Monday, February 25, 2013

Great teachers help produce great students

I had the pleasure of teaching writing workshops at Downey Elementary School in Westwood, MA, recently.

It was one of the best experiences I've ever had in a school.

The excitement in the air was palpable.

I was greeted by this:

When I signed in in the front office, the receptionist told me how excited the school was about my visit.

The parent volunteer was busily working on the many, many book orders they had.

The teachers were friendly, enthusiastic and 100% engaged in the workshops.

The principal was ever-present throughout the school, smiling and calling each child by name.

The media specialist was welcoming (and happily rearranged her schedule to accommodate my issues with that darn blizzard we had), displayed my books throughout the library and had made sure they were available for all classes.

And the students? Well, they could NOT have been more prepared, more enthusiastic, more respectful, or more friendly. They put 100% effort into the workshops. And one thing I loved: if a student read a particularly good piece of writing, the others complimented him/her and occasionally even clapped.

They sent me this the night before the Show, Don't Tell workshop to show me how they couldn't wait for my visit the next day. 

I loved hearing about and seeing how the students had prepared for my visit and used my books for projects.

One class made a display of various elements that they were "tracking" as they read my books.

Here are some of them:

I am tracking to try to find 4 little clues that the author is scattering into the story to help me solve the mystery.

I'm tracking 8 examples of repetition in the story. [AND] I am tracking examples of where the 2 plots might connect.

I am tracking examples of how the 2 main characters' traits change throughout the story.

I am tracking similes in The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis.

I am tracking the author's use of onomatopoeia and I'm finding 10 examples of it throughout the story.

I'm tracking 5-6 distractions that get in the way of solving the problem.

I am tracking how the main character's motivation to steal the dog increases because of the different events. I will have 4-5 examples.

I'm tracking how the author is showing something about herself through the story.

 Aren't those great?!

Those teachers were great.

Those students were great.

I love seeing how those two things go hand in hand.

And how can you not love a teacher who looks like this on Crazy Hair Day? Thank you, Ms. Carbone and all the teachers at Downey.



Kirby Larson said...

Thank you, Barbara, for taking time to shine the spotlight on this wonderful school's teachers and through them, on all the hard working teachers and librarians in this country!

Wild About Words said...

This special day may or may not have an effect on testing, but I assure you this is the day that will live on in these students' memories. Love it!