At J.W. Reason our purpose is for students to be curious learners who show a passion for growth as they become independent readers, writers and thinkers. Author-illustrator Steve Harpster inspired and modeled this mindset during his visit to J.W. Reason on January 22nd.
In his presentations to grade levels 2nd through 5th, he and the students created a graphic novel using the elements of a story. He encouraged students to use their imaginations as they brainstormed who the main character was and the setting as well as the tone. Together they laughed and collaborated on the sequence of events that included the conflict and the resolution. This vocabulary is used by their teachers in the classroom too. He shared this story creation process in three of his five presentations. Each unique story met with enthusiasm at this shared learning experience.
The kindergarten and first grade students used letters and numbers to follow a sequence of steps to create animals. The excitement was heard as one student repeatedly whispered under his breath, “Ooh, la, la!” (This means “Wow!” in his native country of Guatemala) as he drew pictures that came to life in his journal. Another student declared, “This is magic!”.
Sometimes writing can be difficult for students. Steve Harpster emphasized to “show not tell” the story to allow readers to visualize what is happening. He also said that practice is important even when you make mistakes, finish the process so that you learn from it. He shared his journey of the creation process and how he too makes mistakes. Many students could be heard stating, “I can’t wait to write my own story!” Each student left with new creations in his/her writing journal or storyboard, empowered to draw and write a narrative story using creativity and imagination. In fact a few third grade students proudly returned later showing Steve Harpster their stories with character dialogue that they had just created using an app, Explain Everything, on their iPads!