Label: Teachers And Librarians

December 3, 2012

We received this lovely note and photograph after the recent NCTE Conference in Las Vegas. It was fun to meet some of my Twitter friends there!


It was SO much fun to meet you and your wife at NCTE!  We are looking forward to getting on the Starwalk site with kids this winter and using the books as resources for our students’ inquiries.

Thank you for your gracious welcome and visit.  We’ll be in touch with student work.

Happy Thanksgiving from Idaho!

Angie Young and Jayna Eichelberger 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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October 22, 2012

 

 

I am back at my desk after spending last week visiting schools in Sugar Land, Texas (outside Houston). Mrs. Jeffcoat, the librarian at Walker Station Elementary School, sent this great photo of a student, her teacher and yours truly. I am always pleased and humbled to meet avid readers of my books. Thank you for your hospitality and warm welcome, Sugar Land kids!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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September 14, 2012

This summer, I was very pleased to be invited back to Columbia Teachers College in New York, where I spoke to 1,200 teachers at their Summer Reading Institute.

I’ve spoken in many places and received many lovely introductions. But this introduction, by Cornelius Minor, Staff Developer Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, was so funny, nice and unusual that I wrote to him and asked for permission to reproduce it here.

 

Nothing like being introduced by a great writer AND a great speaker! 


When you receive the job to introduce someone, you check the usual sources… Check to see if there’s an official biography on them… Of if you’re a real rock-n-roll type person and you want all the dirty details, you might check the unofficial biography… You might ask close friends, colleagues, or associates of your subject.

So after doing all of those things, I still found it hard to paint a comprehensive picture of Seymour Simon, because in the world of children’s nonfiction writers, Mr. Simon is a Titan. And I’m talking titan in the classic Greek, "I compete with the gods" sense of the word. Have you read his book on sharks? This guy knows the ocean better than Poseidon. There is nothing I can say about him… No accolade that I can call to mind that he has not already earned. 

  •      The American Assoc for the Advancement of Science Lifetime Achievement Award
  •      The New York State Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature
  •      The Hope S. Dean Award from the Boston Public Library
  •      The Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Award
  •      He has won NUMEROUS Parents Choice Awards

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has him on speed dial. Several of his books have been named outstanding science trade books for children.

He’s even won a Webby Award for his website, SemourSimon.com

So what do you say about the guy who has done it all? Who do you turn to if you want the inside scoop? Well, the answer, my friends, is quite simple. In today’s social media obsessed culture, all you have to do is consult their Twitter feed. After all, I follow Kim Khardasian… I would be really ashamed of my life I did not balance all of that bubble-headedness with someone real. And speaking as a lifelong fan of his work, Mr. Simon is as real as it gets.

So this is is everything I know about Mr. Simon. In 140 characters or less, of course.

August 3, 2012 9:16am—Quote: "I thought summer was a time to relax and listen to the birds; why am I working so hard?"

I can answer that for you, Mr. Simon. It’s in your DNA!  Mr. Simon was a teacher for 20 years!

He has written close to 300 books on everything from weather patterns, to space, to paper airplanes. There are 1200 of us here this week. We could all form book clubs of four people. Each club could take a different Seymour Simon book, and there would be no repeats.—If you put all of his books end to end, you could line a football field—end zone to end zone. ...An entire football field of books that he wrote! There...

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

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August 1, 2012

I received a letter recently from Susan Hall, the Media Specialist at the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics) School in Ohio. Ms. Hall wrote:


 

 

 

As a 5-8th grade school, we are using your book GLOBAL WARMING in a summer Cyber e-reading program, paired with a fiction book titled FIRST LIGHT by Rebecca Stead, which also deals with global warming. Our very curious learners are enthusiastic about your book and have some questions for you!

 

 

 


What a good idea to study this topic through both fictional and nonfiction texts! So, I’ve agreed to answer four questions from Ms. Hall’s summer students here on my blog. I hope that other readers will find this interesting, as well.

Why do so many people think global warming is a government conspiracy? (Andrew)

It is difficult to answer this question because no one really knows why people’s opinions are so diverse. The only thing that I can really answer is why I think that global warming is REAL and NOT a conspiracy. I think global warming is really happening because the overwhelming evidence of countless studies is that global warming does exist and that it is influenced by human activities. Just because a certain percentage of people believe that there is a government conspiracy is not evidence that there is one. For example, some people believe that humans and dinosaurs lived on Earth at the same time despite the fact that all the evidence points to the fact that dinosaurs became extinct tens of millions of years before humans appeared. 

