What can you learn from doing something out of your comfort zone? From trying something completely new to you? Today’s case study showcases the learning that happened from a 10th grade class assignment to write & publish a kindle book.
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After about two weeks of step-by-step lessons, they had an assignment towards the end of the class to write and publish a kindle book. The final project of writing and final publishing took Josh a month and James an extra few months due to other things going on in their schedules.
The specific assignment was to write a kindle book travel guide on the area that they were from using lots of links and references to websites already on the Internet. They were to write on their home area since that was familiar to them and they were to summarize the reviews that were available at the time on popular travel review sites.
What we knew going in
Before this project, James and Josh knew nothing about kindle books – I take that back. They knew that books could be read on a kindle. Is it a digression to mention that we own these devices because so many classic texts are free on kindle and the devices are sold cheaply around cyber Monday? Homeschoolers love free resources! A kindle is also handy to have around while traveling. I still like to hold an actual book, but I’m old school.
What we learned
Along the way of completing the project, either through the individual class lessons or just by writing a kindle book, my 10th graders learned so much! They learned technical skills such as using Bitly to assign short links and using Canva to design graphics and make a book cover. They learned all the details of setting up an amazon account to publish kindle books and then publish one including making descriptions of the contents. There were a LOT of tiny details, but they did them in a step-by-step way and completed the task.
Probably the most fun that they had was in researching our local area. James and Josh’s books are very similar, as you might expect from two people writing on the same subject who live in the same home town. But they each had their own take on it.
James’ kindle book, Denver & Colorado Guide is more theme-oriented with a sub-title of “Bikes, Brews, Skiing & Rocky Mountains”. Fort Collins is known as one of (if not THE) top cities for biking every year and there are more than 20 local breweries in Northern Colorado. Plus, skiing, of course. James and I even went on a few brewery tours (the non-alcoholic versions). These always fascinate me since I love factory tours. James’ book also includes some of the local “escape room” businesses, because he wants to try one sometime. And while we didn’t get to do it during the research for the book, he now knows where he might want to try.
Josh’s kindle book, Activities To Do, Places To Go, And Things To See In Northern Colorado: A Guide to the Rocky Mountain Area, including Denver, Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and Estes Park slants towards a location-oriented look at Denver metro area, Northern Colorado and then a section just for the Rocky Mountain National Park which is highly recommended if you are ever in the area. He included and ranked his favorite hikes in RMNP because he always enjoys a visit up to Estes Park.
Fun fact: RMNP’s Trail Ridge Road which crosses the park in an up and over route, closes annually to motorized travel, bicycles and pets. The backcountry skiers are known to use the route as a trail during those winter months!
What we learned
The biggest thing we achieved with the publishing of these two kindle books was not the monetary compensation of $27 in our first year of release, nor was it the feedback on the Amazon reviews. It was the sense of accomplishment.
The feedback was actually constructive. Yet it feels so impersonally harsh! As if the commenters don’t know it was a 10th grader who wrote that particular kindle book! The best feedback was that the books needed graphics. Perhaps James and Josh will go back over their masterpieces one day with a camera in hand and release a second edition! The monetary compensation actually comes mostly from people who read the book on kindle unlimited – they don’t pay for the book, but you get paid for the pages read by kindle unlimited users. So if you have a kindle unlimited account – go ahead and skim through these two books! (Unabashed self-promotion there!)
Yet, the best thing learned from this experience was being a published author. I don’t mean to equate this with true writers who are advancing literature, but I think it is pretty cool that my two 10th graders made a book that people could actually buy!
For the future
The key to their assignment was just to write something super easy & fast. The content did not require a lot of creativity or thought. Just go out and get the information that was already available, summarize it and wrap it up in one neat package. In this way, they could learn the process of how to publish a kindle book. Will they need these skills learned someday? Business is changing, as is publishing. By practicing now, two 10th graders could be ready to use this skill in the future if needed.
All in all, this worked well for us. My sons wrote books! Published authors! I can’t wait to try it too. All I need is an easy subject! If you’d like to learn more about other high school learning, be sure to look at recommended ways not to panic in high school or ways to get college credit during high school. Good luck on your journey!