Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Author Melissa Forney visits with Sand Pine Elementary students, teachers

Author Melissa Forney visited Sand Pine Elementary in Wesley Chapel last week and talked to students and teachers.

JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times

Author Melissa Forney visited Sand Pine Elementary in Wesley Chapel last week and talked to students and teachers.

WESLEY CHAPEL — When Sand Pine Elementary teachers wanted to find ways to improve their writing instruction, they turned to Melissa Forney.

Based in Volusia County, Forney writes novels that schools can use as starting points for getting students interested in reading and writing. She also offers strategies teachers can use to make writing fun. She talked with the St. Petersburg Times about her advice while visiting Sand Pine last week.

I am interested in why you come to schools like Sand Pine and talk to students about writing.

I love the philosophies of John Dewey, that education should be hands-on. And we've gotten so far away from that with testing. And as a child I was a big reader and I found I just lost myself in books. And I wanted to re-create that experience for kids to have outdoor books that at least mentally took them outdoors. No technology. Everything about climbing trees and swimming in brooks and learning about the outdoor fun stuff. And now I love going to schools that are actually implementing things where kids are on their bellies shooting marbles, or having a slingshot contest, that kind of thing. I just think this makes education memorable for them.

Were you surprised to see how many children are into your books and the things that you are doing?

I am surprised and of course extremely gratified. When I went to graduate school to become an author for children, the philosophy was that you wrote for yourself. But I never adhered to that. I always think about the children who will read my books as I'm writing them. The book might be plotted ahead of time. But as I'm writing I might think, 'If I did this, the kids will love it.' Or, 'If I did this twist, kids would be sad but we would get through it.' So I do have them in mind when I write. So when I see that kids are excited about it, of course I'm thrilled.

How did you decide to come here [to Wesley Chapel]? Do you just tour Florida?

We train teachers in the area on writing, and we do assemblies for kids and we help prepare kids, oddly enough, for writing testing. But the reason I come to some schools like this — I'm just coming on my own time and I'm not getting paid for this — is because I want to support teachers who will teach it like this.

If you had one thing that teachers should take away from your lessons, to make kids better writers and enjoy writing more, what would it be?

Do something memorable. We have kids 180 days a year. How many of those days do you remember? Not many. So what kind of an impact do we have long-range? Do something memorable. I was with a school just a few days ago who had a Teddy Bodain whoop-de-do outdoors. They had men frying venison and quail. They had kids dancing to banjo and guitar music. Like they've done here. That makes education memorable. Kids will remember it, not just because I wrote it, but because we did something cool, we learned about another era that's based on Florida history.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at solochek@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Author Melissa Forney visits with Sand Pine Elementary students, teachers 03/29/09 [Last modified: Sunday, March 29, 2009 9:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Coming to Netflix in July: 'Rogue One,' 'E.T.,' 'Castlevania' and more

    Blogs

    Just when I think Netflix has outdone itself with new releases and originals, it surprises me with another month of superb offerings coming to the streaming site.

    Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  2. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe

    Tennis

    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  3. Watch: Provocateur targets CNN producer with hidden camera video

    National

    NEW YORK —A conservative provocateur posted a video Tuesday of a man identified as a CNN producer commenting on his network's coverage of President Donald Trump and connections to Russia.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Protesters demand Confederate statue be moved from old Hillsborough courthouse

    News

    TAMPA – Politicians, clergy and community leaders demanded Tuesday that the Hillsborough County commission reverse course and remove a Confederate monument from the old county courthouse.

    (From left) Mike Reed, Kristen Perry and Dayna Lazarus hold protest signs Tuesday in front of a Confederate monument on the grounds of Hillsborough County's old courthouse. Protesters want the statue removed. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   Times]
  5. Man charged with threatening Florida lawmaker on Facebook

    Blogs

    From The Associated Press:

    MIAMI — A Florida man has been charged with threatening to kill a state legislator in a Facebook post. 

    This booking photo released by the Miami-Dade Police Department shows Steve St. Felix, who has been charged with threatening to kill Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in a Facebook post.