Inventors Club Project History
In 2002, Kimberly Morris of Publishing Matters was engaged by HISD’s Sharpstown Learning Community to design and develop a collaborative writing and publishing project in which the entire Sharpstown Learning Community could participate.
The Sharpstown Learning Community is a group of four schools serving an ethnically diverse population of students in grades K-12. We defined the goals of the project, by asking ourselves the following questions:
Thus, The Inventors Club was conceived, a book series in the tradition of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Goosebumps, The Boxcar Children, Lemony Snicket, Captain Underpants, and The Time Travel Trio.
The finished product would have high entertainment values designed to appeal to young readers. It would also incorporate academic content designed to appeal to teachers and provide a variety of cross curriculum teaching applications.
Phase I would concentrate on content gathering from grades 4 – 8, and incorporate that content into a manuscript.
Phase II will take the original manuscript and incorporate more science content generated by grades 9-12, and more art content generated by grades 1-5.
The project kicked off in January of 2002 with Phase I underwritten by a Houston Annenberg Challenge Grant. A core group of participating teachers formed a creative development team that met with author Kimberly Morris on Monday afternoons from .
Those brainstorming sessions resulted in the creation of four characters, settings, tone, and a plot synopsis. Writing and drawing prompts related to inventing were distributed to students. A syllabus relating the topic of invention to all academic disciplines was distributed to teachers. Teachers went into the classrooms with the materials and came back to the creative meetings with new ideas, fresh input, and endless amounts of creative energy.
The project culminated with 50 classroom visits by Kimberly Morris to facilitate student participation, present creative writing workshops, and review material with students. Group creative meetings produced powerful synergy resulting in the following major story elements:
It was now time to start putting all the pieces together.
Every submission, every worksheet, every drawing, every doodle, every conversation, every classroom visit, every teacher suggestion, and every raised hand in a class provided an important piece of this sprawling jigsaw puzzle of a writing project. At least 350 students participated, and 266 turned in permission slips that would allow usage of their name as a creative contributor when the book is published.
By the end of the process, this large and diverse group of students and adults had created a story set in a place we recognize, with characters we care about, and filled it with smart and funny invention ideas designed to solve a variety of problems ranging from urban transportation to facial wrinkles.
It is a VERY cool project.
If you would like to find out how your school, corporation, or district can participate, please contact Kimberly Morris.