The Day is a Morsel

For the past 3 years, I have had the privilege of being part of the Teaching American History Grant. My county applied and received close to a $1,000,000 grant. My role as a participant has been to attend  monthly Saturday workshops and  PLC meetings, attend summer institutes, create lesson plans, study history,  and receive awesome materials! The group has gone on three trips. I only attended the trip to St. Augustine. Not only did I get to learn about teaching history, but I got paid along the way!! Our study has taken us from the Revolutionary War and will end around WW II. It has been an incredible experience. During the Saturday workshops and summer institutes, we have been instructed by authors, professors, and even first person interpreters like Thomas Jefferson, Dolly Madison, and Pocahontas. They were all outstanding!

Last Saturday a wonderful author presented to us for the second time, Elvira Woodruff. She is a writer of historical fiction. Here are just a few of her books:

(I'm so mad that I forget to bring my author's chair! I do have a few signed books though!YEAH!)

Here is Elvira signing my copy of The Memory Coat. Can't wait to share this story with students!

Elvira started the workshop with this quote, "The Day is a Morsel". It simply means that each day is a small piece out of life. It's a bite. We should be making the most of every day. Nice, right?

Most of her presentation centered around her books The Orphan of Ellis Island, The Memory Coat, and Small Beauties. Her presentation is leading us into our study of immigration and her books are perfect! She described how she came up with the ideas and spent months researching the topics. If you are studying immigration with your class you must check out her books. She also suggested downloading photos from the Ellis Island site or you can Goggle~photos of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Have your students study the photo to come up with a story about the people in it. Here are some questions kids could answer about a photo like the one below (we did this as a group and it was fun!):

*What is your name?
*Where did you come from?
*How will you support yourself?
*What did you leave behind?
*Do you speak English?
*How will you help your family?
*Who will meet you?
*What did you carry with you?

We had to use a lot of inferencing skills and creative thinking! Try it!

The last part of her presentation was a quick overview of what she talks to students about during school visits. (She is so worth a school visit. Look into it especially if you are in the northeast. She lives in Pennsylvania.)

Here are some wonderful tips she shares with our youngest authors:
*write in the quietest room
*research your topic
*notice the details around you
*writer's use their memories
*keep journals
*use good and not so good memories for stories
*look out windows and see stories
*no TV-she says it's the biggest killer of creativity (I agree!)
*ask family for story starters
*first time you do something is a great story starter
*let people you know be characters for your stories
*work on a book with a friend especially if one is good at writing and one is good at drawing!
*everything you do can be a story starter

Authors are so inspirational! I know the students always enjoy meeting them and so do I. We have had several visit our school, including Henry Cole who was one of my favorites! Have you had any author visits? Who were your favorites? Any one you wish could visit your school? (I want to meet JK Rowling!)
Please share!

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