Archive | January, 2013

More Student Artwork

26 Jan
Another Super Creative Expertly Drawn Student Rendition of Jack of the Tarantulas and Cigarettes from The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach, by C.F. at R.B. Russell

Another Super Creative Expertly Drawn Student Rendition of Jack of the Tarantulas and Cigarettes from The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach, by C.F. at R.B. Russell High School, Wpg., MB., Canada–Jack is a figure of Munro’s shadow self. In the anti-bullying study unit, students are empowered to use their terrific imaginations and skills to create such impressive visualizations of Munro’s wild shadow archetype–Jack! Note the channel changer that Jack uses to point at Munro to get him to change–for the worst. As viewers can see, Jack has a fairly bad smoking habit (as does his pet tarantula), not unlike Munro’s buddy Al who is determined to turn all his good friends into smokestacks (much to Munro’s chagrin).

The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach Novel Study and Anti-Bullying Guide in Action: Student Art and Letters

24 Jan
Jack of the Tarantulas and Cigarettes, by student C.J. at R.B. Russell High School

Jack of the Tarantulas and Cigarettes, by student C.J. at R.B. Russell High School

Dear Margaret Shaw Mackinnon,

Hello. I am R. F. from Scott Bateman Middle School. And I liked it when you came and visited and we got to become a character and [I got to] do the sheet on Al. I had fun reading the book.

I like the book because it was good and it taught me to not be future bully. I also liked when you came and visited us because we got to see the person that wrote the book. And [you] read to us in person. It was cool. I also liked the part when the kids all became friends and they didn’t bully each other. And the part where Munro met up with Jack and he was walking after him and Munro was trying to run away.

I feel like I liked the book because overall it is about trying to stop bullying. And to just be yourself and if [someone is] a friend to you, then don’t let someone else tell you they are not cool.

From R.F.

December 11, 2012

Dear R. F.,
Thank you for your wonderful letter! I was so pleased to know that you liked doing the character sheet on Al. He is a really good character to study, and I’m glad that you had the chance to get to know a character in depth.

You made me very happy when you told me that my book taught you not to be a future bully. The more we understand about bullying, the better our world will be! We can all be creative, not destructive, even if it’s difficult at times.

I like meeting authors who write books too! I know exactly what you mean about that! I’m so pleased that your class finished the whole book and that you liked the fact that the kids in the book stopped bullying and became friends. I had fun writing the part where Munro dreams that Jack is chasing him, so I’m glad you liked that part.

I felt that it was very special that you understood that we need to stop bullying, and to stand up for our friends.

Best wishes,
Margaret Shaw-MacKinnon

The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach Novel Study and Anti-Bullying Guide in Action: Enthusiastic Letters from Students with Author Responses

23 Jan
Short-Listed for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

Short-Listed for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award

In the next series of blog entries, my readers can peruse these lively grade six student letters I received from students in the classroom of teacher Nick Popiel after my return from teaching my anti-bullying unit in The Pas, MB, Canada.I will share these letters over the next couple of weeks to give teachers the idea of just how deep is the consciousness-raising impact of my anti-bullying novel study on students.

Also, the student responses are adorable, uncensored, serious-minded, and dedicated to understanding bullying. I smile and am moved when I read these letters, and I hope you’ll enjoy them too! (Of course, names have been changed to simple letters.)

November 19, 2012

Dear Margaret Shaw-Mackinnon

Hello and my name is D. and I read your book The Beech Nut at The Big Water Beach. I thought your book was awesome! By the way, I go to Scott Bateman Middle School and [am] in Mr. Popiel’s class and I love your book.

So my favorite character in the book is Alison only because I don’t think that she’s ugly. Maybe she actually is fattish in the story. My favorite part of the book is [near] the end [and] it was the part when Munro kissed Alison. I loved when you came for a visit to our classroom and [gave] my class a lesson on art and stuff.

I hope that you see this or my letter to you! So again, this is D. S. from Scott Batman Middle School saying I love your book!
Sincerely,
D. S.

Dear D. S.,

Thank you so much for your email regarding The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach! You are very kind to let me know that you thought the book was awesome and that you loved the book.

