Author visits Riverside Summer Literacy Institute

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Riverside Elementary School recently hosted a Summer Literacy Institute to help students develop their creative and critical thinking abilities with written language.

Within the Institute's workshop structure, 75 students used the writing process that emphasizes an interwoven relationship between language and thought. The workshop focused on creativity and inspiring students to look at reading and writing in a fun and creative way as they prepare for the upcoming school year.

Fifteen participating teachers used the Institute as an opportunity for professional development. The Institute was also designed to extend and deepen teacher participants' knowledge of balanced literacy instruction by focusing on the craft of readers' and writers' workshops.

The highlight of the final day of the summer workshop was a visit by local author Gail Karwoski, who has had nine children's books published since 1999. She has also taught for 13 years in public schools and has contributed to two textbooks.

Karwoski led three workshops at Riverside. She first met with upper elementary students and discussed how she selected true-life details to create her book "Quake," which features the adventures of two fictional boys and a stray dog who were separated from heir families during the disaster.

After sharing her knowledge with older students, Karwoski shared her bedtime story, "River Beds: Sleeping in the World's Rivers," with the younger students. She invited her audience to come along on an imaginary expedition through the world's rivers to discover how river mammals sleep.

After the students left, Karwoski held a lunch and learn session with the participating teachers. Participants gained additional knowledge of the writing process and a firm concept of how the reading-writing connection can be forged by generating creative writing from history.

Karwoski encouraged a hands-on approach to teaching history and discussed the time limits of social studies and effectively integrating history into the whole curriculum. She suggested using historical fiction books as a living history museum.

Karwoski also demonstrated writing a story from a historical prompt and shared tips on crafting a hook to grab the reader's attention.

"Adding Gail Karwoski was an excellent addition to an already incredible workshop," said Lynne Franks, a third-grade teacher. "She engaged all of the children and appealed to them through the senses.

"It was inspiring to watch her interact with the children. Her books provided a rich basis for children to experience language. I will use these books often in my own teaching."

Heather Darenberg writes about education. Good News From Schools appears in the Sunday edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post.