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On to the next big thing. You may remember that back in the fall, I was wishing I could bring a Young Authors Conference back to the Heights? Well, I can. And I am.
It’ll be on a small scale, not a major district-wide event, but the entire student body at Fairfax School will spend the month of May creating, writing, revising, illustrating and binding their own individual works of fiction. I’ve settled on Journeys as a theme because it’s broad enough that the kids will have a huge range of topics to choose from and yet concrete enough for them to have a good jumping-off point. They could write a completely fantastical tale of a journey to another world, the moon, the bottom of the sea … or could write a realistic story about a typical family vacation or even a field trip. If they’re advanced enough, they could even use the theme metaphorically to write about a journey through something, like childhood or divorce. The fifth grade classes will be taking all they’ve learned about early American history in social studies to write journeys back to Colonial or Revolutionary America, a la The Magic Treehouse books, and an excellent example of cross-curricular teaching and learning.
I’ll give you all the tiny details if you’re interested but, really, this post is a plea for help. I do have a good team of helpers, especially Amy and Cynthia from Lake Erie Ink who, along with me, have each taken two grade levels to work with throughout the process. But, of course, there are many other ways to get involved, both large and small. I’ll start with the small: The students will be creating their book covers in Art class the old-school way, using wallpaper samples bound over poster board. If you have access to any old wallpaper, especially in designs that might appeal to children aged 5 through 11, I’ll be happy to take it off your hands. I’ve been calling around to the local hardware stores but have only gotten a few discontinued books (one of all brown stripes — clearly, why it was discontinued!). I can come to your house and pick stuff up or you can drop them here, so long as I have it all by April 27.
I also need volunteers to help type the student work. The kids will spend several weeks going through the steps of the writing process, brainstorming, drafting, editing, revising, and so on, but, except for some fourth and fifth graders, few are adept enough at typing to do it themselves without an extraordinary time commitment. So I will collect all the final drafts from teachers by Monday, May 21 and that evening, you are cordially invited to a Typing Party at Lake Erie Ink. I know, we’re wild and crazy gals, huh? Let me know if you’re tempted … or if you’re willing to take a few manuscripts home to type on your own time.
If you’re able and willing to work directly with students, I have a wonderful opportunity for you too. During the Revise & Edit stage (Monday, May 14 through Friday, May 18), students will work in pairs to read and critique one another’s drafts. I am coordinating volunteers to go into the classrooms and oversee peer conferences, working with two students at a time as they offer constructive criticism to their partner. I will provide written tips and instructions, as well as a brief training on the process, if you could give an hour (or more) in either the morning or afternoon that week.
So, if your days are long and empty or you’re feeling particularly unfulfilled and have a strong desire to make a difference in the life of a child…, you know where to find me!