Each spring semester Elementary Education students in the Reading I class on the McCurtain County Campus complete a Predictable Book Project. Designed to give ELED pre-service teachers one of their first experiences actually working with “real” children over an extended period of time, the project requires that they begin by reading several pattern or predictable books aloud to a small group of second graders. Then they help the children decide which book they would like to use as a pattern to write their own book. The teacher guides the students in writing the text and illustrating their book, complete with title and author pages. The experience is a very meaningful and productive one for both the children and the pre-service teachers. The children gain in self-confidence as they become real authors. Often the teachers will visit the children’s classrooms to read their books with them. The pre-service teachers gain in confidence as well and continue the project by reflecting on the events of the pattern-book process and thinking about ways they could improve it. Thus it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
The ELED students can even use this activity later in their own classrooms. One graduate of our ELED program currently has her students involved in writing books based on one of the texts of prolific children’s author Bill Martin. Their books will be submitted to the Authors of Class Contest held in May as part of the Bill Martin Jr Annual Symposium at Texas A&M University-Commerce.