Problem: The idea of the project was born in 2006 when Luis Junqueira began at the Escola do Sítio in Campinas, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, helping teachers in Portuguese classes. His main task was to help sixth grade elementary students write their own books. In 2009, he began to put into practice his method at the Escola Castanheiras in Santana do Parnaíba, also in São Paulo. Unlike traditional standard teaching, the teacher gives individualized attention to each student and works with them on the subject of creative freedom. The project seeks to develop autonomy in adolescents and improve the use of language in the area of literacy, mastering codes from multiple texts, left field language, knowledge of different genres, creative expression according to the rules of context and perception and use of the social meaning of language.
Solutions: The teacher works with the students on their literary production throughout the school year. In the beginning, there is talk of the creation of characters, styles and genres. Then, students start to write their ideas and work on their books. In every class, half of their time is devoted to writing. The teacher takes the texts home and makes a language map of spelling, grammar and literary parties, aimed at providing a customized solution for each text. One commonly used resource are video classes. The teacher records one for each student, pointing out issues that need improvement in the texts and giving tips. After writing, students have contact with an art teacher and a designer to define the images for the book, font type and size, line spacing and layout. Finally, the teacher and the students organize a book release event, where students can autograph and sell their own books.
The next stage of the project, the creation of the First Book platform, began in 2014. This will go live in 2016 and will bring the teaching method developed by Junqueira to a wider audience. The aim is to assist the student in the writing process via a more automated and easy to use tool, where the user can write and have his or her text revised by teachers. He or she will also have access to books written by other students who have participated in the project. In addition, the platform itself will identify difficulties the student may have with spelling or grammar, and will provide help via video classes, interactive exercises and tips on common themes, such as the use of “whys” or the difference between the words “evil” and “bad”.
Outcomes: Students practice writing and the Portuguese language, discover the importance of creativity, feel responsibility and trust for their choices and experience a sense of reward from their work. They become more active independent children and adolescents, including students with special needs, and realize the importance of being authors of their own history. Since the project began, more than 150 books have been published and more than 6,000 pages written. The use of the platform will help to resolve difficulties in spelling and grammar of students, which often take up valuable class time when remedied by teachers. This in turn will free up time for other important issues to be discussed in class, such as creative ideas, narrative focus and autobiography. In 2015, the project will begin to be used in the public sphere, in two centers, in Fundação Casa, in São Paulo, and Campos Salles Elementary School, in Heliópolis, also in São Paulo, and in two schools in São Miguel dos Campos, in the state of Alagoas.