Label: Writing

April 2, 2014

Yesterday I Skyped with kindergarteners at Van Meter Elementary School in Iowa. They are researching and writing their first reports, about animals. We had a good talk about how to begin a writing project. I asked them each which animal they were researching and to tell me one thing about that animal.

Their teachers, Lynne Caltrider, Christa McClintock, and district librarian/technology specialist Shannon McClintock Miller, are taking advantage of the many Internet resources available not only to teach these young learners how to research a topic, but also how to use EasyBib.com to create accurate citations in their work.

It was fun to share my process with these students. Whether you are five years old or an experienced writer like me, every writing project starts the same way - researching your topic and making an outline. And it finishes up with rewriting…and rewriting….and rewriting again!

We will be back online together in a few weeks, as the students share their finished projects. I look forward to seeing their work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Shannon McClintock Miller 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 19, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowman looks at the city. He is happy because friends are being created! 

 

The cities and towns around Seattle, Washington received up to 8 inches of snow yesterday, officially making the winter storm one of Seattle’s 10 worst since the early 1940s, when record-keeping began. Schools and businesses are closed again today, as freezing temperatures have turned slushy roads into sheets of ice. I have a feeling there was a shout of joy early this morning from Seattle kids, who don’t often get a snow day. The snowman is happy, indeed!

The caption for the photograph above was written by Will from Ohio. He submitted this lovely piece of writing as part of yesterday’s “Writing Wednesday.” Nice job, Will!

Photo: Sam Jennings

 

 

 


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Weather, Writing, Winter   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 18, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules:

1.    Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.    Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.

Ready? Let’s go! Today, we would like you to read the news story below, and then write a caption for the photograph. We will publish the best caption on the Seymour Science blog.


NEWS STORY: Schools are closed this morning in Seattle and flights into the city are cancelled in anticipation of a second major snowstorm in four days. The city was already hit with a snowstorm on Sunday night, and a potentially historic winter storm is bearing down on the city today.

Seattle is a Pacific coast city that is not used to dealing with heavy snow - their average snowfall is just 5.9 inches per year. By the time today’s storm is finished, the city may have received up to three times that much - in a single week!


Here is the photograph. Write a caption that will capture readers’ attention and draw them into reading more of the story. Your writing could be serious, or it could be funny. Either approach is fine, as long as what you write makes the reader want to know more! Write your caption and submit it by clicking on the "Comments" below. Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Sam Jennings

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Common Core, Weather, Writing, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 7, 2011

Yesterday, as my wife Liz and I were out putting holiday lights on the bushes in front of our house, we came upon this garter snake sunning itself in a bed of dry leaves that were caught in the branches. He was so quiet that I reached forward to see if it was alive. Sure enough, it slithered away, out of sight. I spotted it there again this morning, though. This must feel like a cozy spot!

What is surprising is that normally, in December, this snake would already be down in a den below ground, sleeping together with hundreds of other snakes for the winter. Once the weather cools down to normal winter temperatures, that is what it will do.

OK - WRITERS, ARE YOU READY? Write a few sentences describing the snake on the bush. If you like, you can put yourself (the writer) in my place and describe finding the snake. Use comparisons to describe how the snake looks in amidst the branches. Maybe ask a question that the reader will be thinking about as he or she looks at this photograph of a snake in a tree. Use as many descriptive details as you can to describe what the snake looks like, how it felt to find it in such an unexpected place, or even how you think it was feeling when humans showed up!

Post your writing by clicking on "comments" at the bottom of this blog. I am looking forward to reading what you write!  


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Seymour Photographs, snakes, Common Core, Writing   •  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

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Becoming a writer, Teachers and Librarians, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 16, 2011

Today’s Cool Photo of the Week is a wonderful shot of a "volcano cake," which a parent made when I visited a school several years ago. Isn’t it wonderful?!

The photograph reminds me that I recently received a letter about volcanoes from Andrea G., a fifth grade student at Witch Hazel Elementary School in Oregon. "I love how you wrote the Volcano story.  I love how you added all those different kinds of volcanoes.  I wish you will come to my house and write a story, have an adventure, or go to a restaurant.  It’s very cool that you wrote two hundred books in thirty years.  Do you know a lot about the moon?  How do you know a lot about volcanoes? Thank you for your time."

One of the things that I love about Andrea’s letter is that she called the book my "Volcano story." 

That is exactly how I think about writing my books. Even though they are about real (nonfiction) subjects, I always try to write a story that is fun and exciting to read. It makes me very happy that Andrea sees it that way.

Over the years, both while teaching Science and writing my books, I have indeed come to know a lot about both the moon and about volcanoes. Of course, I studied science in school, both at New York’s Bronx High School of Science and continuing on into college. But it takes more than that. Being interested in science means that you are always learning. There are new discoveries being made all the time, and scientists are constantly testing theories to keep increasing our knowledge and understanding of our planet and the universe in which we live.

So, when I write a book, I have to do research and find out as much as I can, just as you would if you were writing a report for school. For VOLCANOES, I was lucky enough to be able to travel to Hawaii, where I talked to vulcanologists (scientists who specialize in volcanoes), as well as observing and photographing active volcanoes. 

In fact, the subject is so interesting to me that I’ve written TWO different books about volcanoes! I think they are one of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful sights in our natural world, don’t you?

                         

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Volcanoes, Becoming a writer, School Visits, Cool Photo, Kids Write, Writing, Earth Science Books   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 7, 2011

I often hear from college students who are studying to be teachers and doing author studies on my books and my writing style. I am always flattered and honored to learn that future teachers have chosen to study my work and plan to use my books in the classroom. Thank you, if you are one of them!

