A writing anthology that is a collection of the students’ finished essays, stories, and reports they have worked on all year makes a great end-of-year project. My students always enjoy looking back at their past writings, and seeing how far they’ve come as writers. A few of them are genuinely surprised at their very earliest writing in our class, and I enjoy seeing them marvel at their growth. Obviously this is a project that requires planning very much ahead, so if this is something that interests you, consider trying it with your new group of students in the fall…after you’ve enjoyed a fun-filled summer!
Organize Your Writing Projects
First, you need a system for collecting students’ completed writing projects. I don’t save many rough drafts or graphic organizers (unless I think they have potential as an example and have the student’s permission to use them with a future class), however I do keep their final copies. I have a hanging filing system and just collect each project in its own file in the order we do them. A sticky note on the top of the stack is sufficient for providing information about the details of the project – genre, purpose, etc. As the year progresses, continue storing each project.
Writing Anthology Sections
After you’ve completed your last writing project, it’s time to start organizing for the writing anthology. Here are the pages that I require my students to include:
- Front Cover
- Table of Contents
- Final Copies of the Writings (in chronological order)
- About the Author (short biography)
- Back Cover
Cover It Up
The front and back covers are fairly obvious, however if possible I would recommend you use card stock (if you can get it). I realize that by the end of the school year there’s not much left in the budget and construction paper may be your only option. That’s fine. Students are particularly excited about designing and decorating their covers and this gives you one last chance to teach about the importance of text features in writing. Emphasize the importance of readability through text size and contrasting colors.
Table of Contents
I insist my students include a table of contents. This requires them to organize their writing and is one of the few assignments where they may have the opportunity to write a table of contents. Most students interact with this rather bland reference feature only rarely, so having them actually write one gives them further insight into how books are organized to assist readers.
Writing Anthology Autobiography
Ordering their completed writing projects is perhaps the easiest part because I’ve already collected and stored them in sequential order. As each project is returned, students discreetly number it accordingly in the upper right corner. Another project requirement is for students to write a brief autobiography and title it “About the Author.” As we have finished the year reading two biographies, it’s a simple jump for them to understand the concept behind an autobiography. Also, I can get one last chance at how to use Greek word parts to understand new vocabulary.
Farewell to Friends
Our school offers students the chance to purchase a yearbook. This is a popular item because kids love to write short notes of farewell and best wishes to their classmates in them. However, not all students can afford to buy yearbooks. I came up with including a Comments section at the back of our writing anthology to mimic similar pages in our school yearbook. Students can read their classmates’ writings and then write their own short messages in the back. It gives them an audience for their writing and now everyone has a book filled with notes from their friends. Publishing our writing was never so much fun as when we’re reading and writing in our anthologies!
Writing Anthology Memories
A writing anthology at the end of the year is a great way to finish your writer’s workshop. The project itself is flexible, so it’s easy to start and stop as time permits during the last week of school. This collection of writing can become a treasured keepsake for some students, especially for those who loved writing. For others, it might just be an enjoyable way to end the year. Hopefully all my students will realize the growth they’ve achieved as writers and enter middle school confident in their writing ability.