January is a time of new beginnings. We make promises and resolutions to ourselves that are often broken within the first two weeks. My personal resolution for the 2020 year is to write more often. Or if I am not writing then I must be reading someone else’s writing or studying the business of writing. So, with my resolution in mind and trying to at least keep it for two weeks, I attended the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) Picture Book from A to Sea Beach Retreat in San Simeon from January 10-12.
The picture book boot camp was directed by a great crew including Rebecca Langston-George, Barbara Bietz and April Halprin Wayland. Like summer camp you arrive with apprehension: who will be there, what will we do and how will I fit in. At least at this camp if I am unhappy I can drive myself home. The opposite would prove to be true. Each of the hosts provided outstanding information about writing in general and writing for children’s books in particular. Our schedule of events started on Friday night at the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort. We received the usual welcome and made introductions; this would be the only perfunctory event of the weekend.
The rest of the schedule included a packed itinerary of mentoring round tables, critique groups and workshops on using social media, editing your manuscript, writing query letters and submitting to publishers. The food was outstanding and the company of children’s book authors was delightful. I fit in very well and made new friends like you are suppose to at camp, we just call it networking now that we are all over 14 years old.
Participating in the writing retreat was a great way to jump start my 2020 Year of Writing. Since the retreat I have continued to keep my resolution by trying to be very attentive to why I made it in the first place. The more you write and engage in your craft the better you get at doing it. You make your own luck after all. And after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant on January 26, I decided to adopt the Mamba Mentality as a road map on how to spend more time writing. Kobe was the first to arrive and the last to leave practices, we can all learn from that behavior and dedication.
During the beginning of February, I listened to Stephen King’s book On Writing while driving to work. Hearing the ultimate coach giving a pep talk about how to dedicate more time to writing was a helpful way to stay on track. Throughout the month of February I wrote in my journal about my progress which included studying the children’s book writing market, attending Independent Writers of Southern California meetings, buying a subscription for Publishers Weekly Magazine and editing my second book.
I have now completed my second book. My book started the new year with a total 1400 words. I recognized after the Beach Retreat that was too many words and I needed to really reconsider what I had produced. After many hours of working on drafts, I am submitting my 1000 word manuscript. I have found that this amount of words is a cutoff for many publishers accepting nonfiction children’s picture book manuscripts for children between 4-7 years of age. I feel much better about my book now and hopefully that translates to an offer.
Another thing I learned from the beautiful weekend in San Simeon is that we are all working writers if we are submitting our manuscripts. I am grateful for the guidance I received during the SCBWI Beach Retreat. Rebecca Langston-George, Barbara Bietz and April Halprin Wayland are great cheerleaders who provided a lot of motivational talks and excellent information about writing children’s books. Mamba Forever! RIP Kobe and Gianna.
On April 20, 2019 at 11 AM at Playa Vista Library, I spoke with a group of children and their parents. The goals of my presentation were two-fold including:
After reading my book, the children had an opportunity to do activities with stamps and stickers representing different animals and their specialties. I had biological samples of feathers, bird eggs, shells, beetles, snake skin, different bones from mammals… The live animals included my pets: a Leopard Gecko and two Firebelly Toads.
For the parents I provided a small binder of articles about STEM Early Childhood Education and Next Generation of Science Standards. I felt really great about the program. I plan to continue to reach out to local librarians to conduct STEM Education Workshops.
The first 3 phases of the 5-E Lesson Plan (Engage, Explore, and Explain) prepare the students for phase 4 – Elaborate. In this stage of the 5 E’s students will expand their conceptual understanding of the content of the lesson. They should develop a deeper understanding of the information. The methods used to provide the avenues for delving deeper should include allowing the students to practice skills and behaviors.
Practicing skills should involve collaborative learning and problem-solving. Collaborative learning is supported by the Theory of Social Constructivism. This theory which is attributed to Lev Vygotsky (1978), emphasizes the importance of the collaborative nature of learning and that all cognitive functions are believed to originate in and are explained as products of social interactions. Students should be encouraged to engage in open-ended discussions with peers and teachers about such things as meaning of terms and procedures, relationship among ideas, and the applications of knowledge to specific contexts (Snowman & McCown, 2013). Problem-based learning (PBL) provides the opportunities for interacting with the content material that emphasize critical thinking skills and not just listening to a lecture. Research has shown that PBL allows students to form a better conceptual understanding and transfer their learning to other situations (Yadav, Lundeberg, Bunting & Subedi, 2011).
Evaluate is the last phase of the 5-E Lesson Plan. This phase encourages students to assess their understanding and abilities. Students are asked to recognize the key concepts of the lesson and show what skills they developed as part of the lesson. The evaluation should include feedback on the student’s strength and needs.
Each 5-E lesson that a teacher delivers is an opportunity to have the students transform to a higher level. The changes to the students include improved overall achievement toward mastery of the content and increased skills development.
Howard Gardener’s definition of intelligence uses 3 primary and overarching categories:
The next two phases of the 5 E Lesson Plan are Explore and Explain. During these two phases, students will be asked to use and expand their intelligence to identify and develop concepts, processes and skills. During the 2nd E (Explore) Phase students are required to actively explore their environments and manipulate materials. They will then connect the dots from Exploring to learning the lesson plans concepts. The teacher will give the students different opportunities to verbalize the lesson’s concepts and demonstrate the new behaviors and skills. Teachers will often rely on different methods to help students retain the information such as word charts, think-pair-share or graphic organizers. The 3rd E (Explain) Phase should include intentional play which will allow children to develop self-regulatory skills, supports communication and fosters collaborative learning.
The 5-E Lesson Plan uses a constructivist approach. Constructivism is a learning strategy that was developed by Jean Piaget and become popular during the 1960s. The constructivist method or approach allows students to synthesize new understanding from prior knowledge and helps students build on the past to develop new information.
Finger painting and building blocks were the staples of Baby Boomer’s kindergarten classrooms across the US throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. But if you visit a kindergarten classroom in Los Angeles, New York, Miami or Chicago in 2016, you will find a much different environment, pedagogy and curriculum for our current 5-6 year old children. Teachers can tell their Generation Z students, “this is NOT your grandparent’s kindergarten” as they hand out Apple iPads and deliver their science lesson using a 5-E lesson plan format.
What you will witness during a 5-lesson plan will be the topic of a blog discussion where I will breakdown the phases of the lesson and provide an explanation and rationale for each segment.
All lesson plans start with the lesson’s objectives. Each objective begins with a SWBAT –students will be able to. Please take 1 minutes to watch this video about SWBAT: https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/making-lesson-objectives-clear.
Phase I of the 5-E lesson plan. At the beginning of the lesson the teacher will supply an initial question or set of clues for students. These questions are designed to engage (first E) the students. The goal of the engagement phase is to capture the students’ interest and stimulate the content knowledge developed during previous lessons (prior knowledge). Many schools use a buzz phrase for the beginning of the science lesson such as “bell work” or “a do now”. This phase may include a graphic organizer including a KWL Chart (What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I Learned). The engagement may also be a video. If the lesson is about physics, the teacher could show a short video of a race car skidding to a halt and then have the students discuss the speed of the race car and the length of the skid marks. This phase should be a peek into the content that will be delivered during the rest of the lesson.
To purchase Look At Me, Look At Me-Can You Guess My Specialty?
you can go to the following websites:
eBAY ($19.50 with free postage & I can sign the book for you)
Etsy ($19.50 with free postage & I can sign the book for you)
Amazon ($20.00 plus shipping cost, I can’t sign the book)