Friday, February 19, 2016

A School Visit and Wonderful Memories


I'm celebrating an author visit two days ago at Elder Creek Elementary School where I taught sixth grade for many years before I retiring to write full time. It was nostalgic to be on campus again as a visiting author, discussing my middle grade mystery, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, set in Victorian London. (See pictures below.)

First a reminder that this blog hop is co-sponsored by Lexa Cain @ Lexa Cain , L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog, who co-host this "Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. You can go to any of these sites to get all the links and add your name to the links. 

It wasn't my first author visit to Elder Creek. A few years ago I was invited to address a large assembly of intermediate grades after my first book, a fantasy called The Fourth Wish, was published. But that visit was rather formal. I gave a little speech, then students brought up their prepared questions, and I answered them--all of this over a microphone to a sea of attentive faces. 

Wednesday's visit was cozier: I went to six different classrooms (a couple of which had doubled up, with one class joining another, so I talked to 8 classes through the day.) Each visit was broken into three parts: 1. Sketching in aspects of the Victorian Era and the conditions in which the story unfolds. 2. Reading a chapter from the book. 3. Answering questions about the book and about writing.

I particularly enjoyed telling them about the Victorian Era, focusing on the differences in education then and now: differences between educating rich children and poor children; differences between education for boys and education for girls. I touched on mudlarks, and hackney cabs, and the fact that Sherlock Holmes relied on telegrams instead of the telephone. (My book involves Sherlock Holmes.) 

Quite a few of the students like to write, and they had interesting questions for me: Where do I get my story ideas? How do I figure out what a character is like? Have any authors inspired me? Do I ever get "stuck"? Do I identify with any of my characters? How long does it take me to write a book? How many revisions do I make? We talked about the value of writing groups, too, and I encouraged them strongly to get together with friends who like writing. Some of them wanted to know if I would read their work if they sent it to me through a teacher. (I said, "Sure!" It's easy to arrange, too; some of my teaching friends are still there.) 

All in all, it was a wonderful day. I sold some books after school, but the real thrill was seeing so many eager writers-in-the-making. Here are some pictures taken in one of the fifth-grade classrooms. 











Even though I'm no longer teaching full time (I teach an art class at a community center one day a week), I love working with young people. They give me great faith in the future.

What are you celebrating today? If you are an author, do you make school visits? If you like young people, what do you like most to share with them?



24 comments:

  1. It sounds like a fun and satisfying day, Mitty. I haven't made any school visits in the past year, but I plan to schedule a few this year...it is such a rewarding experience, and I too am impressed by the young students and often surprised by the thoughtfulness of their questions.I imagine they were fascinated by the Victorian era and your wonderful book!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nancy. This is my second school visit for Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, and the kids really are interested in that era. A lot of them are fascinated by Sherlock Holmes.

      Delete
  2. As a teacher, it is wonderful for children to be able to interact with visitors as it expands their knowledge and horizons at the same time. Lovely to see your photos of this event and I am so sure the students loved every minute you spent with them :) Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Cat Herder, (I love that name!) Yes, I agree it is always good for teachers to bring in outside speakers. It extends education and makes the wider world relevant to their education.

      Delete
  3. What a great school visit! I bet the kids really enjoyed all the unusual details about the Victorian era and listening to you read a chapter. Congrats on the good impression and the sales! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Lexa. It was so enjoyable for me, too. The students were great to interact with, and their questions about writing indicated that they really are interested in writing.

      Delete
  4. It sounds like a very enjoyable day. I'm sure the students loved it and got a lot out of it. Victorian era and things like that are so interesting, and it is something covered often in such settings. I can imagine they were curious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi;, T, thanks for stopping by. It's interesting to me that so much was going on, so many new inventions, etc., during the Victorian Era, both in the United States and in England. As someone who has always liked history, I was heartened that today's intermediate students find history interesting.

      Delete
  5. What a wonderful experience! I'm sure the kids got a lot out of your visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Kate. I think they did. But the beauty of a school visit is . . . I did, too! It was really heartening to see how much they were into writing!

      Delete
  6. Such a great experience and those kids asked some great questions. Have a great week! ~Lori~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Ravyne. Yes, I thought the questions were great! The students really seem to be taking writing seriously, the art and craft of it. It's encouraging to know that about young people today.

      Delete
  7. I'm pleased to hear about your school visits, I bet they were enjoyed by all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a lot of fun, Suzanne. Such earnest students, serious about writing. I have another visit to another classroom coming up in two weeks.

      Delete
  8. It must be wonderful to return to the school like this. Teacher now author!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi, Lee, yes, that was much of the thrill. That, plus the fact that I loved teaching, so it's always exciting to be in a situation where you can inspire young people.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Awesome! I love the pictures. I'd be much better in a cozy environment than a big assembly too.

    ReplyDelete
  11. My sentiments exactly, Donna! In the cozier environment, I thing their questions were more from the heart than the ones posed when I did the assembly. Both visits were nice, but this was immediately "closer" and the kids asked what they wanted to ask.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This was a wonderful visit. It's great working with young writers and seeing that spark in their eyes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed it is, Medeia. They give me such an energy boost!

      Delete
  13. How awesome you went back to the school where you used to teach. Looks like it was fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Natalie, it really was fun. I have another visit coming up in two weeks at the same school to a class that gave me feedback on a book that may be coming out later this year. Looking forward to that one, too!

      Delete
  14. Anuradha, thanks for stopping by. Yes, I love teaching art, especially with such motivated kids.

    ReplyDelete