Hey! Welcome back for the report on Day 2 of the two-day public speaking frenzy for Ian and Eva. Day one was all about sharing passions in 15 minute presentations. During day two, Eva explored more in depth sharing. Let’s jump to it, shall we?
Friday: Video-Conference with Sweetwater Elementary in Devils Lake, ND
Thanks to the coordination of EduTech, Eva was a guest speaker via video conference to two classes of third graders at Sweetwater Elementary in Devils Lake, ND. She was a guest as part of Read Across North Dakota – a day devoted to shared literacy between classrooms via video conferencing. This was a completely new experience for Eva. She was in a room with a camera and a large screen. The kids she was talking to were in another room with a camera and a large screen, looking back. They were 180 miles apart. Additionally, this was the first time that Eva had presented to kids her own age.
Though we didn’t know this when we connected with the classroom, the Sweetwater students were fully prepared for their time with Eva. They had read her books, explored her website, watched her writing videos and prepared questions. They were excited and eager to lay eyes on Eva and interact with her. Eva was excited right back. She started with a brief presentation and then began answering questions as the kids raised their hands. They had great questions; they wanted to know more about how she got started, where she got her ideas, and if she enjoyed what she did.
After answering questions, we decided to have the kids act out one of the chapters from Attack of the Reptiles. We chose the battle scene, as it had the most action and included the most characters. The classroom was packed, so we asked the volunteer actors to simply stand and act out their roles from where they stood. Once Eva had coordinated the scene, I read the chapter out loud. We couldn’t see a lot from our end as the camera was blocked by legs and the like, but we heard tons of giggling over the speakers as the kids played out their parts.
And there were more and more questions afterwards. The Sweetwater students were now departing from their prepared inquiries and going out on their own, coming up with new questions piqued by their time together. Eva asked for a show of hands of kids who either wanted to write or who were already writing their own stories. The vast majority of hands shot up. Eva encouraged them to keep writing and to share their success with her through her website. It was a wonderful time.
When we got home, we received a delightful email from one of the staff at Sweetwater, who had videoed some of the experience from the Devils Lake end. She posted it on youtube, which means I can share it with you here!
They also posted a lovely entry on their school’s website. Thanks so much to the staff, students, and teachers who coordinated the event and made it so successful. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with you!
Later that morning: Saxvik Elementary in Bismarck, ND
After the video conference, Eva and I set off across town for Saxvik Elementary. Eva’s presentation here was also a part of Read Across North Dakota, but since the school was local, we decided that an in-person visit made more sense. We were greeted by the smiles of two more classes of third graders and a host of friendly teachers. We discovered that though these children had not read Eva’s books, they had spent a lot of time on her website, exploring her videos. Like the Sweetwater students, the Saxvik kids had all prepared questions for Eva.
Eva spent some time answering the kids’ questions, and we invited the kids to play-act the battle chapter of Reptiles. We had more room to spread out, and we divided the students into birds and reptiles. Eva gave the backstory, and soon all the kids were ready to play their parts. It was so much fun. The kids acted out their parts beautifully, were very respectful, and giggled all the way through.
After the reading, the students returned to their seats, and Eva began asking them questions about their own interests. Many of the kids wanted to be writers (or already were writers), but there were also three aspiring mathematicians, some engineers, atheletes, artists, and a couple of veterinarians. These eight and nine year olds already had definite plans and dreams. Since this was a presentation on writing, Eva talked again to the writers of the group, asking if they now felt like they had the tools to turn their works into books. Eager nods all around.
Several students wanted to hear Birds on the Run. Though Eva has never read from her own books aloud (she prefers that I do it), she agreed to read it herself, and did it, from a comfy rocking chair in the front of the class. Of course the class didn’t realize it, but this was another big step for Eva; I can see her confidence blooming daily. They were a delightful audience, and the teachers closed the presentation with some group photos.
During these two days, I had a lot of reflections. I loved watching how positive the experience was for both Eva and the students. There was true sharing going on here, and genuine mutual inspiration. I wished for these kinds of opportunities to be available for more kids. There are so many children out there with extraordinary talents and passionate interests. What if we had a “Share Your Expertise” event, set up like Day 1′s Career Day? Tables spread out and hosted by kids for kids. Or perhaps we could have an ongoing video conferencing program that connected kids like Eva and Ian with students across the state or country. Topics could rotate based on the interests of the presenter. Could be interesting….