How could we simulate the earth’s atmosphere to study and test the effects of global warming? (Daniel)

Setting up a computer simulation to track complex climate changes is very difficult. Yet the ones that have been done all seem to suggest that global warming is real and happening very quickly. 

What change in energy use would most dramatically slow down global warming? (Camryn)

Becoming more energy efficient is the single most important change we can help to bring about. The largest single source of greenhouse gases is electric power generation. The average home contributes more to global warming that an average car. That’s because much of the energy comes from power plants that burn fossil fuel to make electricity. So the less electricity we use, the more we are helping cut down on the use of fossil fuels. 

Is it possible to reverse global warming? (Miriam)

Many scientists think that it’s possible to slow it down rather than just reversing the process. Either way, it’s to all our advantage if we conserve energy to reduce our use of fossil fuels. 

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Climate Change, Global Warming, Teachers and Librarians, Kids Write   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Common Core   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 3, 2011

 

This week we ran a contest called BUTTERFLY or MOTH? for students in the Niskayuna, NY school district, where I was visiting. We showed two photographs, side by side, and asked you to tell us which was a butterfly and which was a moth…..and give three reasons why. We had 256 students and classes leave comments on the blog with their answers. Wow!

How did we come up with a winner among the many correct answers? The winner was randomly chosen by a true random number generator on the website www.random.org. First we listed all the entries on page after page, in order of when they were received. We had 256 entries, so there were 16 pages of entries with 16 entries on each page. Then we used the random generator, first to pick a page number and then to pick a number on the page. The winning pick was Alexandra L. in Class 4V at Glencliff Elementary School.

Alexandra wrote:

Insect A: moth

 

1. Moths rest with their wings open.

 

2. They do not have a club on their antennae.

 

 

 

Insect B. Butterfly

 

1. They rest with their wings closed.

 

2. They have a little club on their antennae.

 

The class pick was a little different. We put each class entry on a small slip of paper, put all of the class entries into a paper bag and then I put my hand into the bag and picked up one of the slips of paper without looking. The winning slip of paper was Mrs. Robitaille’s 2nd grade class in Hillside Elementary School. They wrote:

Insect A is a moth. We know this because the moth’s wings are dull, the moth’s wings fold back, and the antennae are feathery. Insect B is a butterfly. We know this because its wings are folded up, its wings are colorful, and it has a bulb at the top of its antennae.

Congratulations to both winners. You will receive your signed copy of BUTTERFLIES in the mail this week. More than that, congratulations to everyone who entered the contest! All of your entries have been posted as comments on my blog. Look for your name and your entry on my website, www.seymoursimon.com. Some of you put your comments on stories other than the contest story, so if you don’t see it there, you’ll probably find your comment under another blog story.

Keep in touch by telling me what book of mine you’re reading and what subjects you like the most!

I had so much fun talking to you last week; did you enjoy my speaking? Tell me one thing you remember from what I said!

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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December 1, 2011

A student named Nequira wrote last night with a good question that I often hear when I speak in schools. 

Nequira asked: How do you come up with what you want to write, what pictures you are going to use, and what title you’re going to put on the cover?

          I have loved nature since I was a young child. Although I grew up in the Bronx – a very crowded part of New York City – the natural world was all around me. There is weather in the city, just as there is in the country. You can see the sun, moon and stars from a rooftop in the city. And I explored a vacant lot on my street, which wasn’t exactly a park, but still had birds, earthworms, small plants, and trees. When I grew up I became a science teacher, so it was natural that when I started to write books, I was writing about science and nature topics that interest me.

Then, the hard part starts! Whenever I want to write about a subject, I need to study. I start by looking at research that other people have done. What experiments have they run? What animals have they observed? By studying all the work that others have already done, I learn about the subjects that I write about in my books. 

Readers often ask about how I get the photographs for my books. Sometimes I travel to places myself and take the photographs. I have photographed glaciers in Alaska, volcanoes in Hawaii and wildfires in California. Other times, I arrange to use other people’s photographs. Often these are specialists - like a scientist who has been living in Antarctica and observing penguin behaviors. Someone like that has photographs that I could never get in a single, short trip.

