Intimate Understanding Bring Stories To Life

We want to give you a window into our students’ creative process.  After our shared reading of our blog, the kids knew the task set before them: how they might design their TED Talk.  As they went into their groups, magic began to happen.  The structure of the groupings are four students per group.  Each group is studying an author of their choosing: Eve Bunting, Chris Van Allsburg, Seymour Simon, Patricia Polacco, and Dan Gutman.  Here is a glimpse of their plans…


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Eve Bunting- This group is intrigued by the hardships that she has endured in her life especially as she immigrated from Ireland to the United States. They have found several excerpts they would like to share from her books that connect to events in her life.  Other books connected to other struggles in her real life will also be shared as they show you what she had to endure and how she used this as a basis for her books.  Truly inspirational!

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Chris Van Allsburg- This group thinks that he is so strange because he marches to the beat of his own drum. They love it.  They want to highlight this strangeness through visual representations paired with excerpts from his life and books.  They especially love the dog that he includes in his books and they want to discuss the process he went through to draw it.  This role as author and illustrator is another reason they think he should be celebrated.

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Seymour Simon- We are really excited about Seymour’s group because we have met him.  He makes himself so accessible to teachers and  students (http://www.seymoursimon.com/index.php/blog/tags/tag/StarWalk+Kids)  and we think we have a sense of who he is as a person.  It is cool to see how the children gauge his identity.

This group wants to highlight the different things he teaches us about in his text.  They want to use the ENO board to display a variety of scenes that they can tie to events in his life.  As they do this, they want to read excerpts from his book to explain the scenes.  They are playing with the idea of having one group member become Seymour Simon and creating an interview to further share information.

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Patricia Polacco- This group wants to really focus on the connection between her family and her books.  They want to start with a picture of her family because she writes about them in her books  (they are characters) and they are very important to who she is as a person.  Next, they are each going to pick one family member and  highlight them in the books that she writes.  They will step into the shoes of this family member showing pictures and reading excerpts from her text.

Dan Gutman-  This group thinks Dan Gutman is hilarious because he understands their humor and infuses it into his books.  They want to take this to the next level and create a book about why children should read his books.  This book will then become the focus of their TED Talk.

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We want students to care about the storytellers.  We want them to understand that this is an art form. Creative expression is an outlet for your lived experiences.  What is it about this kind of work that makes so many teachers uncomfortable?  We think the reasons are:

  • It is hard work to analyze the task-they are afraid to step out of the lesson plan and let kids be the lead learners
  • It is very hard work to gather all these materials; materials to engage and that matter – but it’s worth it
  • It is hard work to find a balance between support and independence so needed to do this work
  • It is hard to let students struggle, troubleshoot and find their own solutions- this is where real transfer occurs

Nobody ever said teaching is easy.  This is why we need an advanced degree to do this.  We have to make smart, informed decisions.  We have to lead.

One thought on “Intimate Understanding Bring Stories To Life

  1. This is wonderful. I was attracted to this post because in our district our grades 3-5 all do an author study each year. The three authors we study are Gr. 3 -Patricia Polacco, Gr. 4 – Chris Van Allsburg, and Gr.5 -Eve Bunting! I’d love to see their work when they are done. Thank you for sharing!

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