Monday, March 28, 2011

Class Time

I admit, I was a little nervous. Anytime I'm in front of a group of people--whether in a small social setting, a whole church congregation (to sing), or an elementary class--I get that way. Because here's the thing, they have to look at you. And listen, too. Gah!
head of the class (for a brief time)
But I had prepared for my session with the kids last Thursday. I'd taken notes to bulletpoint the things I wanted to say, readied fun little notebooks and pencils to distribute (gifts are always exciting), and I took my time, kept it casual. (I wore my school t-shirt, too, which I thought a nice touch.)
It was great fun!
I told the second grade class (including my older daughter):
There are all kinds of ways to write, and anyone can do it! You can journal, write letters or poems (which is also called poetry) or lists, and you can make up stories or tell true stuff, too.
I took props, showed them a fiction chapter book (who loves Junie B. Jones?), a non-fiction book of facts (about Justin Bieber, because he is all the rage among the youngsters), and a volume of Shel Silverstein's poetry (classic! an absolute favorite of mine when I was their age).
I taught them how to write haiku poetry. The 5-7-5 syllable rule was something they really got into.
Missus [surname] is
the coolest teacher ever.
We really love her.
We talked about how ideas can come from anywhere: People-watching, pictures, music, brainstorming, etc. They liked it when we closely studied their teacher's necklace, and came up with stories for the pearl. For instance, that the teacher is a spy, and when she has to report her findings she speaks into the bead. How great is that?!
I gave them a list of things to remember:
Poetry can rhyme but does not have to.
Fiction means not true, like make-believe.
Non-fiction means true and real.
A story or piece of writing has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
A story also has a plot, which means something happens in the story, and it can be funny or scary or sad or full of action, or whatever you want it to be. If you are the writer, you get to decide!
You get to be creative and use your imagination!
We talked a little about the mechanics of writing:

Whenever you write and whatever you write, check your spelling and sentences. Are your capital and lower-case letters correct? What should your punctuation look like? Make sure you write clearly, too, so people can read your words.
I talked about how neat it is to spend some time with writing and then pass it on, so that another person can read and understand and feel your thoughts and ideas.
We spent about thirty-five minutes together. It went quickly. Before I left I gave them ideas for writing to try at home (using those new notebooks). They could write their own haiku, start a private journal, people-watch and take notes, write a letter to someone out of town (and get Mom or Dad's help sending it), or write a fictional story about their favorite animal.
My first "speaking engagement" couldn't have gone better. I was so pleased with their attention and enthusiasm. As it turned out, the things I talked about were supportive of things they've learned in class (though haiku was new, and that was cool), and I was so excited to have encouraged them, even just a little.
I think, too, that I may soon have chance to speak to a group of women, teachers, who are interested in writing and reading, and that makes me giddy! I'm a nerd for this stuff, and to be able to share it with others is awesomely awesome.
Thanks to all of you for your ideas and support. And thanks to my mom, who went along for moral support, and acted as photographer, too. :)


June Kramin said...

How awesome, Janna! Sun a great experience & a fun little audience!!

Liza said...

So glad this went well for you. I'll tell you a secret. I'm so far out of grammar school that I can barely remember it, but the one thing I DO remember is learning haiku in second grade. Some day, years from now, one of those students will be writing and they will remember you. Wonderful!

Barb said...

Awesomely awesome! ;-) You packed a TON of great teaching into a teensy window of time. I'm so impressed. The haiku poem was cute.

Hooray for your tender heart--to want to share a love of writing with a whole new generation.


Ana Goncalves said...

That is wonderful Janna. I am so happy for you and that you had the opportunity to share this with a group of children. I trust they appreciated your time and your wisdom.

I wish you well in all your future opportunities and it's so wonderful to be sharing your passion with people.

Keep shining oh beautiful friend.

(I keep reminding myself to write to you, will do soon i.e. penpal)

Have a beautiful Spring

Melissa Sarno said...

