For the second year, the TA's have been invited to present at the Illinois Reading Council. There were three of us this time; April, Esther and myself, excited about getting the return gig. ("They liked us. THey really liked us!")
Then we got our schedules and realized we were vying with some pretty big names to get an audience. Just off the top of my head; M.T. Anderson (Ironically, the Award Winning Writer from my previous blog!), last year's Newbery winner Rebecca Stead, Jane Yolen, T.A. Barron, Marc Brown, Sara Pennypacker, Robert Burleigh, Mordecai Gerstein and Vaunda Nelson. Yikes! What a line up! I had a flashback to my very first book conference (at a location I will not disclose) where I discovered I was on at the same time as Garrison Keillor!
Given all the literary superstars, the TA's were delighted to have a full house (in a small room!) for our talk on modeling creative writing with your students in a school day that is jam packed with everything but creative writing. Or as one of my daughter's teachers told me,"Creative writing is not on the state tests."
For those of you who were not there, I will be brief in saying that our writing exercise was to write a thank you letter to someone who had influenced your life in some way. (When I heard the phrase "thank you note" I immediately thought of the ones I wrote as a child ---Dear Meemaw, Thanks for the pajamas. They fit. XXXOOO Mary Ann.) And that little gem was an actual example in my third grade grammar book!
Our group did not disappoint. There were letters to parents, former teachers, President Carter, and even one to the Teaching Authors for our program! We asked only for volunteer readers, and it was a rare reader who did not let their emotions overcome them at some point. Now that is good writing, if you can make yourself cry. However, I would not stress having students share with the class. Fourth grade teachers sharing is a lot different from fourth graders sharing (giggling) with the class.
I had to leave before all the Superstars spoke, although I was delighted to be seated next to my former
mentor, M. T. Anderson, during the book signing session. Perhaps one of the other TA's will fill you in on the Big Dinner Speeches.
Esther, Mary Ann and Marie (our mentor/advisor) with April in back.
Notice that even though it was St. Patrick's Day, none of us are wearing green!
Posted by Mary Ann Rodman