Saturday, April 12, 2014

Author Frances O'Roark Dowell Visits South View Middle!

Here I am with Frances O'Roark Dowell (Author of Dovey Coe)
On April 8th, Frances O'Roark Dowell (Author of Chicken Boy, Shooting the Moon, Secret Language of Girls Trilogy) stopped by South View Middle School to discuss her first novel, Dovey Coe.  

My 6th Graders had been anticipating her visit since we started reading the book in early February.  My media specialist (Jody Phillips), my students, and I worked tirelessly to prepare for the experience.  Each evening, I went home and recorded the chapter because the book does not have an audio version. Essentially, I created an audio/video version of Dovey Coe for educational purposes in my classroom only.  Here are a few pictures showcasing my recording experience.

My students created Dovey Coe Case Files/Magic Books in order to dissect information from the book. Each day, we would read a chapter. Next, the students would have to create a title for the chapter.  We are going to send our top three choices for each chapter to Mrs. Dowell!  After labeling the chapter, the students would write objective summaries recapping the chapter.  They had to stick to the facts, eliminating their opinions.  Lastly, they had to complete a Chapter Assessor Using Gridded Response (below).  The students had to rate the chapter (the range being from -5 to +5) and bubble in their opinion of the chapter.  This was a great conversation tool because the students all had different values.  However, each student had to justify their choice.
Students used gridded response to rank each chapter of Dovey Coe.
After each chapter, we developed rigorous questions for the author. The questions went through a true vetting process.  The questions had to have the support of 80% of the students in order to make it on the official list.  I was beyond thrilled when Mrs. Dowell said that she had never been asked some of the questions.

I also utilized the novel to prepare my students for a major project that I was initiating called Operation Inquiry.  With Operation Inquiry, they had to write a research paper, create a product, and present in front of a panel of middle school teachers from across my school district.  As a forerunner for Operation Inquiry, I had my students to select an item that they would like to sell if they had a booth at a farmers market.  They had to write a research paper about their product, bring the product, and present in front of their peers.  Caroline and Dovey visited a farmers market early in the book, and I thought this approach would be a great way to simulate what I wanted for Operation Inquiry.  Here are a few photos from the farmers market presentations.

What impressed me the most about Mrs. Dowell was how down-to-earth and approachable she was.  She came into the media center, and she was very unassuming.  She gave her all to my students.  She shared delightful tales about her life and her experiences as a writer.  When it was time to sign copies of her book, she genuinely chatted with each of my students.  All 100 of them! Each child walked away with a HUGE smile on his/her face, which put a GIGANTIC smile on my face!

Below are photos and a video highlighting the unforgettable experience!


I thought that there was no possible way that this experience could get any better.  Boy was I wrong!  On Friday, I received an email from Mrs. Dowell informing me that she had discussed her visit to our school on her website.  Please visit her website to read what she wrote.  I am sincerely honored!  Here is the link:

Frances O'Roark Dowell is quite IMPRESSIVE!