Last week I spent two hours having the time of my life with 34 children from nine to ten years of age. Yes, you heard correctly... :)
I have a dear friend, also named Maria, who invited me to meet with her class and another to talk about how writing inspires me. She had already read excerpts of Kylie's Blossoms to her students, telling them that I was an author, a nurse and a professor.
I was thrilled to accept this opportunity, yet never expected the positive response I received from the students... really heartwarming and inspiring in and of itself. Here is a shot of me surrounded by some of the most amazing kids on the planet - seriously!
These youngsters wanted to hear what I had to say. They were curious yet respectful. Their open minds and hearts made them an ideal audience - I looked at the most adorable sponges before me, absorbing my every word. As such, I took this presentation seriously...
I asked initially if anyone in the class had ever thought about writing a book. Imagine my delight and surprise when they informed me that everyone present had written their first book in Grade One. One young lady shared two books she has written since - lovely, self - illustrated collections of poetry.
I polled the group and about 50% of those present enjoyed writing. Thinking of the adults I teach and their trepidation with the writing process, I thought this was a fabulous starting off point.
I shared the following key points with them to foster their enthusiasm for writing ...involving their active minds as much as possible:
I was impressed with the students' attention span. However, after about an hour, I felt the need to give everyone a short break. Maria was masterful in her selection of an interactive YouTube that got everyone up and dancing...even yours truly! Have a listen and you may find yourself doing the Continental Drift yourself...it's rather addictive, in the best of ways!
After this energetic stretch, everyone was ready for my challenge - aka a contest. I gave each student this copy of Mike Friedman's beautiful photograph of sunflowers.
I gave everyone about 15-minutes to write either a two paragraph story or a two stanza poem about how this picture made them feel. In case you were wondering, the students were well-versed in the definition of paragraph and stanza.
I brought along four autographed copies of Kylie's Blossoms that were awarded to the first four students whose names were pulled out of a box and who were willing to read their work to the class.
Opening the floor to Q & A, I could see that my audience had been listening - some had even prepared questions beforehand. Here are some of the questions I was asked... I'm sure there were more that I'm forgetting...
There were a few moments before class was dismissed and some of the students asked if they could also read their stories. We all agreed that each story read was from a different point of view as one youngster summarized for us.
I am in the process of writing feedback on each of these brilliant pieces - looking forward to returning them and saying HI to my writing colleagues before they break for the summer.
I was touched and honored when some of the students asked for my autograph at the end of the class - as I was the first author they had met.
The pleasure was all mine... a time of joy, inspiration and fun that I'll carry in my heart forever. I'm in discussions with Maria to see how I might mentor some of the group who already have a demonstrated passion for writing...more to come, as we refine the specifics.
Until next week, spend some time in the company of the younger set - it's worth the investment.
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