Friday, July 8, 2016

Using Lucid Press to Publish Non-Fiction Texts in Middle School

So here is another post that got lost in the queue. It is from a great project that I did with a teacher last year. I have based other projects off this model during this school year. The format could be used for many different projects where the end goal is to share out student work.

I was contacted by +Lynnette Johnson to help support her 7th grade students. She emailed me to tell me that her students would be working on non-fiction text feature project and she wanted help finding the right tool to publish them. Here is her objective for the project - One of the 7th grade Common Core Standards is to “write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content” (CCS W7.2).  Add in standard W7.8 – “Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.” Oh, and how about some grammar and mechanics standards, too? 

My mind immediately went to using iBooks Author. I think Lynette knew that was going to happen because the first thing she said as we discussed solutions was, "We don't have access to iPads, (at the time her class had Macbooks) so I don't want to use iBooks Author." At that time iBooks were designed and built on a Macbook and viewed on an iPad. Now they can be viewed on the laptop as well. We had to find another tool. I immediately turned to my go to resource +Richard Byrne and his blog FreeTech4Teachers. At the end of last calendar year (2014) Richard had lots of top # lists. I used the post for the Top 5 Tools for Creating Multimedia Textbooks. You don't have to be an expert at every tool, you just have to know how to find the right tool when you need it. Between Richard's blog and You Tube I can usually find what I need to steer the teachers that I am working with in the right direction. After looking at all the choices in the list we decided on Lucid Press (@lucidpress) because we are a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) district. 

Students used Lucid Press and their GAFE log in to create non-fiction magazines. We decide before the students started that their audience was going to other students in District 100. After some debate we decided on 4th and 5th grade students. I contacted 4th and 5th grade teachers in our district to ask them is they would be interested in having their students read and give feedback on the student created magazines. Of course they all said yes. They were happy to help. This audience helped framed the way students approached the project. Lynnette overheard students during the planning stage talk about how they would approach this based on the audience that they now had. This is what she overheard - "Your sister is a fourth grader do you think she would know the mean of (a word)? Should I include it in my glossary? This is sense of audience is really beneficial to students! 

Lucid Press has lots of bells and whistles to create a magazine and I would not recommend it for students lower than 4th grade.  I made some tutorials to help students navigate Lucid Press. Lynnette used work for a printing company, so she spent a lot of time conferencing with students and helping them edit their work. Once the magazines were finished we needed to put them into a Google Site in order to share them out with the world. The problem was that we needed the embed codes to put in the Google Site and you could only get the embed codes with a premium membership. I found a work around. They had a free 30 day trial of the premium membership. We were able to sign up the entire class for the premium membership and copy the embed code. I was not sure if after the 30 days the codes would stop working. They are still working today!!!! I made a couple of videos to help students create their accounts and get the embed codes and put them into a Google Form, so that we in turn could put them into the Google Site.
Once we got the codes embedded I created a Padlet wall. The Padlet was set up to be used by the 4th and 5th graders to leave feedback. The Padlet was also embedded into the Google SiteThe younger students were directed to give the name of magazine they read on the 1st line. Then write a sentence about 1 thing that they learned that they didn't know before. Another sentence telling 1 thing they liked about the magazine. It could be about the facts or the layout or the spelling and grammar. Finally, tell 1 thing that we cold improve on for the future. They took it very seriously, and gave some really good feedback to the the 7th graders.

In conclusion - Students use the Internet to do research on thier chosen topic. They used Lucid Press to publish their work as a magazine, Google Forms to gather all of the embed codes in one place, Google Sites to share their magazines with their audience and Padlet to gather feedback.

Here is the link to the project.


  1. Sounds like an awesome app! I love how powerful sense of audience is with kids, so great that they were writing for others!

  2. This is so interesting! I've heard of Lucid Press but so far haven't really checked it out. Thanks for sharing!