“My students want to interview you on camera for a project they are working on, can you come by my classroom on Friday at 11?”
That was the pretext upon which Pleasant Hill Academy teacher D’Etta McShaw got Principal Shauna McDowell to come to her classroom on Friday, April 13, 2018.
But there was no interview. Instead, it was a surprise book dedication to celebrate the publication of My Experience with Environmental Science, a book co-authored and illustrated by McShaw’s second-grade students.
“I knew something was going on,” a surprised McDowell told WCPO after the students presented the book to her. “When these students come back and show their future children, hopefully it sparks the excitement for them to want to write and publish their own books.”
My Experience with Environmental Science details what students learned throughout the school year in the school’s Vision 2020 program.
“I gave students autonomy to create what they wanted to create as long as it tied back to our curriculum focus of environmental science,” said McShaw. “They conducted research and wrote about or drew insects, plants, animals, and so on.”
While the subject matter was science-related, the project prompted students to develop and hone their creativity—from sparking their imagination through brainstorming and reflection exercises and conducting research to further develop their ideas, to drafting and revising versions of both their copy and illustrations for final publication while following a deadline.
“Doing the work was a learning process for many students,” said McShaw. “They had to understand and follow deadlines. Some of them skipped recess or took their drafts home to work on their contributions. They really persevered.”
The daunting task of editing was alleviated in part to McShaw’s collaboration with the school librarian and other teachers. With the first edition of the book now in-hand, McShaw—along with Principal McDowell and proud parents, grandparents, and family members in attendance of the book dedication—beamed with pride.
“They are published authors,” McShaw said. “Who can say that as a second-grader?”
My Experience with Environmental Science will be available at the Pleasant Hill library. It is also available online for $15.00 through Student Treasures Publishing. When ordering, type “7972778” as the PIN to find and purchase the book.
Keep up with Pleasant Hill Academy, a Vision 2020 school, at pleasanthill.cps-k12.org.