I’ve talked in the past about one of my projects as poet laureate for Drury University — Family Voices — which I co-chaired with Laurie Edmondson, a professor in the School of Education and Early Childhood Development. For a number of years our committee steered a community-wide appeal to parents of children from birth to five to read to their kids on a regular basis. During those first sixty months of life the human brain is hungry for information and absorbs life’s lessons at a pace never to be matched during the rest of the lifetime.
When we eventually brought an end to the project, Laurie set up a site where we might continue to remind parents long after our major activities were over. https://www.facebook.com/ozarksfamilyvoices
Now and then I post something on the site. A number of people have discovered its presence and follow it. I don’t think of myself as a nag, exactly. I see myself as a friendly but passionate advocate for early childhood literacy. I’ve learned that a good photograph helps draw readers to the site so I often insert one from my own files of fans reading one of my books to their children. Altogether flattering, but I often feel awkward using them because it look too self serving.
I’m wondering if any of you might be willing to send me pictures of you or someone you know reading to a child in the 0-5 range with permission for me to post it on the Family Voices site. I would prefer that the books not be mine. There is no schedule for using these pictures. I sometimes go weeks between posting anything new. Other members of the committee are always encouraged to add thoughts of their own. There is only one purpose for this effort so anything that promotes it is appreciated.
Looks like a good week coming up. Monday is lunch with an old friend, Laurie Edmondson, a Drury University professor in the school of Education and Child Development, with whom I wrote a book about writing a few years ago.
Thursday evening is the annual Missouri Writers Hall of Fame Student Awards Banquet. I had the pleasure to help start the organization with three others in 1993. At this event four of us will read the winning works of area students who were selected from entries in the LAD Fair (sponsored by the Language Arts Department at Missouri State University in Springfield), itself an annual event that attracts around 7,000 student entries each year.
Friday evening is the annual banquet sponsored by The Breech School of Business at Drury. The school is named for Drury graduate Ernie Breech who, during his brilliant career, served as head of Ford Motor Company and Trans World Airlines. I was inducted into the Breech School of Business Hall of Fame in 2004. This year an old fraternity brother is being inducted so I look forward to seeing him again after all these years.
Saturday from 10:00 – 12:00 I’ll sign my newest book, CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS, at Barnes & Noble in Springfield.
Otherwise it looks like a good week for writing and I know exactly what I’ll be working on. Unless, of course, something else comes up. Which, of course, is likely to happen.
My responsibilities as poet laureate for Drury University include hosting events meant to stimulate interest in writing among students in elementary, middle, and high schools. One of our most successful ones was in 2008. It was billed as “A Celebration of Writing.” Partnering with Drury, MOREnet, and Springfield Public Libraries, we used videoconferencing and web streaming, plus live audiences of Springfield students from Boyd, Pipkin, and Central, to reach elementary, middle, and high school students in roughly 40 classes in four states.
I stood on stage in Lay Hall on the Drury campus and talked to live audiences for each of the three groups. On each occasion there were classes of students on the screen above my head so I could look up at them; and other kids, who were attending via steaming, were could watch and send questions during the session. Dr. Lauren Edmondson, interim director of the School of Education and Child Development, assisted and handed me questions that were e-mailed or texted in. I hasten to point out that the picture shows us on a different occasion and that is NOT an alcoholic beverage in our glasses!
Laurie and I have decided the time has come to reprise “A Celebration of Writing” and are planning it for late April. If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more as we go, please let me know to add you to the list. At this point I don’t know how far we can reach with the streaming. On a previous occasion I think we had kids in eleven states tuned in, but I’m still in the stage of exploring what’s possible for this event.
My new DVD series, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON is being officially introduced this weekend at International Reading Association’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. I don’t know how many will attend this year’s event but it will be well over 10,000 from the U.S. and numerous other countries.
I’ve posted about this kit before but I’d like to emphasize that a college graduate course is now available based on the DVDs, teachers’ guide book, and concept.
Dr. Lauren Edmondson, my co-author for the guide book and student writing journal, will teach the online course and can be reached for further information at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org . Laurie is also the Interim Director of the School of Education and Child Development at Drury University.
She and I worked together to create this class to appeal to teachers who want to enhance their skills for teaching writing to students in grades approximately 3-5. In districts where the kits are provided to elementary teachers, the class is a special opportunity to put LET’S WRITE to work. Laurie is ready and eager to hear from anyone who wants to know more about this unique course. Please pass this information along to others who might like to take a graduate course based on my forty years of work with students combined with Laurie’s many years of experience teaching in the classroom and teaching teachers to prepare for the classroom.
Writing partner Laurie Edmondson and I enjoyed the launch party on Thursday of our new kit, LET’S WRITE THIS WEEK WITH DAVID HARRISON. Here are a few pics from the party. Lots of people came so we had plenty of opportunities to show off the new DVDs, teacher guide, student writing journal, and three trade books used as examples for some of the lessons. We go national on the 19th at IRA in San Antonio but I bet it won’t be any more fun than we had at Drury on Thursday.
I’m grateful to Drury University, especially President Todd Parnell and former Director of the School of Education and Child Development Chris Craig for their encouragement and support throughout the project. The university provided the studio and financed the production of the DVDs and Brian Shipman used his considerable talents to produce and direct them.
This is a project I began as Drury’s Poet Laureate and I’m pleased to say that it reflects a true collaboration involving the university, co-author and interim Director of the School of Education and Child Development Laurie Edmondson, and me. There’s even an online graduate course offered to those who wish to take LET’S WRITE for credit. One teacher has already written about LET’S WRITE as part of her master’s program.
Many others gave valuable assistance along the way, particularly technology expert Damon Hargraves who developed the prototype for the DVD format we eventually selected.
Now comes the hard part: getting out the word to elementary schools across the country that we have a unique teaching tool to help students develop their writing skills. We’re ready when everyone else is! Here’s the contact information for anyone who wants to learn more and/or place an order.