Skyping with Older Students and “What I Love Most.”

My published picture books are aimed at the youngest readers, so teachers of 2nd-12th graders often wonder what I can do in their classrooms. Why Skype with an author who writes kiddie books?2012-10-11_12-04-38_147

With older students, we usually talk more about writing and I often share with them my Top Ten Super Secret Writing Tips. We may do a group writing exercise or some project sharing.

So what is this “project sharing”?

Often in my Skype visits students will share artwork or writing or other projects they’ve created based on one of my books.

For example, a fifth grade classroom in Seattle did an full study of LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. And in that study they learned that my inspiration for the book came from my dear friends in Uganda and they asked why. And those same kids studied East Africa and discovered that safety and security and sense of place were the universal truths in the book and they researched why. Then they learned that the blanket, white and red, had great importance to the theme. And from all that, they created their own beautiful wall quilt that covered their entire room and they gave me a tour of it over Skype. AMAZING!

One class wrote free verse poetry using TIME OUT FOR MONSTERS! as a mentor text.Time-Out-for-Monsters-cover1

The list goes on and on.

But sometimes, their projects or writings have little nothing to do with any of my books. And that’s fine. Whether it’s art or poetry or stories or journal entries or essays, their work is all their own. And they share it with me. And I’m honored and privileged that they let me peek into their world for those few minutes.

When students share their work like this, I offer each of them my 30-second “What I love most …” critique. This is one of my favorite parts of the visit because it allows me to connect one-on-one with a student and honor their creativity. This isn’t an “every kid gets a trophy” shout out. This is me, letting a brave young author or artist or poet know that someone sees him, hears him, respects his work and applauds his willingness to create and share – in public. That deserves celebration, don’t you think?

 

 

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