Sunday, April 28, 2013

Skype Visit with Gae Polisner

I often joke that I don’t really admire celebrities – heck, I don’t even know the majority of people that are inside an US Weekly anymore – but I do admire authors. They are my superheroes. Friday was a great example of why I feel that way. As I wrote about last week (HERE), I am beginning a fiction unit in writing workshop. The students took a field trip to my preschool and we learned a bit about setting. The next writing day was going to be Friday and I was debating how to use it best. I knew that it would be our main jumping off lesson for the unit. Enter Gae Polisner.

I “knew” Gae through Twitter. Her fabulous book, The Pull of Gravity, won an award in our first ever Nerdy Book Club awards. She had offered before to Skype with my fifth graders and I decided to take her up on the offer.

When I sent Gae a tweet to see if she was still interested, she immediately said yes. We settled on a date and what we’d Skype about – she’d talk about her writing process, they could ask questions, and if time allowed – she would lead them in a creative writing activity.

Skype with Gae
The Skype started off great. Gae asked them how many students loved to read – and to be honest; she’d make me leave the room if necessary. Every hand shot up. Then she asked how many loved to write, only half of the hands went up. When Gae talked to them she discovered many didn’t enjoy writing because they weren’t good at it, in their opinion. I will be forever grateful to Gae for the conversation that came next. She talked about how many times she has been told her writing isn’t good enough. And how when you are told no, it just means it isn’t right for that other person at that time. That you should use the “no” to inspire you to improve. It isn’t an indication that you are a failure, but that you can grow. She discussed this with writing, art, sports, etc. What a fabulous message for my students!

Creative writing activity
Gae went on to discuss her own writing process, drafts, and more. We did have technology issues – but we worked around them. At the end she had me lead the creative writing activity due to tech issues – and I’ve emailed her the results of that writing. I believe she will be sharing that on her blog soon.

If you have the chance to bring an author to your classroom, I highly recommend it. My students were thrilled to talk to Gae, to hear her story, and left inspired to write. They learned so much more in that thirty minutes than I had ever anticipated. And if you haven’t read her fabulous book, remedy that immediately. It is a perfect middle school book.

Thanks, Gae!