You're probably wondering what in the world is going on in today's pic! For one thing, you're looking at a photo of a photo, taken by students at St. Mary's Elementary School in Longueuil. In fact, it's a photo of St. Mary's. And to the right, that's me working on-line with Ms. Gerlick's class.

My fellow Monique -- photographer Monique Dykstra -- was also Zooming with us. We were "there" for our second visit for a wonderful Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation project called Quebec Roots. Teams of writers and photographers are traveling across Quebec, helping students produce a chapter for a real-live book that will be published this spring.

This year, the schedule is a little tighter for our project. We were at St. Mary's a few weeks ago, when the students came up with the brilliant topic of SILENCE. Since then, they've been taking photos and writing about silence. Both the photos and the writing wowed the Moniques! I'm used to teaching CEGEP students, and of course I love that age group, but the thing about younger kids -- these ones are in Grades Five and Six -- is that I think they feel more free to experiment in creative ways.

Monique D had read the students' first drafts, and she had this to say about their writing: "You showed me how to see the world from a kid's eye-view." (I was so proud that I immediately wrote that down in my notes!)

When the final book comes out, you'll see that the photos are astonishing. There was one of a girl, her face lit up ever-so-slightly... well, it gave me shivers. (That happens to me when I see something beautiful or hear something that I think would make a great story!)

If I may say so myself, I sometimes come up with cool ideas! Reading the kids' pieces inspired me to test out a new exercise. I asked them, "If you could shout at silence, what would you say?" and "If you could whisper to silence, what would you say?" We came up with two "group poems" in which students just called out their ideas and I acted as a scribe, and made a few small edits. My favourite line in the whispering to silence poem came from a student named Gillan: "I'd say thank you for cancelling out the chaos." That gives me shivers too!

The students will keep working on their photos and texts. Monique D and I will keep giving them feedback over the next couple of weeks. Ms. Gerlick has been working wonders with these kids. Our first visit was in-person, and virtual visits are always a little tougher -- but the kids were focused and working hard till the last moment of yesterday's workshop.

Thanks as always to the kids; to Ms. Gerlick; Ms. Beauregard, CLC coordinator who found us Ms. Gerlick; to resource teacher Ms. Paluzzi -- and to Blue Met for sending the Moniques out on such fun assignments!