Feb 28 2011

Jack Gantos Visit

Published by at 11:16 AM under Writer's Workshop

Zap, Zap, Zap! Running around his house naked, putting a cockroach into his sleeping sister’s mouth…these are just some of the childhood stories author Jack Gantos deliciously told to us at our assembly this morning.

If you’ve never heard of Jack Gantos, you may be familiar with some of his books such as the Rotten Ralph series, Joey Pigza series or the Jack Henry series.

He not only is an award-winning author, but also a hilarious speaker! The audience laughed out loud with Mr. Gantos’ descriptive, animated stories.

But best of all, Mr. Gantos was teaching us about how we can be the best writers we can be. He brought along his journals from when he was an elementary student. He definitely loved to write! What really resonated with me and what was nice to hear Mr. Gantos talk about was that most of his ideas for his writing comes from himself and his life experiences! We are currently writing Realistic Fiction stories and this was a fantastic reminder of how we can use our own life’s stories to create good pieces of writing. Sometimes the best writing comes from not much farther than our own backyard.

He told us that sometimes it is daunting and scary getting your journal for the first time because there are all those blank pages staring at you! One strategy Jack Gantos uses is to draw a map of your house and the surrounding area. I’ve included a picture below of the map Mr. Gantos used in his presentation. He said to add lots of details to it…the more the better! So many stories can emerge from this map strategy.

He also spoke heavily about the writing process and the structure of our writing.He said there were 7 parts to every story…here they are below:

1. Characters

2. Setting

3. Problems/Situation

4. Action/Plot

5. Crisis

6. Resolution/Solve the Problem

7. Physical and Emotional Ending

I really liked how he mentioned several times that there were 2 parts to an ending…the physical ending and then (often the part that is missing in student writing)…the EMOTIONAL ENDING.

Finally, the drafting phase was mentioned several times. Mr. Gantos said that he sometimes does 30-40 drafts of a story!! (We sometimes complain when we have to do 2!).  We have a lot to learn from Jack Gantos and I know I took away a lot from seeing him today.

Check out the pictures below from the assembly. I’ll try to snap a few more of him signing our books!

We love Jack!

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