If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know I have an especially soft soft-spot for a Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation project called Quebec Roots. I've been involved in the project for more than ten years. It brings together English-speaking students from across our province with a writer and photographer. Which explains what I was doing this morning at McCaig Elementary School with artist-photographer Thomas Kneubuhler and Ms. Fraser's wonderful Grade Five class. (It also explains why I look so happy in this photo, taken with a student named Christopher.)

I gave a mini-writing workshop and Thomas gave a mini-photography workshop, but mostly our task was to help the students come up with a topic for their chapter, which will be published in a real-live book this spring. Thomas and I will help the kids use photos and words to tell a story about their community.

The kids came up with several good topics, but thanks to democracy, they decided on SECRET PLACES. I like this topic a lot because it combines two of my favourite things: secrets and places! We did some brainstorming, some writing, and we also went out for a walk during which the students took some great pictures.

I liked when Thomas told the class, "You have to play." He meant that you have to move around when you take photos -- see what the shot looks like when you are on the ground, or stretched out on a table. I think writers need to play too -- and also work hard! I asked a student named Laurence what she learned about writing, and she told me: "I learned it takes more than one day to write!" That's definitely true for me, Laurence!

A student named Krystal learned something similar about photography. As Krystal put it, "You have to take more than one photo. The first one isn't always perfect."

I liked how Ms. Fraser gave the students this advice when they were taking photos: "Think about telling a story." YES YES and YES! (Did you hear me say YES?!)

We wrote a group poem about the class gecko whose name is Ronnie. It turns out he has a secret place too -- under the paper towel he is supposed to poop on!

I guess it was a day for poop jokes because Dante made us all laugh with the story of his little cousin, who, at a family dinner, made such a big poop that "it exploded and got on her shirt." Uh oh!

A student whom I'll call K described her secret place as "a lot more Zen." (I think K should write a poem and call it "A Lot More Zen.") And Laurence, whom I mentioned before, said, "I like being alone and quiet." Laurence, you can use that line in your writing too.

So I'd say the 2019-2020 edition of Quebec Roots is off to a great start. Thanks to Blue Met for making the project happen, thanks to Thomas for being a super partner, and thanks to Ms. Fraser and your class for being FUN and SMART. (My favourite combination!)