I agree with you that Alison isn’t ugly, even if she is a little overweight. I also agree that it’s a special part in the book when Munro and Alison kiss. They like each other for all the right reasons, because they really care about so many of the same things, and about each other.

I am pleased that you enjoyed the lessons on art and other things. Authors find it just wonderful to know that readers love their books, so thank you, D. S., for making my day! Happy Holidays!

Sincerely,
Margaret Shaw-MacKinnon

The Transformative Potential of Literature

11 Jan
Clearwater Lake in the morning

Clearwater Lake in the morning

This is the view I woke up to every day that I stayed in the little cottage on Clearwater Lake. Then, I drove twenty-five minutes through beautiful countryside to the school in order to teach one-hundred and twenty-four grade six students. Over the course of the two weeks of my visit, we read the novel, The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach, and students engaged in the novel study and the various activities geared toward raising student consciousness of the bullying scenario.

The beauty of literature is that we immerse into what John Gardner calls “the fictional dream,” and in that state, we learn and grow in insight and we are ultimately transformed by the experience. Students who read The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach tell me that they love the novel. They empathize with the bullied main character, Munro, who is a loveable, humorous, complicated, and quirky kid. They see that his peer group—like their own peer groups—is made up of kids who varyingly take on bully, bullied, and bystander roles.

Reading The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach with Students

Reading The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach with Students

As the novel study unfolds, students integrate an understanding of the fictional peer group, and they acquire insight into destructive behaviors.

Consciousness is our only hope in combating the human shadow, and this package has allowed numerous classrooms to raise consciousness of the bullying scenario.

A Wall of Bullying Scenario Cartoons by Students

10 Jan
Students Anti-Bullying Cartoons at Scott Bateman Middle School in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada

Students’ Bullying Scenario Cartoons at Scott Bateman Middle School in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada

Students Visualize the Bullying Scenario

10 Jan

Munro is bullied by Roland

Munro is bullied by Roland

The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach Novel Study and Anti-Bullying Guide begins with a reading of the first chapter of the novel.

In this chapter, the main character, Munro McLean, a twelve year old boy, goes over three memories that he calls Bad Movie Number One, Two, and Three. In Bad Movie Number One, Munro is bullied by the Grade Five bully, Roland.

To start students’ immersions into the anti-bullying program, I draw a cartoon on the board of Munro being tossed around by Roland. In this photo, you can see the cartoon that I draw for students on the board that they can follow when they create their own illustrations of this scene. (This illustration is included in the Anti-Bullying Package for teachers). Some of the inventive titles students have thought up for this cartoon are: Roland’s Play Day; The Bully-Go-Round, Bully Ball; The Circle of the Day.

When students create their own drawings of Munro being thrown around by Roland while other class members laugh, they visualize and make concrete for themselves the terms bully, bullied, and bystander. Furthermore, many students have been present in such bullying scenarios, where the bully leads and others follow with varying degrees of involvement, from that of an active participant to just not wanting to get involved.

In the next blog entry, you can see what the students produced!

Beginning of series on teaching The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach Novel Study and Anti-Bullying Guide

10 Jan
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Light Dancing on Shoreline Water

Clearwater Lake: Third Clearest Cleanest Lake in the World

Clearwater Lake: Third Clearest Cleanest Lake in the World

Happy New Year, readers! I wish you a creative, transformative 2013!

In my next series of blogs, I will give you a sense of what can be done with The Beech Nut of Big Water Beach Novel Study and Anti-Bullying Guide that I have made available through my Teachers Pay Teachers store. As an arts educator who travels to different schools throughout the province of Manitoba, Canada, sometimes far north, my vision necessarily involves not only my teaching experiences, but my experiences working with great teachers in unique and often magnificently picturesque settings.

The images, musings, and student letters in this series are all from my residency with the Artists in the Schools Program at Scott Bateman Middle School in the Pas, Manitoba, Canada.

While I was there, I stayed at a cottage on Clearwater Lake, on the property of my wonderful host and hostess, guidance counsellor, Barb McLeod and her husband, Tim Williams. Clearwater Lake is the third clearest, cleanest lake in the world and is ethereally beautiful. Again, this blog series will not only show the results of the teaching experience, but will also share with you what I saw while I was there. I begin by showing you just how clear is Clearwater Lake!