In high school, when most students were applying to colleges and searching for scholarships, Manisha Kaura was busy writing educational children books.
Her project, “Rockin’ Root Words,” is a two-part series. The first book is intended for students in third to fifth grade, and the second book is aimed at students in sixth to eighth grade. The books focus on patterns in word origin and word parts.
“It’s to help students of all learning types — visual, auditory, kinesthetic — understand, retain and enjoy what they are learning,” said Kaura, a first-year in political science.
Kaura said her books challenge the outdated 1950s method of simply memorizing vocabulary words and instead tap into students’ innate desire to learn material.
In elementary school, Manisha was frustrated with how she was taught vocabulary, she said.
Kaura took matters into her own hands in fourth grade and began studying her children’s dictionary. She noticed words seemed to stem from the classical languages of Latin and Ancient Greek. After several years of study and note-compilation, she had a consolidated manuscript ready for publication.
“I knew that there had to be a shortcut around memorizing a hundred words a week,” Kaura said.
Her goal is to reform English language instruction in schools across the country, and she believes “Rockin’ Root Words” is a step in that direction, she said.
Prufrock Press published “Rockin’ Root Words” on June 1 — two weeks before Kaura’s high school graduation. Prufrock Press is a publishing company centered on publishing literature for gifted students. Kaura’s editor Lacy Compton worked closely with her.
“I enjoyed working with Manisha; I’m looking forward to seeing the books being incorporated into more schools,” Compton said.
Kaura’s books are already making a headway in classrooms.
Kaura initiated a partnership with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and helped it to be featured on CNN and MSNBC. She also implemented the two linguistics textbooks in the statewide K-8 curriculums in Michigan, Rhode Island and New Hampshire through her partnership with the Q.E.D. Foundation.
The Q.E.D. Foundation is an organization that works with adults and youth to “sustain student-centered school communities,” according to its website.
Kaura is the National High School and College coordinator and director of Student Programs for Rethink Learning Now, which is a branch of the Forum for Education and Democracy. She is also the recent founder of TAPERN: The American Public Education Reform Network and the co-founder of Vocab Tunes, which offers instructional aides for language development in audiovisual format for students in kindergarten through second grade. The DVDs will be released in November.
Still, Kaura is not resting. She plans to receive a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Science in political science and a minor in public policy. She said she will continue to work for educational reform nationwide.