Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Using Print on Demand to Publish Your Own Books


Print on demand is a service getting very mature because of digital publishing revolution, it is also an excellent tool for education. This guest blog post from Peter Pappas will tell you some examples.
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New print technologies make it very easy to publish your own books. No need for the information gatekeepers to decide what we read. I’m showcasing a few approaches that may be of interest to my readers.

Reading recovery teacher publishes new line of early literacy book

MaryAnn and I worked together in the East Irondequoit Central School district while I was the Assistant Superintendent and she was the lead Reading Recovery teacher. I was not surprised when she recently started writing and publishing emergent texts. Although not my area of expertise, it certainly is MaryAnn’s.  She has a remarkable background in and passion for early literacy. She came to the East Irondequoit district just for the opportunity to train in and practice Reading Recovery.

Print on Demand, digital publishing

MaryAnn’s Short Tale Press, features “little” books for early literacy that are based on real people and places and authentic life experiences. I can see my own grandchildren in her main character, Colin. This makes her books very appealing to modern children.  Parents and grandparents would be wise to visit her website when gift time rolls around, which we know is all the time! They are also written to be appropriate for students in Reading Recovery, ESL and classroom guided reading.   Visit her website-there is always a new text there – she is a prolific writer / publisher.

Out of print author tired of rejections turns to self publishing

My dear friend and mentor – Abe Rothberg got tired of rejection notices for his latest works of fiction. Ironic – since his previous books were published by mainstream publishers and favorably reviewed in NY Times, Harper’s, Time Magazine, and Publishers Weekly. Plus he was frustrated to see that his previous work had gone out of print.

We decided to cut out the middleman  – team up and bring a new series of his work into publication. He supplied the manuscripts. I formatted them in Word and converted them to PDF. I designed the covers in Photoshop. We created a free account to publish the books on demand at Lulu.com – a print-on-demand publisher. For more on Abe and his books go to to his site – Abraham Rothberg .

Teachers – it’s your turn to become a publisher for your students’ writing

I think we need to re-think how we teach writing with a shift in focus from teacher to student.

Old approach:

  • Students are asked to write only on the teacher’s topics.
  • Student writes for the teacher.
  • Teacher grades their writing.

New approach:

  • Students can develop topics that matter to them.
  • Audience and purpose for writing is identified.
  • Students are asked to reflect on their growth.

We all struggle to create authentic writing experiences for our students. Imagine if they had an opportunity to see their work in print – and we’re talking about a real paperback.  Let them go through the process of writing, co-editing, illustrating and designing a book. Rigor and relevance meets motivation and self-directed study. I’ve gotten so excited by the results that I’ve done workshops to train teachers. You can see material and sample student books at my website Read > Think > Write > Publish

BTW – I’ve been following Theresa Reagan on Twitter. She’s an Elementary Principal from Michigan who is making great use of Lulu to publish student work.  See her students’ books on their Lulu page.

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 About Peter Pappas :

Peter Pappas is a very experienced educators and an education thought leader. This is his brief biography.

I am proud of my life-long career in public education – especially the 25 years I spent as a teacher. For over 20 years, I have worked with school districts, state DOEs, leading educational organizations and companies to improve the quality of teaching and learning. I provide training and consulting services across the United States and internationally.

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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