One of the best experiences I had while we were on our recent trip to New England and the East Coast was being a guest at my great niece, Anna’s first grade class in Fairfax, Virginia. The class was working on a poetry unit. They had spent a lot of time in the last two months writing and illustrating Ouch, Acrostic, Animal, Color, and Haiku poems in preparation for a program for family and friends called Poetry and Punch.
At first I thought Jessica, the teacher, wanted me to give them a lesson in writing Haiku – the poetry form they were currently working on. But, no. They already were writing them and knew all about the form. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was going to have a Question and Answer session with them. Jessica had the children sit on the rug in the front of the room and introduced me as Anna’s Aunt Madeline, the author. She then gave them the opportunity to ask me any questions they had about my work as a writer and author. And from the very first question I knew I was really in for a treat. These children knew exactly what to ask.
(stock photo - not from Anna's class)
Here are some of the questions they asked me:
Writing related questions:
Do you write chapter books?
What are the names of your books?
How did you learn to be a writer?
How did you get your first job?
Where do you write?
Do you write children’s books?
How do you make a book after you write it?
And a few personal questions:
How do you spell your name
Why did you change your last name when you got married?
What is your husband’s name?
After the Q and A, they went back to their tables and continued writing while Lyssa and I went around the room and helped them with wording and spelling. They then went back to the rug and volunteered to share their poems in practice for the poetry event the following week when they’ll get a chance to recite their poems to an audience with the help of a microphone.
I was indeed impressed with the creativeness of the teacher, the inquisitiveness of the students, and the work they are doing in class. I’ve always loved poetry – even as a child – but I didn't have lessons in writing poetry until much later in my life.