Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SES: Author, Elise Broach, Starts her Westport School Visits

Rae Anne Locke, LMS at SES, was the first of all the elementary LMSs to host author, Elise Broach. The 3 presentations planned for the day provided many opportunities for students to sharpen their creative and critical thinking skills. Of course the SES PTA and the PTAs of each school are instrumental in the planning and financial support of these visits!

Authors are great "primary sources" and although we can bring authors in through a variety of technologies now (Skype, webinars, and others), there are special connections made between the book(s) and the reader when the author is present. The SES library media center on Tuesday, 2/10/09 was filled with children, teachers, parents and the author and it was "charged" with the excitement of a good presidential press conference or an interview with a popular movie star. Some of the "new literacies" components of this visit involved the authors use of the Smartboard to present, the sharing of digital images in BlackBoard and via e-mails, and the communication of the event through this blog.

Elise Broach has written many children's books, and you can find out more about her on her website. With a Ph.D. in history from Yale it is easy to understand her ability to merge historical facts with fiction in powerful mysteries.

The two books that she talked most about were Shakespeare's Secret and Masterpiece. Her presentation style maintained the attention of the two 4th grade classes and the adults present. Students answered and asked many detailed questions about both books, and for this blog entry, I'll focus on Elise Broach's presentation of Shakespeare's Secret.

In Shakespeare's Secret, Hero, a sixth grader, has moved and is just starting a new school. She has a name based on one of the characters in a Shakespeare play, but she is not interested at all in Shakespeare. However, when she finds out that there could be a very valuable diamond somewhere in her new house AND that it could lead to learning more about who the real Shakespeare was, Hero decides to try to solve the mystery.

Shakespeare's Secret was a Nutmeg book this year, and students throughout Westport and Connecticut recently completed voting for their favorite Nutmeg. The favorite Nutmeg book will be announced on Feb. 14th.

Elise Broach presented evidence that convinced many in the audience that William Shakespeare was not the author of "his" plays. Could it have been Queen Elizabeth I, Edward de Vere, Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon or a group of writers? Absolutely.

Over the next two months Elise Broach will bring her love of writing and incredible communication and detective skills to all the elementary schools in Westport.

(Rae Anne Locke, LMS; 5th grade team: Eric Lawrence, Peter von Euler, Nonie Price, Elise Broach, Diane Connolly, and Jason Bedient, student teacher.)
All images from Rae Anne Locke. Click on images for better view

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