Mack-Boulder students spent Thursday, February 4th completely captivated by acclaimed author Deborah Wiles.
Wiles first worked with the kindergarteners and first graders, using her picture book One Wide Sky and her Aurora County Trilogy novels to talk about creating story out of events from her own life. They sang and danced together and practiced the author’s “writer” yoga pose.
The second session was with students in second through fifth grades. Wiles asked that the students bring their writing notebooks because it was no ordinary assembly; the students spent the hour with Wiles actually writing. As Wiles walked them through her process of using events from her own life to create meaningful stories, as seen in her picture book Freedom Summer and documentary novels Countdown and Revolution, the students were inspired and filled their notebooks with ideas of their own.
In the afternoon, Wiles spent over an hour writing with the middle school students. Again, the students were inspired by Wiles and filled page after page with moments from their own lives about which they want to write. A seventh grade girl settled on one moment and wrote at least four pages on it alone. Wiles also shared other processes such as oral drafting and revising. The students worked in pairs to practice the processes, with much success.
The teachers were thrilled with how the process Wiles used simultaneously supported what they are teaching in the classroom and also “took it to the next level” for the students. “She was so engaging and fun! The students (and teachers) were hanging on her every word,” said third grade teacher Melody Parker.
As one sixth grade boy put it, “She didn’t even try to push her books… it was all about sharing her process and helping us grow as writers. But I still really want to read her books!”
Lucky for him, we have a whole set of her books in our new school library.