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April 1, 2018
Vol. 75
No. 7

Tell Me About … / An Author You'd Most Love to Visit Your School, and Why He or She Would Inspire Your Students

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Instructional Strategies

Demystifying the Creative Process

My students would love to have any fiction children's author come to visit. We spend a great deal of time doing creative writing, and for some students this is very challenging. Being able to ask questions of someone who is successful would help them to be inspired to put their ideas on paper, even if they are only rough. For children to hear that adults had and have the same challenges is helpful for them as they go about doing their own work.
Caitlyn Carter-Nanian, lower elementary Montessori teacher, Montessori School of McLean, McLean, Virginia

Let's Hear It for the Boys

Many popular young adult novels are written with girls in mind; books for boys are usually dominated by sports or dystopia. Jordan Sonnenblick's books Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and Falling Over Sideways have kept many middle school boys interested in reading. His protagonists are relatable and funny, and the length of his books are just right. Sonnenblick was a middle school English teacher, so he knows all about the written language and the struggles middle school students often face.
Andrea Coffey, teacher librarian, Stratford School District, Stratford, New Jersey

Read Aloud for Inspiration

Dr. Steven Layne, Judson University professor and author, has visited my school district twice in the past decade. Best known for his professional books, Igniting a Passion for Reading and In Defense of Read Alouds, he also has picture books and young adult books: Love the Baby, Paradise Lost, and Merger. He will inspire students to not only read, but also to share and create their own stories. His read-alouds with students and educators are fantastically filled with character, vigor, and an insurmountable energy level. I can't wait to have him back again!
Jon Konen, principal, Lincoln Elementary, Great Falls Public Schools, Great Falls, Montana

A Treat for Middle School Students

My students and I would love to invite Veronica Roth. Most of the middle school students at Hinckley-Big Rock read her science fiction series Divergent, so having Roth visit us would be a wondrous experience. Her books portray numerous themes that middle school students love to read about: cherishing uniqueness, heroism, bravery, daring to be different, identity, and selflessness. Her heroine has truly become an icon for my students.
Grace Lee, ELA teacher, Hinckley-Big Rock Middle School, Big Rock, Illinois

Great Graphic Novels

Noelle Stevenson's graphic novel Nimona is, hands down, the book I can give to my students' and know they will be curious about, and ultimately delighted by. They also seem a little surprised a teacher is giving them something so fun—but it makes them want to know more about graphic novels and to come back to me for more recommendations. I loved zines and graphic novels growing up, and they always spoke to me about being young and a little offbeat in a way that was unique and felt like discovering a secret. I love that they create some really wonderful, insightful discussions among my students, but still retain that sense of quirky offbeat delight I always felt reading them on my own.
Elisabeth Hamilton, 8th grade humanities teacher, East Side Middle School, New York, New York

Teaching about Columbine

I would love to invite David Cullen, author of Columbine. We've read Columbine for many years now in our junior and senior courses. It's such a powerful story. It's about much more than just school violence. It's about community and media misrepresentation of the facts. Students would find hearing from Cullen in person fascinating and inspiring.
John Copenhaver, 7–12 English department chair, Flint Hill School, Fairfax, Virginia

Global Perspectives

Our school hosted internationally recognized Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail several years ago. Although Dunya writes poetry for an adult audience, we used a few of her more accessible poems to prepare our students before her visit. Dunya discussed her journey from Iraq to the U.S. and how she wrote her poetry. Because so many of our families are from Iraq, her visit really resonated with the students.
Barbara Gottschalk, English language acquisition teacher, Susick Elementary, Warren Consolidated Schools, Troy, Michigan

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