By the end of the two-week tour, I'd grown to love the GPS in my rental car and had learned that I needed .5 liters of water, ideally not cold, for every hour of speaking. But everything went smoothly, Route 128 traffic notwithstanding, and not once did the technology fail.
Whether grade 6 or grade 12, inner city or posh suburb, student questions were at turns insightful, challenging, unique and fun, and all the student and teacher responses to Orchards inspired me and motivated me day after day. Teachers had created units around the book and elaborate lesson plans, and students had written verse and letters in advance of my visits.
One of my favorite sessions was for an International Cuisine class on the art of making bento--Japanese boxed lunches:
|Preparations set, ready for the students|
|Making Japanese tamagoyaki--egg roll up|
|Composing a bento|
|More incredible results|
I particularly enjoyed an intensive interview discussion with a group of ESL students from Puerto Rico, the Ukraine, Haiti and Thailand.
And it was amazing to see the results of students developing their own scenes in verse
|Students writing scenes in verse|
Other favorite moments include:
- Hearing Orchards response poems movingly read to me one by one
- After sessions, students bringing me poems or stories they'd written privately
- Meeting students from all over--including Haiti, Lebanon, Syria, Japan
- Meeting librarians who love and understand and booktalk YA lit to English classes
- Ordering from a lunch menu at one school and selecting "The Orchards" sandwich--apple slices and brie cheese
- A middle-schooler who was predicted to be trouble for me leaving a session saying, "I dunno. Now I'm thinking maybe I'll write a novel."
- Surprising hometown and Japan connections
- Brand new creative commons libraries
- Creative uses of traditional libraries
- Lunches with teachers and librarians
- Lunches with students
- All the questions about Japan