More than 100 third-grade students from Trace Crossings Elementary School visited Samford University April 4 to participate in the Young Authors Conference. The event was hosted by teacher education students from Samford in partnership with education students from Birmingham’s Miles College.
Trace Crossings’ students were split into groups and traveled to three rooms. Each room held a discussion and activity themed to a different book that highlighted diversity.
In the room themed Bud, Not Buddy, a book that focuses on an African American boy, students discussed the book and used pencils to draw on scratch-off paper what they would pack if they were in a situation like the character in the book. “I would pack pictures of my family and my iPad,” said one student, “I would bring food and clothes,” said another.
A second room’s theme was Rules, a book that focuses on a child with special needs. In this room, students discussed the importance of inclusion and respect. In the book, the main character uses rules to help her friend with special needs. Students then created door hangers with rules that might help them interact with those around them.
The last room focused on Esperanza Rising, a book that has a Hispanic girl as the main character. Students used many colors of tissue paper to make a flower and then drew self-portraits that showed their differences and similarities. They talked about how bringing together things that make us different make something beautiful, just like the flower they created.
Students then participated in a writing workshop with guest storyteller and author Rick Shelton. Shelton shared an ordinary event that happened in his life and explained how he used an everyday occurrence to develop an exciting adventure story. During Shelton’s workshop, Samford student teacher Sally Stunkel tweeted “Everyone in this room has a story to tell!”
Shelton encouraged all of the students to think of things that have happened in their lives that they could write about. He told them that anyone can be a writer.
“After Mr. Shelton’s presentation each year at the Young Authors Conference, my students cannot wait to get back to school and write!” said a Trace Crossings teacher.
The conference honors John and Frances Carter, who both taught in Orlean Beeson School of Education. Over the years, the Carters have continued to support the school’s programs through scholarships and by sponsoring the conference. Frances Carter attended this year’s event with her daughter, Nell Branum. The pair moved from room to room, visiting and speaking with young students and student teachers.
Sara Roman is marketing and communication coordinator for Orlean Beeson School of Education.