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

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wherein we receive a visit from Louise Borden

The wonderful Louise Borden happened to be in my neck of the woods and was able to squeeze in a visit to our school. She met with our three fourth grade classrooms this morning.  It was much fun, and, as important, it was an informative and inspiring visit. 

Have a look:
The classroom teachers had the students think about questions for morning work.  Here are a few things the students wanted to know:

"Do you have a special way of organizing your notes when you research?"

"What is a favorite book that you have read?"

"Do you do a lot of note-taking before you write down a draft for your story?"

"What are good fiction and nonfiction writing strategies/"

"What resources do you use: books, websites, etc?"

"What are your favorite books to look in?"

"Where do you do your note taking?"

"What is your favorite genre to write?"

"What is your favorite genre to read"?

"What inspired you to be a writer and why was it mostly historical fiction and biographies?"

"What was your favorite book when you were a kid?"

"How do you get ideas for your books?"

Louise was full of great stories and advice. I took many notes:

She talked about liking to write about journeys and adventures and how the stories of the characters became her own stories,

Louise showed how ideas, experiences, people, and artifacts from her own life became threads and objects in her stories. Hearing that the idea for the polished Sunday-best shoes in Across the Blue Pacific came from a pair of shoes she wore as a child made the subsequent reading of that story all the more rich and meaningful. 

I was happy that Louise emphasized that each book is a team effort, and using a baseball analogy, she explained that she is just one player when she steps up to the plate with her idea. Hearing about real world collaboration and teaming reinforces the work that we do with students and students do with each other each day. 

When Louise spoke about writing biographies and finding connections with her subjects, their hobbies, and their accomplishments.

When talking about writing biographies, she encouraged the students to listen to: ask wondering questions; become a detective; and look at the details. When she noticed the mark on the canoe that one for the Wright Brothers had used as a pontoon on his aircraft, she researched the maker of the canoe and visited the place where the shop existed in New York City.

Louise's research for the book on Margaret and H.A. Rey was extensive. The students were amazed that she traveled around the world gathering information on the Rey's. The fact that many of these documents had not been looked at in many years was astounding to them, as was her quest to find the chateau that the Rey's lived in while in France.  The students also loved that the Rey's traveled to the United States with a dummy of the first Curious George book, although it was not titled that at that time. 

There is really too much to share, so I will stop with this last piece of advice that Louise received from a teacher and that I think is so apt. I can't quote it exactly, but it was something about recognizing that she enjoyed research and wishing her a bon voyage!

How fitting for Louise and the work she has done. What a wonderful encouragement for all learners...a wish for good travels in our hearts and in our minds.
It was a great morning!

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