This morning, I did four writing workshops at Centennial Park School in Chateauguay. I told the students I planned to treat them the same way I treat my students at Marianopolis College -- even though the kids at Centennial are way younger! In fact, one class I worked with today consisted of kids in kindergarten and Grade One, and the oldest Centennial Park students I met today were in Grades Three and Four! But you know what? I managed to cover a lot of the material I do with much older students at Marianopolis! So if you're reading this blog entry, Centennial Park students, congrats for working so hard and paying such close attention to my writing tips!
I started the day with Miss Fruciano's Grades Three and Four class. There, during one of my writing exercises, a student named Jackson came up with a great idea for a book. Jackson gave me permission to quote his idea in today's blog. Here goes: "My book would be about a dog and a boy who go to a hockey game." Now that's definitely a book I would want to read! And when we were discussing writing tips, a student named Conor raised his hand and said, "In the book Captain Underpants, George says, 'the best way to make a story is to create characters.'" I love Conor's comment because it shows he's a reader who pays attention, and also because I agree with George. The best stories tend to be what we call "character-driven" -- meaning that the plot (what happens in the story) is determined by the characters who people the story.
I spent second period with Ms. Kustec's Kindergarten and Grade One class. I must say these kids were super cute and super smart! I learned that it was Emma's birthday. It turns out that several kids in this class are already avid writers -- including Emma, who told me, "I'm already starting to write books. I'm writing about unicorns." Because most of the kindergarteners in the class don't yet know how to write, I let them draw pictures for the writing exercise -- and that turned out to be fun. Plus I got to see some wonderful, creative drawings!
In today's pic, that's me with Miss McGee and her Grades Two and Three class. Miss McGee had already taught her students how to write an "information" book, but I hope they learned a little from me about writing fiction. One thing I discussed with this class was the connection between memory and fiction writing. A student named Brendan told me he learned that, "We need to remember stuff." That's absolutely true, Brendan -- and writing about your memories will help you remember even more interesting stuff! For their writing exercise, I asked Miss McGee's students to write about a memory from when they were five years old. I loved how a student named Cassandra started her piece: "I smell cats." Which got me wondering -- what do you think of The Smell of Cats for a book title? (I love it!) Cassandra, get to work on that book!!
I ended today's visit to Centennial Park with Miss Lacey's Grades One and Two class. These kids were super listeners and participators -- even though it was the period before lunch and I bet they were hungry! My only regret is that I didn't ask the name of the boy who helped me pack my book bag! But if you're reading this, young man, I want to say that when I look back on my fun day, that is a very sweet memory. Thanks for being so helpful and kind.
Life at schools around the world has been pretty stressful lately -- with everyone worrying about contracting the Covid19 virus. But today's visit to Centennial Park reminded me of how wonderful and heartening it is to be around young students. I'm scheduled to return next week -- if our schools remain open. In the mean time, wash your hands, be kind to each other, read a lot, and WRITE WRITE WRITE!!!
Special thanks to ELAN'S ArtistsInspire program, to Madame Sirois for arranging today's visit, to the teachers for sharing their students, and to the students for making me so happy!