“Children’s book creators inspire Bethesda Elementary students”

Another story from The Black & White’s Richard Scordato, about the presentation Steven and I did at Bethesda Elementary, our old elementary school from way back when:

Author Lance Kramer and illustrator Steven Weinberg, creators of the children’s story book “Great Ancient China Projects You Can Build Yourself,” visited Bethesda Elementary students to speak about their careers Dec. 2.

Bethesda Elementary staff felt the visit would be an educational experience for students.

“I wanted the children to learn more about living the life of a writer and an artist and to recognize that people have different strengths,” says Karen Sanchez, Bethesda elementary reading specialist. “I also wanted our students to gain more insight into the writing process. They need to realize that working hard in elementary school is important, and that they should put forth their best effort.”

The visit focused on engaging students in reading and writing.

“The presenters shared experiences from their lives, as they articulated their paths to becoming an author and illustrator,” says Sanchez. “They also showed photographs of and shared information on China, discussed how the book evolved, and guided the children through the steps of making an abacus, which was one of the crafts in the book.”

Kramer and Weinberg initiated the visit after expressing interest in speaking to the students.

“Over the summer, Lance dropped off a copy of the book and offered to present to our students, so we met to plan the presentation,” says Sanchez. “It was a great opportunity, because Lance and Steven attended Bethesda Elementary. Even Lance’s kindergarten teacher attended the assembly.”

Students learned a lot about literature as well as China itself. “They learned things about China’s history and culture, the importance of persistence to reach a goal and about the writing and illustrating process,” says fourth grade teacher Christine McCord.

Many teachers were also impressed by the presentation and felt that the students learned a lot.

“The students definitely benefitted from the visit, and as a classroom teacher, I enjoyed listening to them talk,” says third grade teacher Christopher Zukoski. “Not only did they talk about writing and illustrating their book, but they also took the kids from the beginning of their writing in third grade to the present time. They even still had the books they had produced in third grade, which they shared with the kids.”

Parts of the presentation also focused on how even students have the potential to write novels.

“I think one of the greatest parts of the presentation was the author’s emphasis on how what they liked to do as kids carried them through school, and how they were able to continue to enjoy doing those things as adults,” says third grade teacher Jeanine Derr. “The hands-on approach to the activities was great too.”

Bethesda Elementary staff members expressed their hope for a return visit. “We would love to have them back again,” says Sanchez. “Lance and Steven were great with the children, and we enjoyed their visit and are looking forward to their next project!”

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