I paused when I reached the James Gulliver Hancock’s About the Author page of Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff. Instead of the typical paragraph-long blurb about him, his work, and his family, it looked like this:
And that’s when I exclaimed, “This would be a great way to have kids introduce themselves to each other during the first week of the school year!” I loved the portraits of each person in Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff since each one gave me a better sense of what each person is/was like since Hancock featured their quirkiness on every page. I thought this book would be good for teachers to show students in the fall to encourage them to introduce themselves to one another in a more artistic way (and to be accepting of one another’s weird stuff early on!).
Like many teachers, I used to have students complete writing interviews, but that was just for me — their teacher. Then I moved to Celebrity Writer Profiles, which is an idea from Jim Vopat. The Celebrity Writer Profiles were stellar since I posted them in the hallway outside of our classroom. The kids used to look at one another’s profiles before school and during transition times (and when they were dilly-dallying in the hall on their way back from the bathroom).
I think this introducing oneself in an artistic way that acknowledges one’s own weirdness is something that will help to build a supportive writing community (especially in middle and high school when everyone feels different!). Granted, an assignment like this would’ve scared me as a kid since I was never much of an artist. Therefore, if you’re going to try this out in your classroom this fall, I would provide non-artistic students with some basic drawing books (Think: Ed Emberly) to help them get over that hump!
Here are a few more peeks into Hancock’s book. As you’ll notice from these excerpts, this book is appropriate to use as a mentor with students in grades six of higher.
All images in this post come from Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff by James Gulliver Hancock, published by Chronicle Books, 2014.
This giveaway is for a copy of Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff. Many thanks to Princeton Architectural Press for donating a copy for one reader. For a chance to win this copy of Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers, please leave a comment about this post by Friday, August 22nd at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winner, whose name I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Sunday, August 24th. Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win. From there, my contact at Princeton Architectural Press will ship your book out to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
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Thank you to everyone who left a comment on this post. I used a random number generator and pjjmison’s commenter number came up so she’ll receive a copy of Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers. Here’s what she said:
I am a literacy consultant who has spent the past dozen years working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grades K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).