NaNoWriMo and a Visit with Tessa Dahl
by Ellen Rutgers, Upper Elementary Teacher
This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Boston Writing Project. This is a group of about twenty language teachers from around Boston, who focus on the best practices in teaching writing. In addition, all these wonderful teachers and I worked on our own writing, offering and receiving feedback in a Reader’s Response Group.
The writers in my Reader’s Response Group enjoyed each other’s work, and this helped me believe, for the first time, in my own talent. I have now begun to write a novel, a project I have been longing to do for seven years. So, the Writing Project has been immensely rewarding personally and professionally. One of my professors shared research showing that children who are allowed to express themselves creatively become better writers, as compared with children whose instruction focuses on how to write a good paragraph or a five paragraph essay.
I could not wait to bring my new knowledge and enthusiasm back to LMS. And upper elementary has proven to be fertile ground! In our Writer’s Workshops, the children have been quick to pick up everything I learned during the summer. Then, in October, I heard about the National Novel Writing Month for Young Writers (NaNoWriMo). I asked if anyone was interested in participating, and the response was a resounding “YES!” We ended up with twenty novelists at our NaNoWriMo kick-off meeting. Each author received a workbook with guidelines, including fun tips and forms to help plan their story. Then, they set their word goals - anywhere between 500 and 5000 words. The program makes some clever suggestions, including sending the author’s “inner editor” on vacation. Some children drew pictures of their inner editors, and then literally hid them away for a month. Each Friday we held a NaNoWriMo lunch, where children cheered each other on and encouraged their friends to meet their goals. The classroom was abuzz with words, sentences and ideas. I witnessed the hatching of authors!
The NaNoWriMo program helped these students meet their goals. As they approached the final deadline, they worked really hard so they could celebrate their effort. Having earned NaNoWriMo certificates, these proud authors gathered in the school library for an authors’ share. There, they were treated to a surprise visit with Roald Dahl’s eldest child, Tessa, who has published four best-selling children’s books, as well as an award winning novel. She also has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, mainly published in Great Britain.
Ms. Dahl showed a delightful video in which her father and she were interviewed. In fact, it was the last interview before Mr. Dahl died. Following the video, the children asked Tessa questions, and we all enjoyed hearing what it was like to grow up with Roald Dahl. Tessa told us that her father told his stories to his children at bedtime before he wrote them as books. She described herself as the “Launching Pad” for James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Magic Finger.
The children each shared a brief summary of their own novels, and they read her a favorite part. Tessa listened intently to every word, remarking on the clearly fictional Why Am I Always The Unpopular Girl At School, and The Adventures of the Pizza, The Cheesecake and the Sushi, and The Little Girl who Longed for a Pony. One reading included the shocking outcry:
“I-I j-just s-saw Gramma in a …” Kayla stuttered, grasping for something to hold onto.
“In a what?” I asked.
Ours was a true gathering of authors. Tessa was very impressed. Afterwards, she remarked about the high quality of the students’ writing, but she was most impressed by how supportive the children were of each other. National Writer’s Month has ended, but the children’s enthusiasm for writing has new life!
Here is what the kids had to say about participating in NaNoWriMo:
“It took my creativity to a whole new level.”
“It was fun, it made me have to reach my goal.”
“NaNoWriMo really opened my heart, showing me my own unique writing world all over again.”
“Even if you think you know all the techniques of writing, there is still something to learn every day.”
Check it Out
Parents Association Coffee
When: Thursday January 17th @ 8:30am
Where: Elementary Building lobby
Why: So many reasons! Celebrate the New Year, catch up with other parents, relax for a few minutes, check out ways to get involved at LMS this spring...
Registration is open for the 2013 LMS 5K Run/Walk & Kids' Fun Run
A fun event for all ages - Saturday, May 11, 2013.
Spotlight on ...Facts about Flu
by Kathleen Kerr, LMS Nurse
There is so much information about the increase in the number and severity of influenza (flu) this year. What do you really need to know?
What are the symptoms?
Fever (100 or higher), cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Not everyone will have a fever.
How call I tell the flu from a cold?
With a cold (upper respiratory infection) a person doesn’t usually have a fever; they have a stuffy or runny nose and feel a little sick. With flu, a person’s entire body can feel very sick with fever, chills and headache.
How long should my child stay home from school?
Send your child back to school after he or she has been completely well for 24 hours (no fever without having to take Tylenol or motrin for 24 hours). The MA Department of Public Health has advised children to stay for home for 7 days after symptoms start or until your child is completely well for a full day, whichever is longer. Children can spread the virus for about 7 days; adults spread it for about 5 days.
How to protect against the flu?
You can still get vaccinated at your primary care office, clinic or local pharmacy. For the Lexington Board of Health call 781-862-0500 ext237 for info about vaccines. Hand washing is a great defense against all kinds of germs. If someone in your family is sick, have them cover coughs and sneezes with their elbow or a tissue (and keep throwing them away!). Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and disinfect surfaces near the ill person. Getting enough sleep and eating healthy food is always a good way to boost your immune system.
Remember to talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns. For more info
And remember, spring will come soon!