World Read Aloud Day is around the corner and I’m excited to connect with students, teachers, and librarians next Wednesday. I’d like to send a quick thank you to Kate Messner for setting up the spreadsheet to help organize the day. She made it an easy place for teachers and authors to connect virtually. And I’d also like to say thank you to the many teachers and librarians who reached out to me with invitations to visit your classrooms. (I am fully booked and wish I could accommodate all requests, maybe next year!) I look forward to an exciting day with you.
How to Prepare for a Guest Speaker
As a former teacher, I know how challenging it is to plan for these special events. But in taking a few minutes to prepare my classes ahead of the event I found it was worth the effort. When the kids learned something new from a guest speaker, or a field trip docent – even if it was just one thing – then the event was worth it.
Educators can encourage positive results from the event. Preparing your students for what they will see and hear will help them be more engaged. It’s true, not every kid or every teacher will like the topic, or make connections with the field trip or event, but by taking the time to learn a little background may help everyone come away with one idea or feeling that is valuable.
For the Organizer… to the Guest Speaker
- Provide an expectation or guidelines of the topic to be shared. How can we support your curriculum?
- Who will be in the audience? Ages, groups, numbers
- Confirm the date and time (be mindful of time zones)
- Stay in touch with the speaker with a reminder note (1-2 months before, then 7-10 days prior to event date)
- Be mindful of the fact that some speakers are not as familiar with technology as you are. Will there be a practice session?
For the Educator of the Students Attending Event
- Discuss as many of the following questions as possible: Who is the guest speaker? How is s/he connected to the topic? What are their talents? Is there anything the kids need to be aware of in terms of language, disabilities, etc.?
- Discuss the topic and provide a little background. If it’s an author visit about a certain book, it’s helpful to read as much of the book as you can prior to the event. Show images to help build background knowledge.
- Enlist students to prepare thoughtful questions ahead of time so they can listen for the answers during the presentation. If students will be asking questions during or after the talk, help them get organized ahead of time. Planning and practice help the event flow easier.
- Identify how the speaker / topic / field trip connect to the curriculum. How has their learning been enhanced?
- Lastly, teachers and librarians, we welcome your class comments. Feel free to reach out through our contact form on our websites.
NY Teacher Shares a Lesson
I started reading your book SIOUX CODE TALKERS OF WORLD WAR II with thoughts of my WWII unit in mind. As I was reading, I came upon a selection describing how the word Sioux came to be and how they were forced off the land by the US government/army.
While I cover this each year, I felt that your writing lent itself to an activity I do with my 8th graders.
I wanted to let you see how the kids interacted with the text. This was the first time they have done this type of activity. As the year goes on, they get much better at it.
The objective is for students to show comprehension of the content by creating an Acrostic Poem as a group. The base of the poem is an Enduring Issue they chose from a list we brainstormed together in class. (kids worked in groups of 3).
Some of the Enduring Issues chosen were Greed, Starvation, Discrimination, Survival, Conflict.
Students first listed all the words they could find in the selection that coincided with the letters in their Enduring Issues word. As a group, they had to create sentences for each letter of the word.
I explained their sentences should be such that if someone read their Acrostic Poem, they would have a decent feeling for the reading without actually having to read it.
Also, unlike most writing assignments, I didn’t expect these sentences to be grammatically correct because some of the words they choose don’t typically fall at the beginning of a sentence. Also, we had only 2 class periods and no time to edit and revise. Content was the focus.
I’ve included 4 of the best examples, although many of the other ones were on target too.
I provided source material on the pages I printed out, and I also had a copy of the book available for them to use.
P.S. The stickers were added by students. As they circulated around and read each others work, they marked the sentences they liked best… so I don’t know why there are stickers on areas without a sentence. Ah, middle school.
Kelley Mariano, Canandaigua Schools, Canandaigua, NY
WRAD 2023 Follow Up
An important thing to remember is to send a thank you note to your presenters. WRAD is a day to give back, to interact with students and teachers, and is on a volunteer basis. If you’d like to keep this event going strong, a little acknowledgement for spending time with your class goes a long way.
I received a lovely email thank you from one of the school librarians this year. It made me made me realize the importance of connecting with kids. As you may know, I retired from elementary teaching after 34 years in the classroom, and I do miss the kids. Choosing to volunteer for WRAD let’s me be part of a few classrooms again. This librarian’s note this came at just the right time. It’s been a challenging couple years as a writer. However, I the words of encouragement from this librarian and her class really made a difference this year.
Thank you, Liz (Anne M. Dorner Middle School in Ossining, NY) for the kinds words. You definitely touched my heart.
I’ll share a snippet of what she sent below…