Over the course of a week in November, Zetta Elliott visited Ms. Mayers’ 6th grade class at JHS 13 to conduct a workshop on picture books, with a particular emphasis on the role of symbol, image, and memory in storytelling.
Students had read and generated responses to Ms. Elliott’s Bird, a wonderful narrative of a young man’s first experiences with difficult relationships and the loss of loved ones.
Ms. Elliott led students in a discussion of the book, focusing especially on the function of symbols in a story, and the relationship between image and text in a picture book. Illustrated beautifully by Shadra Strickland, Bird made for a great axis for such a discussion.
Ms. Elliott then conducted a thorough set of pre-writing exercises, beginning with word associations, moving on to memory-stimulation through music, and culminating in a post-card written to a person of great personal significance who is far away. Ms. Elliott went through the process herself, sharing with students her own journey through her memories of an important relationship.
In a subsequent visit, the class discussed elements of a story, and developed an outline for a story of their own, based on their postcards. Students also learned about sequencing by arranging a set of ten events from Bird in the order in which they occur in Elliott’s original narrative.
They then created a ten step sequence for their own stories, which they will develop into illustrated short stories as a final project.
In related news, Ms. Sheryl Mayers was awarded Teacher of the Month, and has a ton of pizza coming her way. Way to go! Good education should be just that delicious.