Thursday, 30 May 2013

Lots of questions at North Prepatory

It's amazing how certain students will be fascinated with a story.
The students at North Prepatory School on Spadina had loads of questions about the Dionne Quints.
One of my favourites was which quint was the oldest.
Oriana knew that no one person was more Canadian than another. She was the second person I asked. I have never had anyone answer the Great Canadian Trick Question on the first try.
I interviewed Mr. Mendoza who had a great story about teaching Grade 1 students. He also talked about his relationship with his Dad and how, in his home, food smoothed over any conflict.
I had a great time and even got a freezee for the road. Can't beat that.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 27 May 2013

O Canada at Church Street School

Efe and Grecia, two great assistants
In all the school visits I have conducted, never once have I been interrupted for O Canada.
It happened at Church Street School, just as I was talking about The Great Canadian Trick Question.
No student has ever gotten the question right the first time and, while they were attentive and super bright, the kids at Church Street did not break the streak.
I had a wonderful visit at the invitation of teacher/librarian Nancy Woodruff and teacher Liem Bui.
I met the students in Grade 4, 5 and 6 and we talked a lot about how to be a good writer. I explained why I chose certain letters for M is for Maple and why my wife is still mad at me over not choosing Emily Carr for the letter C.
To demonstrate how to be a good listener I interviewed Mr. Bui who told  me  how his love of the Raptors began when his parents took him to the YMCA.
I loved Church Street School. For one thing, I got the chance to poke around Maple Leaf Gardens where I worked for many years. Second, how many authors get to stand and sing O Canada with so many bright, beautiful children.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Fantastic sessions at Beaumonde and Valleyfield Junior School.

Today I made two school visits to schools on Toronto's West end.
First, I visited beautiful Beaumonde Heights.
We spoke a lot about the interviewing process. As I mentioned to the students it's great to get material online but sometimes the best way to get information is face-to-face.
The ability to interview is a great skill because if you are attentive to the person you are speaking with and if you ask questions based on the answers you are given you can learn an enormous amount.
For example: the librarian at Beaumonde Heights is Rosella Doto. I interviewed her for the students and we learned her amazing family story: how her father who grew up in Italy did not have shoes until he was 15 because he was so poor. Rosella's parents came to Canada with $15 and built a life here.
Her honesty and her great story made for a memorable morning.
In the afternoon it was time to go to Valleyfield where I met the librarian, Sonia Henri and about 70 students. I used an overhead unit to demonstrate writing and illustrating. We talked about having a plan and a starting point and used some sketches to demonstrate how to start with a rough idea and then add detail and shape to the picture until it is complete.
I learned from librarian Sonia Henri that in her hometown near Thedford Mines, Quebec, they had only one light. The great Wonuola operated the overhead machine for me. She and Jaden, another great kid, are in Mr. Graydon's class.
There is a lot of French spoken at Valleyfield and since I went to a French school from Kindergarten to Grade 8 I felt very comfortable. I had a wonderful time.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Learned a lot at Sir Ernest MacMillan school.

Learned a lot today at Sir Ernest MacMillan School in North Toronto.
For one thing, I learned I could talk for 90-minutes straight which must have been very taxing for the students.
Our session dealt with writing: how to plan,  how to add detail and how to edit.
We also talked about interviewing and that's where I learned the most.
In a conversation with teacher Ann Truong I learned that she met her husband at an automobile mechanics course. I learned the root of her determination to be self-sufficient spanned a generation and was rooted in the hardship her parents encountered and overcame.
The students, of course, did not know Ms. Truong's story. I was grateful for her wonderful honesty.
Everyone has a story. The secret to having that person share their story is to be a good listener and be genuinely interested in what the person has to say.
Listen right down to your bones, ask the questions you are afraid to ask and the results will be incredible.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Great Time at Parkdale School

I learned a lot of things from my visit to Parkdale School in Hamilton
I learned that some children right great poems about their moms.
I learned that Parkdale students are attentive and polite.
And I learned there were a lot of little girls named Abigail.
The great students at Parkdale were a pleasure to visit.
Parkdale Rocks.