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Redigerat: jun 17, 2007, 3:08 pm

Hi, I will be visiting schools in the fall, reading and showing art from my books. Do most elementary schools and middle schools have the equipment which will allow me to do a slide show of art with powerpoint?

Also, what would teachers like to see visiting authors explore with kids 5-12?

I'd very much appreciate all the suggestion you can offer me.

jun 18, 2007, 2:16 pm

Your larger urban or suburban districts often have similar technology throughout their system. As a sub in the Kansas City area, I'd say that most of the libraries are well equipped at least. I would figure that the auditoriums would be well-equipped but I don't know for sure. If you're visiting classrooms, it may vary a bit more...

jun 18, 2007, 2:32 pm

I am a retired middle school teacher, 5 years out, so things probably have changed; however, my experience is that schools, classrooms, vary wildly in equipment available. Suggest you check ahead as you go.

Middle school kids like to talk to each other so if you can include some peer sharing in your presentation I bet it will work. Also, ask them for their advice in reaching other kids their age.

Have fun. Good luck.

4jmeacham Första inlägget
jun 18, 2007, 3:46 pm

I teach at an elementary school, in a rural area. We are a 4K-High School school (connected, but separate). We have the technology that you'd need, and I'd encourage you to present your information that way, too. You might want to contact the school to be sure though. As for content of your presentation, some of the things that my early elementary children have struggled with when illustrating their story is the whole concept of size and proportion. The use of color and detail in an illustration would also be a great topic. I wish you were coming to my school! I love having my kids illustrate and write stories. WE talk about how the text must match the illustration, yet the illustration and text complement one another also, often providing the reader with information that the other does not give. Does that make sense? For example, our text and illustration often answers who, what, when, where, why, but they don't often BOTH do that, that's why we must pay attention to both (text and illustration) - - to seek answers as we read.

Redigerat: jun 18, 2007, 10:44 pm

I'm grateful for your replies and I'd like to continue to use this group as a resource, if I may. I am confident when I address adult audiences, but when it comes to schools children, I begin to sweat.

I haven't had a huge amount of experience, although I have visited classes and assemblies of all ages. I've done just fine, but now that September is approaching, I am worrying once again about my material.

My first two books were adult nonfiction books (with full color art). The last two books were picture books. I have a third picture book that's set in rural China.

I'll ask the question here: If I were to visit YOUR schools, what would you
like to have me teach kids? I am a writer and illustrator. I am also working on a graphic novel (literary comics for adults). I speak fluent Mandarin.

My last picture book, Hannah is My Name was about immigration from the perspective of a 7 year-old Chinese girl from Asia. This was the issue I addressed when I visited the handful of schools 3 or 4 years ago. It was fun and easy to engage the students because they all knew of someone who has immigrated or they, themselves are first generation in America.

If I can get more experience with kids, I think I will enjoy being a children's author to the fullest and, more importantly, be helpful to teachers and parents.

I'll explain the new book later, and perhaps you can give me some suggestions on approach.

Redigerat: jun 18, 2007, 10:47 pm

Q#1:Also--how long are classes? It's been so long, I've forgotten ;)

jun 18, 2007, 10:03 pm

>4 jmeacham: jmeacham: Yes, text and illustrations must be 2 + 2 = greater than 4.

I'm glad you touched on this point. I will remember this.

Redigerat: jun 18, 2007, 10:48 pm

>4 jmeacham: jmeacham:

Q#2: How do you get the kids writing? Do you do what author/illustraters do? That is, do you ask them for text first and then have them illustrate?

I see in your library a whole set of "how to draw" books. They look helpful.

Redigerat: jun 18, 2007, 10:53 pm

Now that I've explored this question of what to do at schools, I am getting excited. Talking to children is you must have SUBSTANCE. With adult talks, much of it relies of fluffy publicity and the cult of the personality.

I've had to really ask myself: who am I and what can I offer children and augment the teacher's work?

I'm thinking I can bring the tools I use. I can talk about where I get my ideas. I can show kids the ground up powder that is used in making tubes of paint and talk about the origin of colors--they don't just originate from a tube. They were mined as lapis lazuli to make ultramarine, etc.

Sorry, I'm thinking aloud here...;)

jun 21, 2007, 10:50 pm

Hi there!

