Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Great teachers make great students

My pal, Kirby Larson, writes a weekly blog post called Teacher Tuesday. 

Today is my Teacher Tuesday.

I've had the good fortune of becoming friends with elementary teacher, staff developer, author, and all-around super duper person: Patrick Allen.

Patrick is one of those teachers who is passionate about reading. He generates book-excitement in the classroom, lets his students choose their own books, and then encourages thoughtful discussion.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Great teachers make great students.

[Note: Ironically, Patrick just posted the following quote by Alfie Kohn online: "You don't have to watch truly extraordinary teachers to appreciate their quality; you need only watch their students." That's a much more eloquent way of saying the same thing.]

I recently Skyped with Patrick's 4th graders. I visit a LOT of students and get a LOT of questions, but never have I gotten questions with the level of thoughtful maturity as these.

(These are FOURTH GRADERS, people!!)

Adam:  I’ve noticed that most of your books are pretty emotional, which book was the most emotion-filled to write?

David:  Do you come up with a story randomly or do you get an idea from your surroundings?

Jason:  When you are writing your books do you think about the story beforehand or do you make it up while you write?

Kailey:  I’ve noticed that in your books you seem to always make the situation almost “dark” and you seem to put a light in the story, like a “chance” for the character.  Do you do that intentionally, and why?

Zachary:  How do you get amped up to write when you don’t have the energy?

Tobias:  If you rewrote your first book, would you write it differently?

Morgan M:  We have been studying sensory images and I have noticed that in all of your books there is a gloomy image that slowly transforms into a lighter image.  Can you explain why you do that?

Abby:  When you’re writing about the friendship of your characters, do you go back to your own childhood and do you think of a particular person?

Gracie Brianne:  Do you purposely create a rhythm for the readers because in your books I have noticed that you have put lots of structures of three that have some sort rhythm because I can feel it in my heart as I read?

Jaxon:  Mrs. O’Connor, what has been giving you that fire, will, determination, and stamina to write in all of your years?  P.S.  I love so many structures you use in your writing, like the three things that appear like tumble, tumble, tumble, crack!  I love all the books you’ve wrote and can’t wait for a new one of your books to come out.

Cailin:  When you sit down to write, what are your goals for writing your books and why?

Krystal:  How do you decide which personality each character is going to have because what I’ve noticed is that the characters in most of your books are all so different, but in the end they all come together? 

Tatum:  What book impacted you the most and why? 

Amanda:  I noticed in the books I read of your books the characters always live in a not very nice town and do you base that on something that happened in your life? 

Bryan:  In the books I’ve read there’s always a nosy person, a worried person, a person who wants to change something, and a guardian angel.  Why?

Macie:  How do you decide what the idea is when you start to write the book.

Morgan K.:  Have you ever met someone who made you realize you could write an amazing book with their story and/or personality and why did they make you realize “it”?

Chloe:  I have noticed that in your books sometimes the mood is dark and sometimes the mood is light.  If you were to rank your books, which book would have the lightest mood?

Marcus Xavier:  How did your dad inspire you to write?

Maddie:  On the cover of How to Steal a Dog I noticed it said, “Georgina Hayes may be homeless, but not hopeless.”  How did they decide to write that?

Jade:  Out of all your books, what’s your favorite line.  Why is it your favorite line and what is that line?

Would you ever get together with an artist to create a picture book?

Blake:  Why in The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester did you choose to write about a submarine and Tooley and is there a connection to How to Steal a Dog?

Seneca:  I’ve noticed in some of your books that there are kind of mean kids and mean adults.  Do you do that purposely so maybe some people will start to stop bullying?

Now, those kids have a great teacher.

You should check out Patrick's blog here.

And some of his books here

And DVD here

Thank you to Patrick and all the other great teachers out there.

Students love you.

Authors love you.

1 comment:

Holly Mueller said...

Wow! I love those questions! Now I'm going to have to go back and reread all your books to notice all the symbolism, rhythms, and archetypes you've got in them!:-) I'd love to hear all your answers!