The title of today's blog entry is "Loved My Kids at Allion Elementary School" -- so I'll begin by making clear that I know they are not MY kids. And I also want to make clear that I was only kidding about taking two of them -- Raffique and Javien - home with me!! But I had a great dose of FUN this morning working with Grades Five and Six classes at Allion. I was invited to the school by librarian Tiffany Clarke (that's Ms. Tiffany in the blue blouse to the right in today's pic). The kids were terrific -- focused and interesting and interested. Now it may have helped that school principal Ms. D'Adamo attended my workshops too (she is in today's pic too, at the far right, with blonde hair)! As I told Ms. D'Adamo, in all my years of doing writing workshops, I rarely get to even meet the principal. This was the third time ever that a prinicipal attended the writing workshop. Yay, Ms. D'Adamo, for being such a great sport and role model.And you know what else? Ms. D'Adamo made me a coffee. That's definitely the first time a principal ever made me a coffee -- and delivered it to me in the library!
By the way, I just gave you an example of how little stories and salient details can bring a story (or a blog entry) to life. Don't you love the word SALIENT? (I do.) It means NOTICEABLE. So if you've never heard of it before, you should definitely go ahead and use it!!
I worked with two groups of students -- the first was a combination of fives and sixes, the second group was all sixes. In both groups, I asked for volunteer notetakers. So shout-outs here to Anderson, Madison and Reagan, and later, Arianne, Javien and Mya for recording my writing tips. Maybe you can share the notes with your teachers and they can distribute them to the classes so you will be more likely to remember everything we discussed this morning!
One thing we talked about was the importance of rewriting. I asked the first group whether the fresh writing I plan to do at home later this afternoon will be any good. Olivia shook her head no and explained, "The first draft is never good!" Exactly, Olivia -- and that's basically the secret to all good writing. Rewrite, rewrite and then rewrite some more!
When we were discussing inspiration for stories, Amélie told us about her little sister "who hugs too much if she gets a sugar rush." I thought that that would make a funny, fun story. Get to work on it, Amélie!
One student who caught me eye during my presentation was Noemi. That's because she was sitting in an unusual way -- like she was ready to jump up. I took this sitting position to indicate that Noemi was super interested in my talk. And guess what I learned? A) She was and B) this one is really interesting and fun... NOEMI TRIED OUT FOR LONG-JUMPING YESTERDAY. So I was right to notice her prepared-to-jump-position. When my first workshop was over, Noemi stayed to tell me the following: "I've wanted to be a writer for a long time. Now you've inspired me to write one page every day. Maybe two. I'm going to work my way up." LOVE THAT, NOEMI. Maybe you will find that long-jumping and writing have some similarities such as having to work hard, having fun and keeping your eyes on your goal!
I told both groups about my novel 121 Express, which was inspired when a teacher jokingly described his students to me as "monsters." This story prompted Matesh, a student in the second group, to say, "What if the kids really turned into monsters?!" Great idea, Matesh! You should write that book. If you do, it could turn out to be even better than mine!
Another fun moment happened when I was talking about the importance of trouble in stories (that's because trouble brings life to a story), and I asked the students what they'd think if I wrote a book about a perfect kid, with a perfect family, with perfect friends and even a perfect dog. A student named Bridgid answered, "Meh!" Exactly, Bridgid, it would me MEH and we do not want to write (or read) MEH stories. So make sure your characters and their lives are IMPERFECT!
Thanks to the kids at Allion Elementary for making me so happy today; thanks to your teachers for sharing you with me; to your principal Ms. D'Adamo for EVERYTHING; and to Ms. Tiffany for the invitation and making me so welcome in your library. And hey, one more shoutout to Francesco for today's pic. We took a bunch of pics with all of us standing around, but I wanted a more fun one, and Francesco, you took it! See it's possible to tell stories in all kinds of ways -- through words, but through images too. So get to work on your stories -- and don't forget to have fun too!