Chicago, IL USA
SCHOOL VISITS: K - 8
Barb loves school visits and true stories best! Her interactive, multimedia presentations introduce students to a writer's life from idea through drafting, editing and publishing. Barb's focus on biography/nonfiction allows her to share primary research stories and artifacts with students, including items as diverse as: giant sequoia seeds, tools to compare the height of trees, steps in the book publishing process, old photographs, racing costumes, paint boxes and more. Her favorite presentations focus students on improving their writing and following their dreams.
Year(s) of participation: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
A4ED school visit photos & blurbs:
2016 at FREMONT ELEMENTARY in Mundelein, IL USA
BARB CONNECTS WITH STUDENTS AT FREMONT ELEMENTARY
This was my fifth year as an Author for Earth Day, so happy anniversary to us! The staff and students at Fremont Elementary welcomed me with open arms (I student taught there once upon a time, so it was like homecoming!)
I had a whole week of visits with the preschool, kindergarten, first and second grades. The six second grade classes participated in Authors for Earth Day around a unit they did on the national parks and my book The Camping Trip that Changed America. The halls were full of camping projects, reports on the sequoia trees and letters to John Muir. That many classes means 12 different students were brave enough to dress up as either popular Theodore Roosevelt or nature's champion, John Muir. It also means that hundreds of students learned about and then voted on five different conservation organizations.
The Fremont students kept my A4ED donation close to home, and a check was sent to the Forest Preserve District of Lake County Illinois, the organization that best "saves the trees" closest to their school.
Thanks to Fremont Elementary, it's hardworking staff and students and A4ED, can't wait for year six!
2015 at BUTTERFIELD SCHOOL in Libertyville, IL USA
BARB GIVES BACK AT BUTTERFIELD
After 4 years as an A4ED author, I thought students couldn't surprise me, but the 4th and 5th graders managed to do just that on April 8th! The library was filled with work on the environment, including a big GREEN banner that said "Plant a Seed of Knowledge and it Will Grow!" which was surrounded by flower shapes where children wrote what they learned from The Camping Trip that Changed America as well as my other books.
In the presentations, two brave volunteers dressed up as Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir and treated us to their versions of the hearty, boisterous President and the retiring, nature loving Muir. All the 4th and the 5th graders participated in researching the 5 environmental groups I chose and the teachers did a great job compiling the vote, which they made into a pie chart broken down by grade level! The clear winner at 68% was The Sierra Club, the organization that John Muir founded in 1892. You can see how much fun we had in these pictures and the "big check" was sent off the next day!
Can't wait for next year, A4ED is the best!
2014 at ROBERT FROST ELEMENTARY in Mount Prospect, IL USA
BARB EMPOWERS YOUNG READERS AT ROBERT FROST
WOW! The third year participating in Authors for Earth Day was the best yet! The staff and students at Robert Frost Elementary put out welcome banners throughout the school. Each grade level of students that I saw in my presentations knew more and more about the national parks until the 5th graders were educating me! We all talked about writing, getting inspiration from nature and laughed as students dressed up as John Muir in long white beards and Theodore Roosevelt complete with stick on mustaches! The best part of the day was a lunch with students where I got to spend an hour of one on one time with a small group of articulate, passionate students who love reading and writing. They asked such perceptive questions, like what is the hardest part of writing? (the revisions) and what would you be if you weren't a writer? (secretary of state—ha, I wouldn't get hired, but I'd save some trees!) The classes voted to send our donation to The Sierra Club, the long standing environmental organization started by John Muir in 1892! I've heard some Sierra Club "thank yous" are on their way to the school right now. Anyhow, thanks to Robert Frost Elementary for another great Authors For Earth Day visit! Where will I be next year? I can't wait to find out!
2013 at JOHN MUIR ELEMENTARY in Madison, Wisconsin USA (the town where Muir went to school!)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN MUIR...HAPPY EARTH DAY!
John Muir, the "father of our national parks" grew up in Wisconsin and attended college in Madison, so it isn't too surprising that there is an elementary school in that city named for him. However, I didn't expect that the school would learn about my book The Camping Trip that Changed America, John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt and Our National Parks and invite me to celebrate John Muir's 175th Birthday with them. Plus, the visit was scheduled for Earth Day, April 22nd (Muir's birthday is April 21st.) When I approached the school about participating in Author's for Earth Day, there was one response, "Perfect."
Almost 300 2nd through 5th graders, spent two sessions with me in their gym learning about using the five senses to explore nature and to write stories. With a variety of multimedia, we learned about my trip to Yosemite and spent hands-on time learning about giant sequoias, their seeds and cones. We also had two students dress up and play Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir (2 of the top 10 environmentalists of all time!) As both Muir and Roosevelt wound up being represented by young women, the laughter was infectious (you haven't lived 'til you've seen a giggling 2nd grade girl wearing a long, scruffy white beard and trying to act like John Muir, trust me.) Later, I met in the media center with a smaller group of talented writers who used a series of objects to make up a story aloud, learn about the shapes of stories and how to build them.
The students cheered when I announced that Save America's Forests was the hands down winner in the school's vote tally for A4ED. It seemed every student I spoke with voted for my speaking fee to be sent to support that organization. When I asked why that group stood out, one boy said, "Save the trees! That's what we learned from your book. Save America's Forests, it's right in the title!"
After the A4ED announcement, we ended our time together with an energetic singing of Happy Birthday to John Muir (complete with cha-cha-chas and clapping.) I'm sure Muir would have loved the birthday wishes and would be proud that his legacy of caring for the environment continues on through these young students.
My second year participating in Author's for Earth Day was a blessing and a blast. Can't wait for next year!
2012 at OAK GROVE SCHOOL, Green Oaks, Illinois USA
BARB SPEAKS FOR THE TREES AT OAK GROVE
The fourth graders at Oak Grove School chatted about the holiday weekend and their environment projects as they filled the library media center. They'd just finished a unit on the U.S. National Parks and were excited to learn about the giant sequoia trees in Yosemite. We compared giant sequoia seed cones, measured the heights of different trees with a series of long ropes and learned that all the students and teachers in the school could fit inside a giant sequoia, with plenty of room to spare. Oh, and we talked about writing too.
When it was announced that The National Park Foundation was the clear winner in our vote tally, the students cheered, excited to learn that the A4ED donation would support an organization that helps the parks they now know so well. A reporter was on hand to take pictures of the students as we took a virtual tour of the sights and sounds of our national parks.
I was lucky enough to visit Yosemite while researching The Camping Trip that Changed America and wanted to spread the word about helping our wilderness through A4ED. When asked why it's important to save the giant sequoias, one boy said, "Because a tree like that is special." The Oak Grove students' excitement and enthusiasm for learning about our country's wild land, its plants and animals was pretty special also.
See a newspaper clip about Barb's A4ED visit.