"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kristin Levine answers question after question after...

Last week, my fourth graders visited via Skype with Kristin Levine, the author of The Lions of Little Rock, The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had.

My students are in the midst of a unit on the Civil Rights Movement and are reading many books on the subject. Some of the classrooms have finished reading The Lions of Little Rock, while others have not. Prior to our Skype visit the students described themselves as beverages the same way Kristin Levine has her character Marlee describe her family as beverages. You can read about that project here.

For this Skype visit, one class prepared questions (the first one to finish the book). We started with those questions and moved on to an open Q&A.  Kristin was wonderful answering the questions and had vignettes and memorable stories to go along with her answers. As soon as she neared the end of a response, thirty hands shot right back into the air. The visit lasted about fifty-five minutes, but could have gone on for another hour.

The students learned that Kristin Levine:

*doesn't like describing how people look, she would rather find other ways to make the character memorable.

*based some of the characters off of people she knows.

*is working on a new book that takes place during the McCarthy Era, that is based on her father's family's experience. 

Kristin Levine helped them understand:

*that rough drafts help the writer to get a better story

*that they shouldn't try to make a first draft perfect

*that ideas can change after your rough draft

*that it's okay if your rough draft is not that good, it is a place to begin.

*the steps to her writing process

*that writing is just redoing

*that Lions of Little Rock was based upon her mom's experience

*that not every day is a good writing day

*that some good books can have real information in them

*that books that aren't all true can have real facts

*that writers do a lot of revising

*that some writers might have to throw away a lot of work( (150 pages!)

The students have some additional questions for Kristin:

How do you do your research?

How do you edit?

Did you have to do research on segregation?

Do you have a special place you like to write?

For the reflection and assessment of this author visit I gave each of the four classroom a different prompt, 

What did you learn?

What new strategies will you apply to your writing?

Kristin Levine explained...

What is your "take away" from this visit?

The one that received the most thoughtful responses from students was the one that asked them to finish the sentence. The second best responses came from the question "What did you learn?"  Food for thought as I continue to hone my assessment skills. 

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