Students in 5th and 6th grade in Calumet, MI, heard first hand from author Deborah K. Frontiera about the writing process. For the 5th graders, Frontiera described the process for producing one of her picture books--from scribbly first draft to final product. Then she showed them how to design a story of their own with the use of a simple pictorial "story map." She presentef the ptogram in a classroom with two classes in one room, and then repeated the process for two other classes in another room. As a group, students outlined a new adventure for "Eric and the Enchanted Leaf," discussed wht they might have to research for their chosen plot, and began the first few sentences. Frontiera told them they could finish that story on thier own, or write one completely different using the same story map. She also told students they could email her their stories for her to critique. In the photo with this article, Frontiera is writing student suggestions into the map.
For the 6th graders, she presented her program in the "Commons" area of the school to four classes all at once. The program focused on her book, Living on Sisu. The session lasted two hours with a break midway. Frontiera told them some of her "adventures" along the way to completing the book; demonstrated the difference between regular fiction and historical fiction; showed primary and secondary sources and discussed the problem of bias in sources; and asnwered student questions about her writing. After the break, students did a little writing on their own to a "prompt" Frontiera gave them, using all their senses to describe an object "precious" to them. Several students shared their drafts with the group and got suggestions from Frontiera on how to expand thier drafts into a finished piece.
Because research for a new book project in that region has kept Frontiera in Michigan into the start of this school year, students in other schools in the Copper Country area of the Upper Peninsula will hear similar programs before Frontiera returns to her "home base" in Houston, Texas at the beginning of October 2012.