Today’s camp began with a visit from Julia Ridley Smith, a short story writer.
She began her presentation not talking directly about writing, but rather about the various jobs she has had throughout her life. These jobs ranged from being a student, to working at Ben and Jerry’s, to working in a Manuscript Library. Through listing all of her jobs, Smith also shared all of the lessons that she learned while working each. She then expanded these lessons to show how each influenced her writing, which she did throughout all of her jobs. Based on that point, Smith revealed to the campers a tool to use when trying to imagine a story to write about: think about a job and use that job description to guide your story. She listed a few ideas and questions that the campers could use to facilitate the process (see list below).
Towards the end of the presentation, Smith allowed the campers to draft a few introductory sentences to a story they envisioned, using the list above as a jumping off point. Some of the campers that were especially excited about their beginnings shared them with the group.
Once all that had wanted to share, had shared, the campers were able to ask Smith questions about her life as a writer.
After the author talk, the campers split up. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders went to the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the rest of the groups headed to their respective classrooms. Each group began to work on their stories, split up into small groups, or complete writing exercises. Nose to the grind, these campers are enthusiastically writing their stories.
Of course camp doesn’t always run smoothly. Sometimes the computers or the internet connection glitches, leaving the campers no choice but to temporarily abandon the computers. Luckily, the campers can just have an early snack time while they wait for the computers to work again. In the meantime, the campers can laugh and have fun with each other.
In addition to each class having a writing instructor, each class also has writing coaches, who are graduate students at UNCG. These coaches come to the classes around 10:00 everyday and stay until noon. They help with the brainstorming and editing processes that the campers go through, but, they also create mini-lessons that they teach to the campers in small groups. These mini-lessons are centered around the use of “tech” tools in learning and writing. Today the sixth grade writing coaches conducted their mini-lessons with topics on How to Write an Email, the Differences Between an iPhone Keyboard and a Laptop Keyboard, and How to Use Google Draw.
These mini-lessons are conducted primarily during the first week of camp.