October 14, 2016 - Michael Salinger

McKinley Elementary School


And away we go!

Sara and I start another school year and we couldn’t have asked for a better kick off than McKinley Elementary in Elyria, Ohio! Not only do we get to begin our season in our home State which has become too rare an occurrence for us (hint hint Ohio schools – we love arriving in our Subaru instead of an airplane) but this visit was perfectly prepared for by the teachers.  Extra Kudos to Lisa Ward and Dawn Neely Randall!

All the kids were familiar with our work – many had illustrated poems downloaded from our Poems for Your Classroom page over at our website. This led to more than a few excellent questions after our assemblies.


During our most excellent potluck soup and salad lunch Lisa told us how important the teachers of the school thought author visits were. That these interactions show kids that writers and illustrators are people and get s them excited to read and write themselves. Bringing an author into the school is not a diversion – it’s part of a holistic learning environment fostered at this exceptional little school.


We did three assemblies for the kiddos that allowed us to differentiate them amongst grade levels from K to 5. This was luxury we are not always afforded. then we split up in the afternoon and led a couple writing workshops with the 5th graders. It was during these workshops that I was super impressed with the vocabulary being used by the students – I was asked if I believed I was stellar poet (I said I thought I was okay) another asked if I thought being a fluent reader was important to understanding poetry (I replied that it helps but re-reading is also a good strategy to develop fluency. Turns out these were a couple of the vocabulary words Dawn was teaching her students as part of a two word a day program. They were taking them out for a spin and I was delighted to be part of their test drives.

So – McKinley Elementary – thanks for a great beginning to our school year – hope we made your day half as fun as you made ours.

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“Sara and Michael bring infectious energy and joy leavened with deep knowledge of best practices in literacy to their work with children and teachers.” Ellin Keene – Author of Mosaic of Thought and The Teacher You Want to Be
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