Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cynthia Lord RULES Bailey

I could not get to computer fast enough to type my post about Cynthia Lord's visit the past two days at Bailey. I was so excited when Bill at Literate Lives announced to the author committee that she was going to be visiting our school.  Let me go back two years to start my story.

Two years ago our Newbery Club read Touched Blue and our whole group of 5th graders along with their parents fell in love with this story.  One of my students in my class that year touched my heart in so many ways similar to Aaron in the book, Touch Blue.  As my student and her parent read the book at home together, my student's parent also was extremely touched by the book and emailed Cynthia Lord. She expressed how so many of the parts of the story overlapped with their own forward two years and Cynthia Lord visited our school. 

She shared about the history of her reading life. I am proud to say I could raise my hand on 8/9 books.
Fifth graders were able to spend yesterday morning listening to Cynthia discuss her life as an author.  I LOVE how she started discussing how everyone can  be an author as long as they incorporate 4 things into their life.
     1.  Read - when you do read ask yourself: What did the author do to make me love this book? She rereads the last line of every chapter of a favorite book to answer this question.
     2.  Write - The only way to be a better writer is to practice. She gave a great analogy to the students about riding a bike or practicing for a sports team
    3.  Learn - knowledge in school, learn about the tools that writer's use. I liked when she said you don't have to perfect with the tools because there is an editor to help.
    4.  Dream - wonder, imagine, and write down your "seeds" of a good story

What a great message for elementary students to hear from a Newbery author.  She then continued to share how she researches her books.  She shared how she rode the ferry to her job as a teacher on a small island and wrote about all the different sensory descriptions in her writer's notebook. Those snippets helped her as she wrote Touch Blue.  My favorite line was, "I look for surprises that couldn't be imagined and then I know that is the gold in the story."  

She shared how important revision is even after 8 drafts.
She also shared with the students about how she has to "just get through" her first draft and typically the middle part is difficult for her.  Finally she shared a marvelous writing technique that she uses called WOW.  It was the buzz of 5th grade as we walked up the stairs back to our classrooms.

W =  Want - What does the character want in the story?
O = Obstacles - What obstacles are in the character's way in the story?
W = Win - Did the character win?  Sometimes yes and sometimes no. 

Finally a full circle moment for me, last night we had dinner at my student's home as her mom prepared a delicious dinner for Cynthia and the author committee.  It was one of the HIGHLIGHTS of my teaching career as I sat on the coach talking to my student who is now in 7th grade discussing her life and how much she has grown academically, socially and her maturity shined through like the sun. Then I walked into the kitchen and had time to talk Cynthia one on one about life.  Finally as night ended, I hugged both parents and thanked them for "one of those nights." That night will go down in my memory box forever!!

Finally check out Cynthia Lord's blog post about today's special events in our classroom.
Time to meet Xander-



  1. What an amazing two days! Completely jealous!!! :)

  2. What an amazing time...I can hear your sense of accomplishment and fulfillment in this post.