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You Don’t Know Me

Secondary students create a powerful multimodal anthology in the style of a contemporary handwritten journal.  The finished project is a collection of personal writing, drawings, and photographic self-portraits that deal with topics directly related to the lives of the students, such as school life, friendship and self-identity.



Teacher, Andrew Adams' main goal in creating this project was to give his students a way to express their hopes, dreams, and experiences. The published anthology validated those experiences in a very powerful way.


Provide examples of multimedia journals such as "Spilling Open" by Sabrina Ward Harrison for your students to explore and discuss.

Google the words "Spilling Open journaling ideas” and click on images. You will find many examples of this kind of journal. The focus here is looking at the way these kinds of texts are put together and how authors can craft personal writing to make it powerful for their readers.


Materials Needed

  • Dollar store notebooks for each student
  • Digital point and shoot camera
  • Computer(s)
  • Fine point black felt tip pens
  • Wite-Out

In pairs, or small groups, students discuss questions such as the following:

  • What is the purpose of a journal?
  • How do the personal anecdotes, poetic language, graphics and photographs work together?
  • What techniques and/or stylistic devices have been used? Why might this be?
  • Is it effective? 
  • How might you craft your own writing in a similar way?


Provide students with their own writer’s notebook to personalize e.g. with quotes, drawings, photos, personal writing, poetry, Quickwrites, etc. 

Encourage students to try out many different ways to express their thoughts, feelings, and understandings about the things in their own lives that might be worth writing about.


During this phase of the project the students:

  • select a piece of writing from their writer’s notebook that they are comfortable sharing with others and which they feel has the potential to interest and move an outside audience of peers
  • use the writing process to draft, refine, revise and edit their writing 
  • give and receive feedback from peers and teacher during the crafting of their text.
  • decide on revisions they want to make and continue to work on drafts of writing until they are satisfied with it
  • edit their final piece which is then proofread for spelling and usage.
  • begin to think about an important theme that is evoked in their writing and consider how they would represent that theme visually in a photographed self-portrait 
  • students are given the opportunity to shoot their self-portraits.

You can find information for working on the photography part of the project here.


Once the written text is ready for publication, the students have to put the different elements together to resemble a page in a journal. They create a rough draft of their page layout (photo, text and drawings), using the following guidelines:

  • Use the entire page as your canvas.
  • Think about what you want to communicate with your photo and written text. 
  • Decide where to place the photo.
  • Decide whether or not to make any adjustments to your self-protrait, e.g. writing on it, accenting sections with Wite-Out, drawing speech bubbles right on the photo, etc.
  • Do not be confined by the lines on the page; your print text can be written at any angle.
  • Use black pens to write your text and add any extra lines, squiggles, decorations, that you think will add to the overall feeling of your page.

Once students are satisfied with their mock up of their page, they create their final draft on good paper. (Note: At Laurenhill, both rough and final drafts were hand-written on lined-paper, in order for the book to resemble a journal. Individual teachers might decide on a different format.)

Choose an editing team to take responsibility for the compilation of the book. 

Roles and responsibilities for the editing team can include:

  • Layout editor
  • Proofreading
  • Deciding on the organizational structure of the book, e.g. by theme
  • Selecting pieces to be included in the book based on criteria determined at the beginning of the project

Once the class book has been edited and formatted by the editing team, it goes to print. Celebrate the successful completion of the project, e.g. a book launch.


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