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Visual Writer Introductions

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Princeton Architectural Press is hosting a giveaway of this book. Enter to win a copy by leaving a comment on this post.

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:

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

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.

Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge.

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.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

  • 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.)

Comments are now closed.

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:

Great idea for introducing yourself. I’m trying an assignment with sketchnoting this semester with my higher ed students. They are sketching their multiple intelligence and how it influences them as a classroom teacher. Should be interesting!

 

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

98 thoughts on “Visual Writer Introductions Leave a comment

  1. This looks like a interesting book with the potential of becoming a mentor text. I too am terrified when the art supplies come out during a teacher workshop but I’m learning to let down my guard and just enjoy it. I like the suggestion of the Ed Emberly books. Some of us still need that support!

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  2. I love this! I teach 2nd grade and run a writing club for older kids–for both groups we use this to represent characters in books and represent ourselves when meeting each other as a group for the first time.

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  3. This really goes aling well with your post about interactive writing in my mind. Both encourage non-traditional formats that allow students to feel successful.

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  4. So many of our older kids think they are not artists– whether visual or with words. What a great way to collaborate with the art department (if possible) and to have our students tell about themselves, or rather show about themselves. I often think that because this is a small community, my kids know all about one another, but that is not the case, and this would be a fun way to help them get to know one another. Several spin off writing lessons are coming to mind! Thank you!

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  5. Love this idea! What if you had them represent their “weirdness” by choosing representative images from magazines and such to ease the “artistic jitters” that may be an issue early on?

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  6. I’m entering the world of project based learning and wrote my first project. This book would fit perfectly into my portraits project!

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    • I plan on using this at the beginning of the year as one option for my 7th graders. Another option will be using multi media (recording their verbal intro.), or use an app such as Strip Design, or finally, they can do the “regular” introduction letter to me if they wish.

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  7. What a great idea! Now I have to think about how to create one for myself. I was also thinking of using this idea for a heroes and experts unit we are doing this year. Thanks for the idea and chance to win the book.

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  8. I love giving my students choices, so I definitely see myself providing my sixth graders with this option of self-expression. It has a graffiti feel to it, which opens the door for illustration, yes, but also to a page filled with custom-shaped letters. If a student felt stymied by the thought of illustrating, why not borrow existing images and create a collage with words doodled around the edges. I’m inspired! 🙂

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  9. What a great idea, especially since it feels as if utilizing creativity seems to have fallen by the wayside. Anytime we can offer students an artistic outlet the better!

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  10. Love this like I love the heart map for baiting students to share the good, bad and personal with their peers! Entertaining and inspiring to ignite writing generation territories! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Great idea. I love the comment below about using this in a characterization lesson. Love to win the book but think it might also be on my “must find now” list. 🙂

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  12. I love this idea, and the Celebrity Writer Profiles. I want my kids this year to feel that they have more agency as writers, and using these activities will be a great way to kick that off. Thanks!

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  13. Super idea. I will modify this and try it with my 5/6 students. I like that the person’s name is not immediately obvious in their profile.

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  14. This book would be awesome for my high school special education reading classes. I can’t wait to have my students do this as an introduction next week!

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  15. Great idea for introducing yourself. I’m trying an assignment with sketchnoting this semester with my higher ed students. They are sketching their multiple intelligence and how it influences them as a classroom teacher. Should be interesting!

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  16. This is a great idea! This would be great from K up! Good find, it’d be great to win a copy, but I’m putting this on my my “eventually buy” list. THANKS!

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  17. Using this, you dr finitely will not get cookie cutter responses! I would love to win this! Thanks for your continued work in building writers!

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  18. I love this idea! An easy way to incorporate technology and ease the fears of the artistically-challenged would be to let students create these using Google Drawings. That would call for a valuable lesson on how to find and use copyright-free images, and then off they go! I’m going to put this on my plans for the first couple weeks of school. Thanks!

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  19. What a great way to start a school year and help students understand that writing…REAL writing isn’t just the stuff of tests and formal research papers. It’s an opportunity to show them that writing can be and look like many things!!!

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  20. Thanks for sharing this clever means of a bio. I like the idea of having kids do something artistic like this to introduce themselves at the beginning of the year. It could also be used later in the year for research projects, biographies and otherwise. I am especially fond of including the “weird” stuff and maybe other “stuff” that’s less conventional. Curious to learn more about this book.

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  21. This looks like an engaging way to get to know one’s students and to help them get to know one another. I’m sharing this idea with several of my friends who are middle school teachers.

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  22. So wonderful! I’m always looking for new creative ideas for my classroom, and this has been added to my teaching repertoire. 🙂 Thank you!

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  23. I can’t wait to try this out in my classroom with fourth graders. I’m always looking for ways to get students communicating with one another on a deeper level. Thank you!

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  24. I always love books that open up possibilities that we had not yet thought of. I love the pages that you shared and how much information it shared about the people featured in a different way. I am also thinking about how this could be an alternative to a heart map.

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  25. Great mentor blogger and exciting mentor text-what a wonderful combination! How about differentiating for those of us who are challenged by drawing with mixed media? Some magazine clippings, some clip art, some whatever the creative minds in my class devise for their celebrity writers’ profiles.
    Oh, this is going to be a grand year! Thank you!

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  26. Our students need encouragement and permission to just be themselves! I always make a point of letting them see my quirks and craziness. This is a great book to let students see how others, who are famous, have navigated their lives.

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  27. This is a great text to use to inspire writing. In the beginning of the new school year, you are getting to know your students abilities, strengths, and learning styles. I am sure you will find early on who are the artist in the class.
    It is a given that students must put pencil to paper, but why not give them another way to express themselves.

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  28. I love hearing about creative ways for my students to express themselves and share their writing lives. Last year, my students creating a Reading Life posters for their lockers, and I am excited to add your idea for hallway display this fall. Thanks!

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  29. I love this idea of getting the kids to illustrate themselves as an introductory activity. I also see many ideas for writing pieces coming from this activity.

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  30. I like the purposeful act of having students create this visual, not only to get to know each other as writers, but to get to know each other as a member of a learning community. I could see this being used as a “spark” for future writing topics, too.

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  31. Love the idea of using this as a mentor text for students. As a secondary educator, I think it’s important that we look at all the means in which writers express ideas, including sketching, doodling, and mapping! Kicking off the year with this suggestion builds community as well as sets the tone for a writing community. Offering various ways to express oneself only opens the door for more students to discover an underlying passion that can be fueled!

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