Last Thursday I went to Myrtle Philips Community School up in Whistler to do a workshop at a literacy day. My job was to entertain the grades 7-10, while in the adjoining room Ellen Schwartz worked with the younger students.

The day was beautiful. We had mostly sunny skies with a light, cool breeze. There was not a trace of rain. The drive up on the Sea to Sky Highway is spectacular, with views of the ocean and islands. The driving itself left something to be desired, with all of the construction to prepare for the 2010 Olympics. (OOps…am I allowed to use the word “olympics” without the committee’s permission?)

At the school, I did what I normally do. I used power point to explain my journey from reader to writer, and then I took the students through a creative process starting with maps. In teams of 4-5, they each drew their own maps and created their own worlds. I took some photos of the pieces of art, just so you can see how different each group saw their environment.

After the students created their worlds, I then had each of them explain as a group how their world worked. As they did so, you could see the different stories as they developed. They would explain what kind of environment they had – such as the world that was made of ice. (The one directly above this paragraph.) The people who lived in this world had to get around on skates!

In the end, most students found it easier to write from a map than they would have if they had just been given a block of time. It was a meeting of the left brain and the right brain, after a good session of drawing and colouring combined with imagination and ingenuity! Judging from their responses after, I’d say they had a fun time while learning a new way to write.

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