illustrator, because we have to take input from the authors.”

“What I liked most about it was just drawing pictures and making a book for the kids that they would enjoy and learn from,” added Cydni Bode.

For Masen Steinwehr, the main illustrator for “Saving Planet Cha-Cha,” the project was an opportunity to try new things.

“I thought it was a good experience to learn more about mixed media,” he said.

“Cha-Cha” was written by Sabrina Abbott, Kyle Helmer and Lavadus Davis, who had a dual role in the project – he also helped create games associated with the tales.

Each student in Baldwin’s class will receive a copy of the 142-page book, “Stories Through the “i” of a Bulldog.” The book was edited by senior Elora Haynes, who has an internship with the book’s publisher.

The readership for the memoir project is a very different; the focus is on senior citizens.

Schaefer’s students met with members of the journalism class taught by Mike Rinyu to learn some basics of effective interviewing. Then, they sat down with Las Palmas residents to record their stories.

Speaking to members of a different generation clearly inspired the students.

Eleventh-grader Steven Bates had an opportunity to write the memoir of a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Maritime Service.

“His story is something that you have to read or listen to because that will inspire anyone,” he said.

The man he interviewed returned from the war to find out Maritime Service veterans were not eligible for benefits.

“Did that stop him? No,” said Steven. “He went to work right away. He went to college, got his degree. That kind of inspired me because he did all of that without any help. That was all him.”

Schaefer intends to bind the memoirs with a binding machine and then take the students to Las Palmas to deliver them.

Her multidisciplinary writing project was funded by a grant from the Flagler County Education Foundation.

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