 

In the case of my newest book, BUTTERFLIES, we searched long and hard for the perfect photograph for the cover. We finally found this one from photographer Kha Dang, who also raises butterflies for the Butterfly Magic Exhibit at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

When it is time to decide on the title, I talk with my editor, who works at the company that publishes and sells the book. The editor gives me notes, suggestions and corrections on my writing (much as your teacher would), and also makes the final decision about the title.

Sometimes it is easy to pick a title (like BUTTERFLIES), but sometimes...

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

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November 30, 2011

Wow! After I spoke at the morning assembly at Craig Elementary School here in Niskayuna, NY, Ms. O’Sullivan’s third graders went back to their classroom and started writing. At the end of the day, they presented me with an envelope full of writing and drawings. These were lovely thank you notes, which I appreciated very much, but they were more than that. Each student wrote a full page about animals, space, science, my books and my presentation. What a bunch of good writers!

Here are some of their drawings and samples of their writing.

 

Ben set the scene with a drawing of me in the assembly, holding the little ball that I use to talk about space.

 

 

Dear Mr. Simon,

You were very enthusiastic! I like The Paper Airplane Book best.

- Grace

 

Every word you said sounded so interesting. I want to read a lot of books.

- Cyrus

 

I know how hard it is to write all the time and make sure your facts are right. But I bet you take a lot of time online first before you start writing a book. I also bet you love astronomy!

-      Paige

 

Cat drawing by Andy.

 

Here is a fact about the gray wolf: Their only predator is Man.

- Shae

 

Mars drawing by Ava

 

 

I read more than 30 of your books and want to download your digital books on my iPad.

- Your favorite little book kid, Chris.

 

 

 

Now I know more about nonfiction, and maybe I can make a book myself and it might be nonfiction just like you.

- Abby

 

Fun fact: every man who has ever walked on the Moon was an Eagle Scout.

- Ethan

 

Olivia’s drawing of me flying a paper airplane  

 

I like space books too. I will try looking for the Space Monster book and read it.

- Bhaya

 

And perhaps best of all, the letters were all gathered together in an envelope that included their full return address, right down to the zip code for the universe! Do you know how to write your return address so that it includes your location in the universe? Click here to find out.

 

Earth and Moon by Michael

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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November 23, 2011

It is easy to see that there is a big Seymour Simon school visit week coming up - we have been getting so many comments from new readers on the Seymour Science blog. Students in the Niskayuna, NY schools - this contest is for you!

Two lucky winners are going to receive personally autographed copies of Seymour Simon’s new book, BUTTERFLIES. Here is what you have to do to enter:

1.    Write a comment on this blog post and tell Seymour whether each of these photographs is a butterfly or a moth.

2.    Tell him how you identified it. Give at least two reasons for each insect.

3.    Tell us your name (first name only), school and email address. Be sure to double-check the spelling of your email address, because that is how we will contact you if you are the winner.

4.    Be sure to post your entry by midnight, Friday, December 2. The contest ends then.

Two winners will be chosen randomly from all the correct entries. Older students may enter individually, and we will pick one winner. Students in grades K-2 may enter as a class and work with their teacher to enter the contest; there will be one classroom winner.

What if you don’t know how to tell the difference between a butterfly and a moth? You can find the answer right here on the Seymour Science blog. Look at all the entries under the label "Butterflies." We guarantee you that you will find the answer there!

So, get to work and send us your entries today. Your comments will be invisible until everyone has a chance to enter. Once the contest is over, we will post everyone’s writing.

Good luck!


READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(204) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Contests, insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 18, 2011

Calling all NCTE Attendees! The 2011 convention of the National Council of Teachers of English opens today in Chicago, and I’m in the Windy City for the event. I have three items on my agenda today:

A book signing at Andersons Bookstore (booth 1301) at noon.

A book signing at the HarperCollins booth at 2:30 pm.

And, I’m featured in a panel moderated by extraordinary  Literacy Instruction expert Linda Hoyt at 4pm (Chicago Hilton, Conference Room 4M, 4th Floor). Here’s the description of the panel: Seymour Simon, acclaimed author of 250 nonfiction titles, will offer insights on how he infuses nonfiction craft elements to make complex content accessible for readers. Then, panelists will show how K-8 writers can learn from the master by focusing on reader understanding-integrating sophisticated craft elements as they construct nonfiction writing. 

Please come by and say hello. I’m so excited to meet teachers who are using this website with their students!

And, if you’re not able to attend, you can download the handout that I have prepared for the session from my website. It is chock full of guidelines for writing exciting non-fiction, accompanied by numerous examples from my books.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

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