This week, books came to life for Canterbury School students! On Oct. 1 and 2, award-winning children's author Lola Schaefer facilitated presentations and writer's workshops for students in the Early Childhood, Lower School and Middle School divisions.
"Having an author share her experiences and expertise helps students develop their voices and cultivate creativity, critical thinking, empathy and imagination," said Deb Williams, Middle School Librarian. "It's never too early for that."
Schaefer's engaging conversations tied in perfectly to students' classroom lessons leading up to her visit.
For the last several weeks, Junior Kindergarten students in the Early Childhood division explored what's "under the sea". They sang songs about sea life in music class, they read Schaefer's "What's Up, What's Down" during library time, and they visited the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, where they discovered more about the sea. Yet, Schaefer's exciting presentation brought the sea to life for these young students. Asking students to imagine what they would see as they traveled to the bottom of the ocean or while they flew to the top of moon, Schaefer encouraged young minds to explore and enjoy the wonder of nature.
Grade 1 students in the Lower School division jump-started their examination of fairy tales with Schaefer's presentation "Understanding Story Elements in Fairy Tales". Students reviewed traditional fairy tale stories, and they considered how the main characters were abandoned or isolated, identified the main characters' redemptive qualities, and thought about balancing magical elements and reality. Under Schaefer's guidance, Grade 1 students worked in groups to write their own fairy tale stories. This is only the beginning though, as students will continue to explore fairy tales throughout the month of October.
Middle School students in Grades 5 and 6 talked with Schaefer about developing tools for writing narrative pieces. During their discussion about characters, plots, conflicts and resolutions, Schaefer explained that "great personal narratives come from emotions". She suggested that the most memorable narratives reveal times when writers felt deep emotion, not when they simply shared something they did. We're excited to see how students use this advice when sharing their own narratives throughout the year.
"Lola's visit helped foster students' appreciation of the written word, both as readers and as writers," said Williams. "Likewise, these opportunities can equip students with additional tools to use in their own writing and can help students build confidence in their writing abilities."
Schaefer has written more than 280 books for children, including picture books, easy readers and novelty books. Her books have earned national recognition among book critics, and they are highly regarded among her youngest of readers. "This is the Sunflower" (Greenwillow books, 2000) was one of her first critically recognized picture books, and "Pick, Pull, Snap! Where Once a Flower Bloomed" (Greenwillow Books, 2003) earned the ALA Notable Children's Book recognition.A graduate of Indiana University's School of Education, Schaefer has worked as a classroom teacher in Kindergarten through Grade 7 for 18 years, as well as a graduate-level college professor who taught classes on writing in the elementary classroom. She's now a national writing consultant, traveling across the country and sharing her love of reading and writing in schools, at conferences and at workshops. Schaefer lives wither her husband of 40 years in North Georgia, where they enjoy gardening, hiking and watching wildlife.