Here are two letters I have received recently, both of which are quite typical of the kind of questions that often come up. I decided to answer them here on the blog, as a way of sharing the information with other education students.


Dear Seymour Simon,

I am presenting an author study on you and your work for my Literacy in the Elementary Classroom class at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. I am contacting you to ask you for any help that you may be able to give me. I chose to focus my attention on three books in particular, Killer Whales, Cats, and Knights and Castles. I am developing three activities that correlate to each book. These activities focus on either fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. I also need to write a paper on you (biographical information) and your writing style. Anything that you can do to help will be greatly appreciated!

Jordan Mertz, Moravian College

 

Mr. Simon

I am a student at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I am currently enrolled in a literature for children and adolescents class. My instructor has asked all of her students to present to the rest of the class an Author Illustrator Study. I was reading information about you on your web page but I did not see answers to a couple of questions that I would like to include in my study. What are you hobbies and what do you like to do in your spare time?

For this lesson we also have to prepare a snack for the class that pertains to the author. I was wondering what is your favorite snack?

Thanks,

David Honeycutt


To answer Jordan’s question, I would say that although you could use my books to cover any of these topics, I think that nonfiction photo-essays are particularly well-suited to teaching vocabulary and comprehension. In all three of the books that you are focusing on, your students will come across words that are unfamiliar. One technique that you can teach your students is to look for the little word inside the big word. For example, from the books you have chosen, this would apply to the word "purebred" in CATS, the word "blowhole" in KILLER WHALES, and "crossbow" in KNIGHTS AND CASTLES. You can also encourage your readers to make connections by using all the resources on the page - photographs, graphs and other illustrations - to help them decipher unfamiliar words. Use open-ended questions to initiate discussion that will help students expand their comprehension of the text.

Schools around the country are using my Seymour Science blog to encourage and reward student efforts as growing readers and writers. Last April we had an enormously successful month as readers celebrated Earth Day 2011, culminating in the...

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Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Teacher Guides, Teachers and Librarians, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 14, 2011

       

 

 

What a great surprise arrived in the mail this week - three big envelopes full of thank you cards from every 3rd and 4th grader in San Antonio’s Highland Park School. I am absolutely delighted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was lots of excellent artwork, like this drawing by Ashley A. It pictures our entire Solar System, even the Asteroid Belt. This is a very accurate, detailed drawing.

 

 

Many writers asked about how I get the photographs that are in my book. Sarah wondered, "Were you nervous when you took pictures of volcanoes?" Alejandro (who drew the cover of my BIG BUGS book) and Wesley (who drew this scary black widow spider!) both wanted to know if I take all of my own photographs. In fact, Wesley asked, "How do you not die while taking these pictures?"

 

 

 Good questions. I take some of the photographs in my books, but not all of them. Great spider shots like these are taken by photographers who are also arachnologists (that’s what you call a scientist who specializes in spiders). They use a special lens on their camera that allows them to get a very close-up picture of a spider without getting bitten (and without scaring the spider away). I did take many of the volcano photographs myself, but only from safe spots that were nowhere near hot lava!

 

 

 

 

Look at this great drawing of a volcano and the hot lava by Jasmin.

 


And finally, some of you Highland Park writers wanted to know how I feel when I write all of these books. "Do you feel happy or excited?" Analisa sounds as though she worries that it might be a lot of work. "Do you enjoy writing all these books?"

 

The answer is: I LOVE writing my books! It is a lot of work, because I have to research each subject very carefully, be sure that I am getting all the facts right, find great photographs, and work with my editor, who corrects my work just as your teacher does with yours. But the subjects are so interesting that my work is fun every day. And yes, I do feel very happy and excited when a new book comes out, after all that work.

Thank you again to every student, teacher and librarian who took the time to send me all the beautiful cards. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

- Seymour Simon

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Seymour Photographs, Kids Write, Kids comments, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 8, 2011

           

We are snowed in today and the world is blanketed with heavy pillows of pristine snow. It makes me think of a poem by Elinor Wylie, called VELVET SHOES. It begins like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do you think she called the poem Velvet Shoes?

In the stanza above, she describes the snow as “veils of white lace.” What other images or metaphors can you come up with to describe the snow? If you want to write to me with your description of snow, or upload a photograph that you have taken of snow, you might be published in this blog for all the world to see!

You can read Elinor Wylie’s complete poem, Velvet Shoes, by clicking here, or you can find it in your library. Usually the name of the poem you’re looking for is not the name of the book that it is in, so ask your librarian if you’re not sure where to find it.

 

 

 If you’re lucky enough to be

snowed in today, settle in with

a good book and enjoy the

“soundless space” around you.

- Seymour 


 

 

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Writing, Winter, Poetry   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 20, 2010

       

I love to photograph at this time of the year. The sun never rises high in the sky, and even in the middle of the afternoon, the fields are bathed in long, purple shadows.

The Native American people call the December moon the "Long Night Moon." A child might think that the longest night of the year is dark and quiet, both animals and plants resting and still. But even on the longest night, the winter solstice, life goes on all around us.

I’ve been tinkering with an idea for a book called THE LONGEST NIGHT. I like the idea of writing about the simple science behind the poetry and beauty of the longest night of the year. Snow crystals dance in the air and settle slowly down on the ground…starlings and nuthatches feed at the bird feeder in the last bit of twilight…a red fox moves through the moonlit night…the full moon reflects on the snow, making it seem as though all the world glistening.

It might start something like this:

 

What do you think? Is this a book you would like to read with your family?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: New Books, Writing, Winter, Solstice   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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