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High school authors go right to the source for literary feedback – UCS elementary students
High school authors go right to the source for literary feedback – UCS elementary students
Posted on 04/21/2021
Student raising hand with book in the backgroundWhen Utica Center for Science and Industry teams wanted feedback on the children’s books they were writing, they went right to their target audience – a group of elementary students right down the road from them.
UCSI ninth graders wrote and illustrated an original piece of work that drew on concepts they have learned in different classes through the year. To see how their messages would play to young children, they went to DeKeyser Elementary third graders for their feedback.  
“Basically, we looked at the books and let them know what they can do to improve them or things we did not like,” said Dekeyser Elementary third grader Jackson Zyskowski. “It was a lot of fun – we were able to point things out. We hope this was helpful.”
The CSI ninth-graders worked in teams to write and illustrate a children’s book that would reflect their mastery of geometry, their design skills using the drawing software Adobe Illustrator, and their understanding of literary terms such as characterization and plot.
“The goal in partnering up with the elementary students was to allow the ninth graders to have an authentic audience - make the project have a greater purpose than just presenting to their teachers,” said UCSI teacher Andrea Luba.  “We also hoped this would allow the elementary students to see work from an older student in hopes that they recognize that what they learn at an early age carries over year after year.” 
Ethan Halbert was among a team of students who wrote Sam the Sphere’s Awesome Encounter. 
“It was a lot of fun for us to work together and be creative,” he said.
The team - which was comprised of Halbert, Sara Colasanti, and Mitchell Lopez – worked together to tell the story of Sam - a character with a different geometric shape than others in his community.
“It’s about how you need to treat people the same,” Lopez said. “They don’t understand him because they have straight edges and his are round.”
During the review process, DeKeyser students reviewed the cover and suggested changes that made it clearer that Sam the Sphere was outside a school building. Students are making changes based on the feedback, and have plans to read their final product to the DeKeyser students.
“When the 9th graders learned they had an authentic audience they became a bit more nervous about the project. They were also surprised by the feedback the kids gave - it was eye-opening for them to learn that the little ones are critical and have high expectations,” Luba said. 
DeKeyser’s Jackson said he hopes that the high school students take their suggestions to heart. 
“I hope we were able to share with them that always try your best and learn from your mistakes,” he said.