January 12, 2012



Educators who are considering inviting Seymour Simon to speak in their school district may be interested in this note that we received from elementary school media specialist Donna McAndrews following his weeklong visit to schools in Niskayuna, New York.

Last week Seymour Simon visited our elementary school to speak about his science writing.  Our students were thrilled to meet him, and I was so proud of their enthusiasm and intelligence during his presentations. 

To prepare the students for this visit, we spent a few weeks looking at as many of his books as we could.   The students noticed the story-quality of Seymour’s books, and they found that learning a new science concept was easier when Seymour made a comparison to something they already knew.  So much like their own classroom teachers would do! 

In one fourth grade class we needed a model for writing our nonfiction paragraphs on the Iroquois.   Even though our subject was not science-related, each student was able to find a page in one of Seymour’s books that illustrated a good nonfiction paragraph with an introductory sentence and supporting examples, as well as other details like using comparisons to explain new concepts.  Not only did these students write really solid paragraphs, but they checked out the books they used because they wanted to read more!

In addition to looking at the books, all of our third, fourth and fifth grade classes explored the Seymour Science Blog on the website.  They had a blast learning about science topics from each blog post.  We asked them to respond by posting a thoughtful comment that included something they learned from the post as well as something they wonder about after reading that blog.  This was a really good first step in learning how to use blogs in an educational setting to further your own learning, not just to react to something some else posts. 

More excitement was generated when Seymour and Liz created the "Butterfly or Moth?" contest for our students.  Classes in grades K - 2 and individual students in grades 3 - 5 all participated in this endeavor!  Again, the expectation was that their online comments should reflect their learning and should be clear and easy-to-understand.  The students worked hard to research the differences between moths and butterflies, and they articulated their answers clearly in their blog comments.  I think they would have worked hard even if there wasn’t a prize at the end.  They really enjoy learning something new and sharing what they know.  It’s as simple as that!

I am hopeful that in the near future we will find a way to add Seymour’s many digital books to our library’s catalog so our students can borrow them for use on their own devices. 

Thanks, Seymour, for bringing science and writing to life for our Niskayuna students!

Thank you, Donna, for your very kind words. Your students were indeed well-prepared for Seymour’s visit, and when educators like you and your colleagues do advance preparation, it is always a more successful experience for both the children and the author!

When Seymour Simon visits a school district we try to maximize the payoff for the students by showcasing their research, writing and artwork on SeymourSimon.com. These interactions are designed to create an opportunity for each student to have a personal, relevant and satisfying experience reading, analyzing and writing nonfiction text (very important in these early days of implementing the Common Core Standards).  

We encourage educators who use this site to give us feedback on how you are using the materials we create with your students, and in particular, how we can do it better. We love to hear from you! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

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