When educators in Wasilla, Alaska, were searching for a science curriculum that students at the local alternative high school could incorporate into their daily lives, they had to look no further than the side of the road.
That’s where about 30 students in Tim Lundt’s biology class first encountered a dead 2-year-old cow moose. They decided to use the animal for several yearlong science projects that included making moose jerky, reassembling the moose’s skeleton, and writing and marketing a “Moose in a Pot” cookbook.
“A lot of these kids rely on moose as a part of their diet,” said Mr. Lundt, who paid for the project with a $5,000 grant from the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. “We taught them everything from butchering to canning to wrapping.”
Senior Carolyn Laliberte said even the more delicate aspects of the project were interesting. “Putting the moose together was frustrating. You had to stand there for 20 minutes just holding the bones,” the 18-year-old said. “But I learned so much more than I would have from a book.”
Students at the 200-student high school then gathered recipes for moose meat from relatives and teachers to incorporate into their cookbook. So far, it has sold more than 300 copies at $13 each. Proceeds from the sales of the book, which shares such favorites as moose spaghetti, will be applied to future school projects.
It took seven years for teacher Jo Anne Kay to organize a trip to Yellowstone National Park for her students, but only a few weeks to publish the poems and stories chronicling their adventure.
Thanks to Chapbooks for Learning, based in New York City and Boston, Ms. Kay’s 5th graders at Tetonia Elementary School north of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and students at some 60 other schools throughout the country have delighted in seeing their names, and their writing, in print.
Founded last year, Chapbooks for Learning helps schools create their own paperback anthologies filled with the poetry, stories, journal entries, and literary meanderings students produced for class assignments. Low-cost technology has made the endeavor more affordable.
The books, which participating teachers say have proved to be strong motivators for getting students to take writing seriously and have been the basis for long-term writing projects, are often produced for only about $250 for a minimum order of 50 books.
--Jessica L. Sandham & Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 1999 edition of Education Week