August 15, 2021: Creating Teacher Materials
I wrote an article on this topic that appeared in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Fall 2019 Bulletin, and shared it on this blog last year. But this topic has been hotly discussed lately in several writer’s groups, so I thought I would once again share the insight I have gained from being a classroom teacher for 28 years.
For those of us who write for children, the thought of our book being read by a child and loved, is heartwarming. The thought of it being read by a group of young people in a classroom and passionately discussed, is thrilling.
Obviously, not every book written is appropriate for use in a classroom, but if yours is, one of the things that makes it easier (and more likely) for teachers to select your book for use in the curriculum, is if there are teacher-friendly materials ready to go.
Steps for Creating Teacher Materials:
1) Determine a grade level or age range in which to focus your materials.
To do this you must think about the Lexile, or reading level, needed to comprehend your book. The Lexile takes into consideration vocabulary, sentence structure, syntax, and other things that impact a reader’s comprehension of the text. There are many sites out there that can help you determine Lexile by uploading portions of the text for analysis. For example: https://lexile.com/educators/tools-to-support-reading-at-school/tools-to-determine-a-books-complexity/the-lexile-analyzer/
You also must consider the themes and topics when determining grade level.
2) Become familiar with those grade level standards.
Once you have decided which grade levels on which to focus, become familiar with the content standards that the teachers in those grade levels must teach. You can do this by going to any state DOE (Department of Education) web site and searching for standards. You can also search for Common Core Standards which many states either use or base their state standards on for Reading and Math. It will be up to you to decide if you want to list specific state standards in your Teacher’s Guide, for example SS.4.A.3.1, or just a general topic such as Early Explorers.
3) Create your activities.
When creating activities or lessons that could go along with your book, try to include
-Pre-reading Activities that the teacher could do prior to reading your book.
-During Reading Activities that could be done at different points in your story.
-After Reading Activities to do as a wrap-up.
-Journal or Writing Prompts that tie to your book.
-Discussion questions that could be used at various points during the reading.
-Vocabulary Lists of challenging or critical vocabulary.
4) Gather any additional resources that a teacher could use
If your book is historical fiction or in any way ties to historical events, try to gather primary and secondary documents that support the teaching of that time period. You can either include links to web sites or include copies of the documents in your guide. Keep in mind that you must consider the copyright of these documents. It is important to know that if these materials are being provided for free for classroom use, the copyright rules and laws are much more relaxed than if you plan to sell or in any way profit from the Teacher Materials. Because of this, I always provide my materials free from my web site or from other Teacher sites.
5) When actually assembling your Teacher’s Guide remember:
- Include a detailed synopsis of your book.
- Include the standards that could be addressed with your book.
- Include any maps or visuals that will help enrich the experience of your story.
- Include a materials lists for activities you might be suggesting.
- Include a Resource list with any other materials or websites that might be helpful.
- Include your Author Website and Contact info if you are available for schools visits or author skype sessions.
6) Get it out there!!!!
Once your Teacher’s Guide is done, you want to get it into the hands of teachers. There are lots of ways to do this. Some of the best are:
- Make it available for download from your Author Website
- Attend Teacher Conferences as a vendor or presenter to share what you have created.
- Check out sites like www.Teachingbooks.org which is a site that gathers teaching materials for books in one place that schools and districts can access.
- Post links to your materials on social media, such as Pinterest or Teacher Facebook Groups.
- Do not forget about Home Schoolers. Check out Home School Organizations for their conferences or web sites where you can share your materials.
We write for children because we want our work to entertain and inspire. Getting our books into classrooms is a great way to widen our reach. Providing engaging materials is a great way to encourage teachers to select our books when they are making those instructional decisions.