I am in the early planning stages of a project to have my 8th grade history classes write and illustrate stories related to the American Revolution. I would like to have my students publish their work in order to make it as authentic an experience as possible. Has anyone done anything like this? I would love advice on how to best proceed. Is Lulu the best online self publishing site for students, or is there something better? Thanks.

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I don't know if this site is too young for your crowd but we just finished a book publishing project using Tikatok. It is pretty intuative to use, you scan in the illustrations. The books can be viewed online and the best part is you (or parents) can buy hardback or paperback books from the site. The quaility of the finished book (we've seen both hardback and paperback) is amazing. The books are expensive when you buy them off the site but you can get educational pricing ($7.00 and $12.00). The gal that owns the site is very helpful and will get right back to you if you have questions.

As I teacher almost all my student projects are digital but as a parent I always loved those "hard copy" projects. Check them out at http://tikatok.com/
Thank you, Nancy. Tikatok looks like a really great site, but I think it may be a bit young for my 8th graders. I will still show them the site. One of my classes is interested in publishing a children's book, so they may be interested in Tikatok since the site seems geared for younger children. I may actually have my youngest daughter make a book from some of the stories she likes to write using Tikatok.
It does look young, I'll keep my eyes peeled for an older version. My co teacher did it with her 8 year old son and he loved-- and we did it with 2-4th grade students in our gifted program.

This is not a book but I've seen some beautiful stuff done with glogster.com using primary sources--check out the ones in the left hand column on Oskar Schindler and Itzak Stern http://katikaticollegecreations.wikispaces.com/Itzak+Stern
Thanks for the tip on Tikatok, I think this is something I can recommend to our elementary teachers. Personally I had our baby photo book and wedding photo book published through Shutterfly and Lulu. The only difference I noted is the paperback cover for Shutterfly seems more durable. But both are easy to use with lots of choices for templates and backgrounds. I will also suggest Booksmart, which is a software you can download from Blurb and install in your computers. This is what I'm trying now but my project's not done yet. I also heard good things about Panraven for digital storytelling. Their sites offers a library of photos for students to use.
Wow, I will be checking out some of these sites. I've never heard of Panraven or Booksmart before. Thanks a lot!
I agree with Shutterfly's cover being much durable. I recently used it for our CA trip and anyone who had seen the book thinks that it is worth the money.
I have used lulu.com with great success, but not with kids. I love the quality and the "no cost" way to publish and sell calendars, books, etc. They are helpful there too!

best of luck!

Gail Lovely
Do you think 8th graders would find Lulu intuitive to use?

I certainly am excited about what I've heard about Lulu but it's mainly from adults. I also like the idea of my students using the same "authentic" tools that adults use. I think it can be a validating experience to be working on a school project on a tool that adults use.
I had a student magazine published through Lulu last year. They do a nice job as long as you follow their specs to the letter. The turnaround is short, so I would advise that you print one, see if it is any good, make changes on your publication before you print an large number.
Thank you. That sounds like good advice. Were any of the specs difficult to manage or unusual in any way? Or were there just a lot of requirements?
They are fairly simple and the website specifies them. You just need to leave room for bleeds, etc., so the layout must match the needs of the program. Also you need to convert the layout to a pdf before you upload it. If you go on the site, they are pretty good with providing information. They also have an online support that is pretty good.

I was pretty impressed and will be using it for our student publication this year. A colleague used it to publish his masters thesis.

Good luck with it.
I went to look at Lulu and there is instant LIVE help. I chatted with "Lisa", she answered my question. I was impressed.

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