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.
I’ve had my 15 minutes and have loved all your warm and supportive comments. I’m grateful to all.
Now let’s talk about beauty. Here are a few shots of plants around our yard. Back in 1958 or so I took a botony course from Dr. Laura Bond, who was also my biology advisor at Drury.
We followed Dr. Bond around the campus like so many ducklings as she pointed out the multitude of plants that flourished there. I paid scant attention. At the time I was far more interested in fauna than flora. I still love animals but these days I wish I had paid more attention to plants. Today I think they are fascinating.
I’m focusing on the poetry workshop next week in Honesdale but today I look forward to speaking to the Advanced Writers Workshop at Drury, which is part of this year’s Writing Center program: Writers Talk, Brown Bag Lunches. The course is taught by professor Jo Van Arkel who is a fine writer.
Sorry to be so brief in my posts lately but it’s crunch time on several fronts, not the least of which is getting my hair cut before facing all those poets next week!
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.
REMINDER: Vote by 10:00 CST tonight. That’s when the polls cut off!
Mondays are when I like to present past Featured Guests to give us an update on recent and current activities. As is often the case, busy people can’t always take time off when they might like to. Therefore, I’m giving you my own update today.
First, meet my wife Sandy. This was taken on a trip to Dogwood Canyon near Branson, Missouri.
Pretty classy gal. I’d share a trunk with her any day.
I’ve had some nice things happen to my work recently.
As I mentioned last Saturday, PIRATES is on next year’s Young Hoosier Book Award Master Reading List along with 19 others in the intermediate category.
Nominated for one of the two SAA 2010 book awards—“a book that is written for the general public and presents the results of archaeological research to a broader audience” http://www.saa.org . The nomination stated, “Harrison’s book targets 4th-7th graders (ca. 9-12 year olds), a most-important age group that rarely receives nonfiction attention in this medium from the archaeological community. It is this age group that experiences tremendous intellectual development, when children begin to read to learn (rather than learn to read), start to think critically, and display a burgeoning curiosity about everything. Mr. Harrison has done a tremendous service for our discipline by focusing on this age group and introducing an up-to-date story full of concepts, facts, and current issues.”
At Pittsburg University, Dr. Anthony Boldurian, Professor of Anthropology and Director, Archaeology Program, writes, “It may interest you to know that next semester I am teaching for the first time a newly-developed course, directed specifically for majors in the Science Teacher-Ed program. The course, Science + Prehistory →Archaeology, is designed as a pedagogical approach to teaching teachers-to-be about how to instruct archaeology in the Science classroom (elementary & secondary levels). One of the texts I have for required reading is your Mammoth Bones and Broken Stones.”
Reprinted as the featured poem to start Chapter Two: “Learning about Reading and Literature,” in the latest edition (7th) of Essentials of Children’s Literature. Poems by Charles Ghigna and Rebecca Dotlich also appear in this book.
Selected by a western city to be lettered around their new bookmobile. I hope to learn more about the final design soon.
I just returned from NCTE in Orlando where I presented Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. We made new friends and, I hope, recruits to the monthly exercise in imagination. REMINDER: Voting ends tonight at 10:00 CST for the November poems.
On December 12-15 I’ll be in Paterson, New Jersey at three schools to provide professional development for teachers and work with their students. I’ll continue the work later on Skype.
I’m excited about the new program for Drury, to be called This Week with David Harrison. We have a team of four working out the details for a regular 7-8 minute program that teachers can bring into their classrooms nationwide. The central theme will be literacy and each week I’ll offer tips and ideas about writing and reading.
Yesterday was the kickoff for a book drive for preschool children, which is part of Family Voices (another project with Drury). We have recorded 17 well-known people reading 34 age appropriate books. This library of children’s literature will be given on a CD to parents who agree to record their own voices reading to their children. Families will also receive free books for their children five or under. More about that later.
On a closing note, I’m working on the final four poems to complete a new manuscript. The book will be published by Boyds Mills Press and illustrated by Dan Burr (who did PIRATES.)