Wonderful that you're bringing in the whole art aspect to the kids. Since funding is limited, that tends to get cut first...

> If I were to visit YOUR schools, what would you
like to have me teach kids?

I already love that you talk about China! I'll be teaching 2nd grade in the Fall, and I know in Massachusetts and Virginia, China is one of the main countries we study for the 2nd grade. Just having something integrated into an already established curriculum makes a greater impact. If you can find a tie into what the kids are already learning, that will make your presentation even more meaningful and memorable. Find that theme that makes the connection to their world (inside or outside the classroom)! :)

Hope this helps some!
Chelsea :)

jun 22, 2007, 2:44 pm

No, I don't start with the text first. I actually have them start with what they know best first (and can do) - - remember, my students are 5 years old (Kindergarten) and come to school with little letter knowledge. Some don't even know how to spell their names! Anyway, I start with oral story telling. We talk about the history of oral storytelling. I get them to realize that they are expert oral storytellers (and they are - -they love to talk and share stories). We practice. I then get them to draw (I don't bring the drawing books out until mid-year...when we talk about details in our drawing). First, we practice sharing our stories orally, drawing about them, and then drawing them and then sharing them. (see the reverse happening here). This leads to adding labels to our stories, and eventually text. By the end of the year my Kindergarteners can write and illustrate a 3-6 sentence story. Some can even do more. Of course all kindergartens are different, so this might not be happening everywhere.

jun 29, 2007, 6:17 pm

I would also like to teach writing comics...and thank you for the above suggestions. I will be interacting with kids at the Boston Main Library on Sunday, November 18th for Children's Book Week.

My "Washington Post Book World" comics for the ongoing series, "The Writing Life," came out early to be in time for the Fourth of July. Marie Arana, the editor, wrote a profile on my work. Cut and paste the link below to read the piece. Marie is the highly respected author of "American Chica":

When you get there, click "Against Forgetting," and you'll get the image below. I was asked to do this in color, but I wanted to use pure b&w to depict the Tiananmen Massacre.

jun 29, 2007, 6:20 pm

BTW, did you teachers know that there are agents who will help you bring authors like me to your schools? The agents can ask banks and local businesses to sponser visits.

I just received my copies of How to Teach Art to Children and Teaching Art with Books Kids Love from Amazon. These volumes look quite good.

feb 4, 2008, 7:37 pm

I think the greatest disservice done to teachers was by Bernard Shaw. "Those who can, do; those who cannot, teach." I am told he deeply regretted saying these words.

I am not a teacher but I have been going to schools, spending entire days with assemblies of children from nursery to high school. It is the most exhilarating, most exhausting work I've ever had to do. Writing or illustrating is a piece of cake by comparison. My learning was trial by fire last year in Boston where I visited schools and the Boston Public Library.

Talking before an adult audience is a piece of cake. You just spill your information. To teach means you must have knowledge and the ability to entertain. I've always had enormous respect for those who teach, and as an adult, I've made a concerted effort to find my grade school, middle school and high school teachers and thank them by taking them out to lunch. Recently, I located my 2nd grade teacher in Japan through various means and was able to thank him properly for turning me on to writing.

This month, I travel to Stockton for 4 days with a group of children's authors. We will "hit" nearly all schools in the district. Stockton is not a place where kids get to meet many working authors so I feel we are all doing an important thing.

Redigerat: feb 26, 2008, 2:21 pm

I love teaching, and it's fascinating for me to read over all this since even though I love kids, I think I'll be staying put in the college classroom. I just had to comment though--I used to hate that comment by Shaw, but since I've been teaching, I realize that there are many many many wonderful teachers who love what they do (I'm sure all of us since we're bothering to talk about it and be in this group!), but I also know quite a few, some pretty well, who really did get into teaching because they didn't know what else to do....and they're still here, doing the bare minimum or less, and complaining. As much as I hate to recognize it, teaching really is one of those things that a lot of people end up falling into just because they don't know what else to do with their degrees...and sadly enough, we need teachers badly enough that they retain jobs. Anyhow, there's my rant. I completely agree talking to kids is harder than parents--I do high school creative writing workshops occasionally, and man do I sweat them ahead of time.....

feb 28, 2008, 5:58 pm

>15 whitewavedarling: Whitewavedarling, I wrote the passages below after a week in Stockton. I call it "My Rite of Passage." I agree with you about finding some very bad teachers. When I hear teachers say, "Where is it at?" my teeth hurt. Bad grammarians teaching students. Ugh. We need to pay teachers salaries comparable to doctors to get the best teachers in the schools.

