I'm all charged up after our visit this morning to St. Willibrord Elementary School in Chateauguay. I went with my friend, photographer Monique Dykstra. But we were part of a much bigger team -- Florence Allegrini, educational program coordinator for Blue Metropolis Literary Foundation was there, too; so was Louise Abbott, a writer/photographer who is making a documentary about Quebec Roots (that's the project Monique and I are involved in where photographers and authors help Quebec students produce a book about their community); Louise's husband, Niels Jensen, a filmmaker was there, too -- and so was McGill University prof Teresa Strong-Wilson, who has a special interest in stories and how narrative works.
We worked with Kelly Ryan's two grade six classes. Mrs. Ryan is a real dynamo -- and she knows how to keep her students in line. I was quite impressed! I was also impressed with the students. There were about 40 in all -- too many to mention everyone by name, but I wanted to share a few impressions and OBSERVATIONS (you know me by now, always noticing things like body language!!)
So, in no particular order, here are some of the neat things I noticed: There was a student named Journey. Great name, no? Journey, like about half the students in Mrs. Ryan's classes, is Mohawk. I would LOVE to name a character Journey since every story is a journey, with a character ending up in a different place from where he or she started off.
I also met a student named Mallory who has an interesting habit of pulling on the top of her ear when she is thinking. It must have been a day for ears since I also noticed how a student named Allie also plays with her ear -- though in her case, she runs her fingers along the bottom of her earlobe, just under her butterfly stud earring.
Then there was Dalton, a young Mohawk man with a Mohawk haircut!I could tell that Dalton is into stories. His sister invents scary stories and his grandma on his mum's side is an artist. I could feel he has stories of his own to tell, too.
I could tell from a short writing exercise I gave the students that a boy named Joey has a flare for poetry. Joey, if you're reading this blog, get yourself a good anthology of poetry at the school library and start reading. I'd advise you to especially pay attention to modern poetry that DOES NOT RHYME.
I met other students, too, like Jennifer and Josh, who are twins (even though Josh tries to deny it!) and Ryan, who has a great vocabulary and is a history buff. Ryan, once you guys settle on a topic for your project, see if you can do some historical research. One of my favourite writers, British poet William Blake once said: "Dip him in the water who loves to swim." Of course, those words don't only apply to water and swimming -- they mean that we should all try to do the things we love.
I love stories. EVERYONE HAS A STORY. That's what makes life so interesting. Hearing other people's stories makes me happy. What about you? If you can, go and find out someone's story TODAY. All you have to do is ask the right questions -- and then listen carefully (and take notes so you don't forget what you learn).
I'm off to work on the rewrite of my historical novel. Sophie posted a comment on the blog this morning asking if I get to keep the books I review for The Gazette. The answer is YES!! If you guys at Marianopolis ever want to borrow any, all you have to do is ask!
Okay then, next week I'll be borrowing books although, with Robotics, I'm not sure how much time I'll have -- my new idea is that I can fit anything in, I just have to make the time for it. This idea only works up to a certain extent, but, seeing my new schedule, I think I have enough breaks to use a few for reading!
Speaking of finding stories, I learned this morning that one of my friends lived in Australia for two years. She'd never told me, although I suppose the subject never came up in Math or Bio class!!
It was an absolute pleasure to have you and the team visit today. I loved your enthusiasm, which carried over to the children for the duration of the day. I will be presenting your blog tomorrow, so prepare for comments from the gang!
Oh my gosh. From today i noticed this project was gonna be hard work.Then i noticed that some times hard work can be fun because of the way u showed me every thing...I'm very siked to see u again and can't wait to waer different earings next time just for u.On the plus side i will be reading your books in class and by your enthusiasum i think u put alot of emotions in it, so I'm guessing your books are dramatic and Fabulous.well got to jet.Say hi to your daughter and tell her what my name is....Ha ha ha