I get so nervous speaking in front of people too. Even when people tell me they are speaking front of people (like you did) I get nervous for them! haha. I admire that you did such an incredible job. It must be so fun to instill a love of writing in others.

Angela Hood-Ross said...

WONDERFUL! I know you had a great time.

Melissa Amateis said...

Awww, it sounds so awesome! Glad it went well for you, Janna. I knew you'd do terrific!

Barb said...

I was interested in knowing how it went - it sounds like a huge success both for you and the class. My twin grandchildren are in second. That is when the love of reading and writing really blooms.

Diane said...

Sounds like you got a lot of good stuff in there and the kids actually got it. So proud of you and, yes, you will be leading women soon with classes! :O)

Indigo said...

You made a wonderful teacher for a day. My other half is a class room assistant (read he usually ends up teaching) and he recently told me how thrilling it had been to inspire students to write.

One little girl claimed it was boring. So he challenged her, if she would write one story for him, he would return the favor. As of today she's written five stories. He's busy trying to keep up. Paul said seeing her so alive and enjoying the aspect of creating words, was like no other. (Hugs)Indigo

P.S. I plan on showing him this post and how you approached writing. He works with 6th graders.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Thanks for the great response, everyone!

Katie Ganshert said...

That is AWESOME! I'm glad it went so well, Jana. And how cool that you get to talk to teachers! I'd love to know more about this!

Tana said...

How cool that you got to do this! And quite brave of you might I add.=)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Great job, Janna!! I'm impressed with what you presented in such a short time!

Jeanette Levellie said...

Wow. You are wonderful! I wish someone perky like you had come to my 2nd grade class. But you weren't born yet. Aha.

Karen said...

Janna, that was an excellent lesson! I like that one, too. I know other speaking engagements will come your way. And that will only enhance your writing. Yay!

Janna Leadbetter said...

You guys are all so great. If I'm ever lacking support and encouragement, I need only seek you. :)

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Janna, I taught third graders and they would have loved your lesson,too. It was filled with variety and I know you kept their interest the whole time. They learned a lot and went home talking about you. What a fun day!

Karen Lange said...

Sounds great, Janna! So glad it went well! I knew it would. :)

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Wow! You covered a lot in 35 minutes! Love the idea about the teacher-spy with the pearl. Just so many cute ideas. You never know what will stick with them, Janna. This was great.

Joanne said...

What great lessons you gave them in sharing the wonderful art of words and story. And who knows? You just may have inspired a future NY Times Bestselling author :)

Carla Gade said...

What a wonderful day! No doubt those children will remember it for a long time to come.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

That sounds really exciting for the kids! I'm glad you are out there passing on the love of the written word. :-)

Patti said...

I wish I'd read this before I went to volunteer in my daughter's class, where the teacher put me on the spot about writing.

Sounds like you did a great job.

Deb Shucka said...

While I'm not at all surprised, I'm so happy that you had such a successful experience. You covered a lot in a long half hour! I would have loved to have you in my classroom talking to my kids. And I know you'll be just as wonderful with adults.

Kelly H-Y said...

YAY! Sounds like it went just perfect!! (Love the pearl as a communication device ... kids are SO creative!).Congrats!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Janna -

You did such a great job with the kids! You must have inspired the teacher as well if they want you to teach them. :)


Jessica Nelson said...

Wow Jannna!!! This is so cool. Kudos to you for being brave. I'm sure most of those kids will never forget you. Awesomeness. :-)

Inklings and Notions said...

I wish there were people like you to come to my class when I was in 2nd grade!:D

septembermom said...

That is terrific Janna!! You gave those kids some really great advice about creativity and writing. You taught them so much in that lesson. I bet many wonderful writers will start sharing their words after your session with them. Bravo to you Janna! I'm sure all those kids would give you a standing ovation too!

Duane Scott said...

I love this... ;)

Lisa M. said...

Way to go Janna! I'm so proud of you!! I remember learning poetry in grade school, and loving it! I'll bet you inspired many of those kiddos with your presentation. P.S. I love the extra touch of the gift of notebooks and pencils!