I need to sleep but images of the children I met this morning haunt me. I cannot stop the rills of tears. I've driven home from a Central Valley town after four days of giving a total of ten, forty-five minute presentations to children K through 12 (one gang-infiltrated high school and the other, a technical high school with the best and the brightest of Stockton). I have been speaking before adult audiences since 1986 and feel pretty cocky about my abilities to move, teach, inform, entertain. I no longer need a shot of gin before talking. But I am a coward before the small ones.

The schools here are old, built in the 40's. Trailers accommodate the expanding population. Apartments and mobile homes surround the schoolyard. Rain falls steadily on the asphalt of treeless playground, and the sound on the roof is like applause of tiny hands. The teachers I met this morning are harried, wearing Friday frowns of full time police.

After my talk to a second assembly of four hundred 4th to 7th graders, a boy I thought was Latino stops me and tells me his grandfather is half Chinese and half Cambodian and then his words abruptly turn to Medicaid. Medicaid? "Yeah, Medicaid won't pay for my glasses. My head hurts because I need glasses." This, coming from a child of eight or nine. I am stunned. I remember when we arrived in the United States, my father had eighty dollars after paying tuition at SF State and there was no money for my tennis shoes. Hardly money for a dentist when my toothache grew unbearable.

As I lie in bed, I regret I did not get his last name. After three assemblies, I felt as if I had run a marathon followed by an hour in the sauna. I was too limp to remember I should seek the principal. Come Monday, I will contact the school. The boy told me his name was Micky. Desperately seeking Micky. I won't put money in a presidential campaign, but I've got money enough for Micky's glasses.


This, too, I remember from the morning:

Yolanda and John are in the first grade. John helped me shine the too-big-for-his-hands flashlight on my picture book as I tried to negotiate an unwieldy microphone in the dark during a slide show. Sweat pours down my face as I try to control my seething frustration at the awkward setup of projector, mic, lights. I manage to keep the children engaged: there is minimal wiggling and giggling in the auditorium of three hundred midgets.

John's little hands shake and I have trouble seeing. His best friend, Yolanda of the soulful eyes that tilt down, reaches out with a pink hand to hold one end of my book cover. She intuits I am in a bit of a bind. It is such a tender gesture, my heart swells to twice its size. Then John sneezes into my book and microphone.

Later, I asked them to promise me that when they are grown and move away, they will find one another. Their eyes meet in great earnestness, then they turn to nod at me knowingly as if they can already see the future.

feb 28, 2008, 6:14 pm

Your experience is so movingly described! Thank you. I am a retired teacher and I know what you mean about how tough it is to deal with an audience of little ones. Their minds are like bright shinning fish darting around in a small pool. Drop a bit of food in and they all rush over.

I really hope you have luck in finding your little guy without the eye glasses. I remember my first pair of glasses in high school. I was totally blown away by being able to see things I did not even know I was not seeing.

Blessing on you.

feb 28, 2008, 7:00 pm

>Maggie1944. I did find "Micky." The principal is looking into the situation, talking to the little guy. I heard from the school just yesterday. They promised to email me when he actually gets the glasses. Yeah!

feb 28, 2008, 7:34 pm

that is so super. How very swell of you to care and check back. Love it!

feb 29, 2008, 11:41 am

>belleyang...It's nice to hear stories like that. I have to admit, I was pretty disillusioned after reading Frank McCourt's Teacher Man not long ago--he gave me the impression of just wandering along, not really knowing what he was doing and being incredibly impressed with what he thought he might be doing....even if he wasn't sure what it was. It made me think 'oh, this is why they think we don't do any work or know what we're doing'. Anyhow, you can read the rant/review I wrote, but the reason I bring it up, is that I just wanted to say I'd certainly much rather read your memoir than his!

okt 9, 2008, 12:03 am

That's funny, 'cause I count Teacher Man as an inspiration -- think of the potential, the possibilities! But now in all my classes i'm learning how scripted and controlled the entire year's curriculum is, as in don't even think about squeezing in your own favorites or teaching off the plan at all...????

feb 27, 2009, 1:29 am

Meddelandet raderat.