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Oswego Elementary Writers Inspired By Nationally Recognized Author

OSWEGO, NY – Nearly 100 elementary fifth and sixth grade students sat tightly knitted together on the floor of the Frederick Leighton Elementary School media center.

For more than an hour they listened intently, asked inquisitive questions and began to “dream” of becoming an author.

Bruce Coville enthralls Oswego students at the Frederick Leighton and Charles E. Riley elementary schools.
Bruce Coville enthralls Oswego students at the Frederick Leighton and Charles E. Riley elementary schools.

Noted children’s author Bruce Coville recently visited the Oswego City School District and took youngsters on a journey through writing books.

His entertaining style enthralled and captivated every age group of students he met.

Coville’s animated presentation style kept the youngsters focused and inspired an interest in reading and writing.

Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist viewed one of the presentations and was engrossed in the message that Coville was sending to Oswego’s students.

Crist noted, “This was a fantastic experience for our students. It was interesting and motivational. He brought inspiration to the students to believe that they can be writers and authors.”

Continuing he said, “He inspired our students to take risks about getting on with writing. He presented great examples which paralleled his own life. He started writing when he was in sixth grade and explained that hard work is necessary to have a completed project. I was very impressed with what I saw.”

Coville explained that not everything he had written had been published.

He noted that rewriting and editing were common place.

He also told the students to use their imaginations and put ideas down on paper.

The author explained that sometimes its takes years to finish a project which others take substantially less time.

Frederick Leighton Elementary School teacher Laurel Artz coordinated the effort as part of the Arts in Education program.

Artz explained, “The students were thrilled to meet an author they had heard so much about and many were familiar with his books. They were very interested in his explanation of how a story begins and then grows as details are added. Mr. Coville talked about how a story starts with three parts. The example he gave was the story about a boy, a book and a puddle. He showed how this simple idea can evolve with the addition of details to become an entire book.”

In many cases as soon as students returned to the classroom they started working in their writer’s notebooks. They brainstormed lists of people, objects and places.

Artz said, “They then selected one from each list and began thinking about details that would help the story. This will become a longer writing piece which we will work on for several sessions. They will work on making characters real and worth caring about and then have the character solve a problem. They were excited to begin the fictional piece.“

Teacher Cathy Kelly was enthusiastic over the presentation.

She noted, “He was truly a breath of fresh air. Students see his name on a book and enjoy his books, but to listen to him spin tales in person was a true teachable moment. My students came back and started to write.“

Continuing she noted, “My sixth graders left feeling engaged and ready to try his techniques. That says volumes when it comes to writing and sixth grade. When he mentioned that it was his sixth grade teacher who let him write his own story, I realized I needed to give my students the same chance and that it did not have to be always what I wanted them to write.”

Coville is most famous for his Unicorn Chronicles series, My Teacher is an Alien, Aliens Ate My Homework and Magic Shop series.

He has also written picture books, retellings of William Shakespeare and three children’s plays The Dragonslayers, Out of the Blue and It’s Midnight, Do You Know Where Your Toys Are?

He also co-wrote the young adult novel Armageddon Summer with Jane Yolen.

The visit to Frederick Leighton and Charles E. Riley elementary schools in Oswego was memorable for youngsters from kindergarten through sixth grade.

His stay in Oswego was highlighted with numerous workshops and genuine learning experiences for elementary age youngsters.

Kelly summarized the experience by noting, “Perhaps I may have the next Bruce Coville in my room. That would be cool.”