Students learn from authors

Traveling writers hold all-day workshop to inspire kids, teachers

CHAMPION — Two visiting authors provided expert advice to Champion Middle School students on ways to improve their writing.

Authors and poets Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger, who have conducted programs for children and adults throughout the United States and other countries including Istanbul, led assemblies and classroom writing workshops for students in grades 5-8 during their recent all-day visit to the school.

“What we do when we do the assemblies is show our work so the students know who we are and what we do. In the classroom writing workshops it is all about the students and their writing,” Salinger said

The two have written poetry books and also professional development books for teachers.

“When I go to the schools, it energizes my writing. We write for young people and need to know what their interests are,” Holbrook said.

Salinger said helping teachers is also important with teacher conferences and writing exercises for educators to use in their classrooms.

“We put the lessons we create in our books,” he said.

Holbrook said lessons for students have included everything from similes to prepositional phrases.

“We want the children to gain skills and apply them to different situations,” she said

For eighth grade classes, the two had students write from images they preselected in order to set the scene to begin writing.

Salinger worked with fifth grade students and did prewriting activities and organizing.

“We are very heavy into prewriting and preparing the notes,” he said.

This coming week, Holbrook and Salinger will be in Brazil and Arizona.

“What we do has taken us around the world and to other countries,” Holbrook said.

She said while no movie will ever be made from their books they do help students and teachers.

“We are doing what teachers would do if they had more time to do it,” said Salinger of the lessons and strategies they give to teachers to use in the classroom.

Holbrook, who holds a teaching degree, worked in public relations, while Salinger was an engineer for an automobile parts supply company.

“Poetry has been a part of all my life,” Salinger said.

Seventh-grade language arts teacher Andrea Baer said each year the school has an author visit with different activities related to the author planned.

She said fifth grade language arts teacher Carolyn Brown had heard Salinger and Holbrook and recommended they come to the school.

“We have been very fortunate to have many young adult authors and others attend our school. The students get very involved and enjoy the visits,” Baer said.

Holbrook and Salinger spent time meeting with students during a book signing.

Students prepared for the visit with a welcome banner at the main entrance area to the school.

Fifth-grader Morgan Abrahamson said she was excited with the visit of the authors.

“The assembly was fun and interesting. I have started reading their books,” she said,

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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