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Authentic Learning Idea: What If Every Student Could Be a Published Author?

Updated: May 18, 2023

As a teacher, I was always looking for authentic learning ideas. However, authentic learning was not always easy or feasible in a formal educational environment, so I was always looking for simple ideas.

What if I told you that turning every student into a published author is not only feasible, but also easy?

In a matter of minutes, anyone can publish a book to Amazon for free.

It’s true, and completely possible using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

What is Authentic Learning?

According to the Education Glossary, authentic learning connects what students are learning with the real world. This could include real-world issues, problems, and applications. Authentic learning provides context to learning outcomes for students.

Examples of authentic learning include:

  • Students create a public service announcement (PSA) and post their PSA to the school’s social media outlets.

  • Students create solutions for getting fresh drinking water to a remote school.

  • Students run a school store for their entrepreneurship class.

  • Students prepare a meal for a school fundraiser.

  • Students plant a garden to learn about photosynthesis, plant science, and soil composition.

A school garden is an example of authentic learning.

Why Published Authors for Authentic Learning?

Publishing your work is one of the most authentic learning experiences one can have. I always think of spiral-bound books. Schools have been sending home these spiral-bound books for decades. Move the spiral-bound book into the 21st century with a professionally printed book!

Move your classroom or school from spiral-bound books to professionally published books.

Book publishing offers a host of authentic learning opportunities for educators. Students could publish:

  • Any fiction and/or non-fiction writing

  • Portfolios, such as culminating portfolios or an art portfolio

  • Children’s books

  • Books of poems

  • Books of writing samples

  • Cookbooks of recipes representing different cultures

  • How-to guides

How amazing would it be for students to be able to add to scholarship, college, and job applications that they are a self-published author?

And since it costs $0 to publish a book to Amazon, this is an equitable strategy.

Some jobs and college majors, such as graphic design and other art fields, require portfolios. A professionally-printed portfolio is bound to impress potential employers and admissions officers.

Books also create memories for life. My mom still has a spiral-bound book that I wrote in the third grade. It is a trip down memory lane as well as a real-life record of my learning through the years.

What is Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)?

KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing tool and is one of the tools I used to publish A Teacher’s Guide to Online Learning. During the process of self-publishing my book, I had a lightbulb moment that made me realize how easy it would be to use KDP to make every student a published author. It really is a modern-day reality!

With KDP, anyone with an Amazon account can create an Amazon listing of a paperback, hardback, and/or eBook. Paperback and hardbacks on KDP are printed on-demand, which means that books are only printed when they are ordered. This means that you don’t have to guess at how many books to order or pay for books in large quantities. It is a publisher's dream come true!

KDP’s print-on-demand service prints any type of bound book in professional format:

  • Novels

  • Children’s books

  • Cookbooks

  • Journals

  • Textbooks

KDP does not print spiral-bound books, magazines, or newspapers. Books can be black and white or color, although color is significantly more expensive. Books come in a range of sizes (called trim size).

And most importantly, the print quality is fantastic. I guarantee that if you saw a KDP-printed and traditionally published book next to each other on a bookshelf, you would not be able to tell the difference between the two. Here is a picture of a stack of the paperback KDP-printed version of my book for quality reference:

A stack of "A Teacher's Guide to Online Learning" books that were printed by KDP.
My book that was printed from KDP.

Why KDP?

First of all, a benefit of using KDP is that students maintain full rights to their work as they are self-publishing.

The process of setting up a book in KDP is quick (I am talking a few minutes), easy, and completely free. KDP even provides a free ISBN, which is a requirement of any published book. Once the book is set up in KDP and goes live on Amazon, the student will have a real-life link to their book listing.

Ordering copies is the only cost associated with the entire process. However, as the owner and publisher of the book, students can set the book price at the minimum amount possible. Amazon will tell you exactly what the lowest price can be; this amount includes the cost to print and Amazon’s royalty. The cost of a book depends on many factors (size, number of pages, paperback or hardback, black and white or color) but can be as low as a few dollars.

Since KDP creates a live Amazon listing, students’ family and friends can easily order copies directly from Amazon, making it simple and easy for the teacher/school.

How Do You Publish a Book with KDP?

I have created a guide that includes step-by-step instructions for publishing books on KDP. This will give you everything you need to make this happen in your classroom or school. And the instructions and tips were created specifically for educators. Look for the apple icon throughout the guide to find specific teacher tips! Make sure to review the “Tips and Things to Know” section as it includes some important considerations.

The Kindle Direct Publishing Guide will show you how your students can become published authors.

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