Every year our school does a Young Authors Day – 2018 will be our 11th one. I have headed up this activity every year, first as the school Curriculum Coordinator and now as the Library Media Specialist.
The first couple of years I actually went into the classrooms and team-taught with many of the teachers. Writing was one of the weaker areas at our school and we started the Young Authors Day in an effort to make it stronger. When I became the school librarian, my time became less flexible, but I still have a passion for helping the teachers.
Last year I did monthly “Young Authors Day Teacher Talk.” I gave the teachers some ideas for what they could be doing in their classroom to be working toward the spring event. I’ll tell you more about those Talks in a later post.
This year our Young Authors Day is May 4 at the end of Children’s Book Week.
The elementary teachers choose a variety of projects – some fiction and some non-fiction. This year I am anticipating biographies, non-fiction on a variety of topics, tall tales, and a variety of fiction.
I’m really excited about this year’s Young Authors Day as, for the first time, our middle school is participating. The middle school classes are creating a poetry book which they will be sharing.
Our seniors are also participating. Each year our senior regular English class has a children’s literature unit. The teacher’s goal is to talk to the students as future parents and help them remember the books read to them as children. As part of this unit, the students also create a book.
My role in this event is pure organization as well as supporting the teachers as they work with their students.
The first step is to divide the students up into groups for sharing. I print out several copies of the class lists of the classes involved. I am fortunate to have some student aides who do the dividing for me. They then type the groups up into a Google doc for each session – we have 3. One group starts at the top of each list, another starts at the bottom of each list, for the third I have them take the first students from the first class, the second student from the second class, and so on until each group has 10 or 11 students.
After my aides have divided the kiddos up, I go through the lists and look for any potential discipline issues and to make sure relatives are separated if necessary. I then bold the name of oldest/highest grade student – they become the leader of that group. At this point I also assign locations. I usually put 2 or 3 groups in each of our elementary classrooms. On the day, the classroom teachers are to support the student group leaders and handle any major discipline problems.
This year, for the first time, I had my aides create a Google sheet which lists the students in each class, where they are for each of the three sessions, and who their group leader is for each session. This will give the teachers a list for their individual class – this was an issue in previous years when I didn’t have lists by classroom – lost children didn’t know where to go.
We also make a bookmark for each child which lists their location and leader for each session. There will also be a certificate of participation for each of the young authors.
Next week I will be giving each of the supporting teachers a packet of information. Included in this packet will be:
-list of all of the groups
-list of their students with location and leader for each session
-bookmarks for each student
-certificate of participation for each student
On the day, I help with crowd control, directing traffic, recess duty, and taking pictures. The middle school teachers will be helping me with these duties since the event will happen in elementary classes. I also try to find a couple of parent volunteers to help with these duties as well.
Our day will wrap up with an author/illustrator visit. Some years I struggle with finding someone. This year we are having the niece of one of our teachers who is an illustrator. Last year we had one of our parents who has self published a children’s book. We have also had local authors and parents who are involved in some aspect of the publishing industry. We have even done a Skype visit with Chris Fabry who co-wrote the Left Behind for Kids series and other children’s books.
What activities are you involved with during Children’s Book Week this year?