YEAR 2 students all over the country will have spent time this term writing stories in their literacy lessons.
But one West Australian class has had their writing collated and published into a collection of short stories.
The book, titled Seven Year Olds Speak: 22 Amazing Stories, has become a great source of pride for the youngsters at Westminster Junior Primary School who never dreamed of becoming published authors at such a young age.
Their teacher, Lis Mathiasen first initiated the project with her Year 2s in 2012 with four of her students entering their work in the Tim Winton Award for Young Writers. She beams with pride as she talks about the journey she’s been on since.
“The idea of actually publishing a Year 2 short story book was actually initiated in 2012,” she tells Oz Teacher.
“We got the gist of the Tim Winton award for young writers and I thought it would be great for my kids.
“I had four kids submitting, they didn’t win anything however I thought, ‘that is a really good idea to get them to write stories’.”
Those four students went on to become mentors for their classmates. Given the success of the project, Mathiasen went on to repeat the process with her class the following year.
With instructions to write freely on a topic of their choice, the youngsters were able to see their ideas come to life.
The whole process became an integrated curriculum program that not only worked on their writing skills, but also technology and the arts.
“I also integrated it with … their social and emotional health and wellbeing because they kind of really came to terms with themselves and where they could see themselves as writers and competent little people who were now winners,” Mathiasen shares.
“Even the ones who were not able to write — we had one little boy in the class who has autism and he was not able to write his own story, but he was actually able to verbalise it so he was taken through the process verbally and then he had a scribe, and so every single child was able to come up with a story.”
Mathiasen attributes the success of the program to the wonderful work of her education assistant, Jeanette Hayman who worked tirelessly with the young students to get the best out of the project.
“She didn’t feed them, she was just the catalyst where she would bring things in and then let the kids explore themselves, how they could actually improve and how they could better their writing.
“When it came to the editing, she also encouraged them to have a very critical look at their own work, and they swapped stories.
“The most important thing in this pioneering project really was to enhance their confidence and self worth so they could see themselves as competent little writers.”
When the students held their published work in their hands for first time, Mathiasen says it was quite a remarkable moment.
“They couldn’t believe their eyes, they just couldn’t believe it.