Alden Library will soon be hosting books by a new group of authors: students at West Elementary. Leslie Jones and student teacher Samantha Brigotti’s fifth grade students at the Athens school have been hard at work for the past five weeks studying the art of historical fiction books and eventually authoring their own stories. Using a workshop method developed by Lucy Calkins at the Teachers’ College at Columbia University, the students have fully immersed themselves in historical fiction literature and have learned the components of strong writing.
Each child in the two classes is writing their own historical fiction story, which will be bound together. The final product will bedisplayed at the library during finals week. Jones says, “I have been so impressed with the work that the students and Ms. Brigotti have put into writing these historical fiction stories. I think it is evident that these fifth graders have been exposed to a rigorous, richly literate reading and writing workshop. They are readers, writers and most importantly, thinkers.” Ms. Brigotti is also a student employee at the Reference Desk at Alden Library.
The students at West Elementary have been researching their historical time periods, developing plots and writing drafts of their own. Jackson, a fifth grader at West, says “I’m in love with my story about the Great Depression and segregation. It’s hard to break your heart and write at the same time, but that’s exactly what I’m doing.” Jackson’s classmate Cami says, “I love my story because it is Athens history and some really cool events happened. I am also learning a lot about the Berry Hotel too.”
The children will be putting their historical fiction classroom books on display in Alden Library from March 14-16 on the 4th floor of the library. The display will include photos of the children creating their books and a collection of historical fiction children’s books that inspired them during their writing process. The finished classroom book will be available for library patrons to browse and enjoy.
Photo credit: The chosen covers for the books, designed by students from the 5th grade classes. Provided by Samantha Brigotti.