Picaboo Yearbooks and A Backpack Journalist Unite in Their Shared Mission to Give Youth an Outlet for Creative Expression

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Picaboo Portfolio Books have empowered these youth to find their voices and share their stories through a platform that allows their creativity to flourish.

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The partnership between Picaboo Yearbooks and A Backpack Journalist is allowing students to be in the driver’s seat through 21st Century project-based learning.

A Backpack Journalist is a program devoted to helping youth find their voice by presenting them with real world experiences and using critical thinking to share their stories. Through their workshops, students learn to develop 21st Century Learning skills through various modules focused on storytelling, photography and news literacy.

Program manager, Linda Dennis, was so moved by the powerful and poignant depictions as told in the words and photographs of her youth workshop attendees, she began looking for a publishing partner with a shared vision in support of youth self-expression.

Enter Picaboo Yearbooks.

Linda was put in touch with local Atlanta-based dealer, Rhonda Sapp, who helped her develop the foundation for A Backpack Journalist to publish youth-driven books using Picaboo Yearbooks’ intuitive software.

“As an educational consultant for many years, I rarely run across an opportunity to witness students being directly involved with creating, writing, and publishing the actual content they need to master within their classrooms. The partnership between Picaboo Yearbooks and A Backpack Journalist is allowing students to be in the driver’s seat through 21st Century project-based learning,” said Picaboo Yearbooks Dealer, Rhonda Sapp.

“Under Linda’s direction, students are learning required 21st Century skill sets such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and digital literacy. They are creating their own content-driven educational resources through an easy-to-use web app and on-demand printing,” she continued.

A Backpack Journalist provides academic support that not only prepares youth in the expansion of their education, but encourages them to become their own life storytellers. The Picaboo Yearbooks platform was seamlessly integrated into A Backpack Journalist’s curriculum, resulting in an on-going collection of published works written, designed and built within the Picaboo Yearbooks web-based app.

Through their writing and photography workshops, A Backpack Journalist prepares attendees for real world situations where they must use critical thinking skills. Prior to going out in the field and putting their newfound skills to the test, students spend 1-2 days researching and preparing through basic narrative writing, interviewing and photography exercises.

Once they go through their investigative training, students break into groups to tour the venue they are covering. Not only are they prepared, but they can apprehend the information they are presented with and translate it into a factual book.

Providing further in-depth analysis and research, QR Codes are used in their book projects to support their digital storytelling efforts. This allows them to link to video content, such as student-directed interviews with experts such as Park Rangers and Museum Curators.

The first title available for purchase to libraries, schools and consumers nationwide is “Nature Storytelling with Fossils,” which highlights fossils, redwoods, bugs, insects, leaves and the paleontology lab located at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. Filled with full color photos, it offers a glimpse of what existed millions of years ago as life on our world was forming.

“History Comes Alive” and “The Basics of Farming” are two titles that are currently in development and will be available in 2014.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the professional quality of Picaboo Yearbooks' portfolio book option. It allows the written articles and research and photography, produced by the ‘Backpackers’ to take on another dimension beyond just their words and colorful images. These print on demand books also allow A Backpack Journalist to expand our storytelling workshop offerings as a way for students to ‘pay it forward’ with content written by youth for youth,” said Linda Dennis.

The finished printed book and eBooks, which are offered to the students as part of their workshop, is the greatest reward to the students, believes Linda. “Seeing their names in print in a book that shows their work helps in building their self-esteem,” she stated. The books themselves become part of the now-published student’s portfolio as they move forward in their educational careers and are extremely valuable tools for students to showcase their work as they apply for college and scholarships.

Beyond supporting students in their journey of finding their voice through self-expression and exposing them to life experiences that will prepare them for the future, implementing Picaboo Yearbooks has proven successful in other areas, as well, for A Backpack Journalist’s program. Picaboo Yearbooks’ print on demand system has allowed A Backpack Journalist to order the exact amount of copies as needed of a specific title, and the flexibility to make continual updates without charge.

Working with Picaboo Yearbooks as a print publisher has also provided a fundraising opportunity for A Backpack Journalist to give back to the foundations, such as the Friends of Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument Foundation, that fund their free workshops. Proceeds from every book sale go back to the venues that support their hands-on, learning-based curriculums.

A Backpack Journalist has exemplified the Picaboo Yearbooks “No Boundaries, No Limits” position like no program before. They have taken the process of creating a book and have transformed it into a means for youth to pay it forward to others by documenting and sharing what they have learned. The result is a unique opportunity for youth to build their self-esteem and resilience as they harness the power of storytelling and investigative journalism.

“This is modern learning using modern tools. Education today requires we deliver content in a variety of different ways. The delivery of this content is innovative and fresh and is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. And to top it off, A Backpack Journalist is teaching the students 21st Century civic responsibility through their pay-it-forward efforts. I’m thrilled to be working with Linda and looking forward to helping her develop numerous student-driven projects that will build self-esteem, confidence and lifelong learners,” said Picaboo Yearbooks Dealer, Rhonda Sapp.

To learn more about Picaboo Yearbooks, visit http://yearbooks.picaboo.com/.

To learn more about A Backpack Journalist, visit http://www.abackpackjournalist.com/.

About Picaboo Yearbooks

Picaboo Yearbooks (PYB) is a Silicon Valley based company revolutionizing the yearbook industry with the 21st Century Yearbook™ Program. PYB’s mission is to help students develop 21st Century skills through the yearbook creation process, whereby they can create fully personalized yearbooks. PYB’s intuitive web app technology empowers students to focus on generating creative content in a collaborative environment.

With PYB’s innovative platform, there is no minimum order requirement and, therefore, no financial risk. Schools can easily setup a turnkey e-commerce storefront to sell top quality, professional-looking yearbooks, which are printed and delivered within three weeks. PYB also provides a feature-filled eYearbook at no-cost or print obligation. Above all, PYB believes that every student can learn life-long, critical thinking skills through the yearbook creation process. Learn more at http://yearbooks.picaboo.com/.

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Bryan Payne
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