Measuring School Visit Success

As a visiting author, it's sometimes hard to evaluate how effective you've been in the classroom. Last week, I went to Brookline's Devotion School to lead the eighth graders in a workshop on writing place, encouraging them to use descriptive language and to engage as many of their readers' senses as possible. Today I got a bundle of lovely thank-you notes, including this from one participant:
Thank you so much for coming to our school to teach us about writing a good setting in our stories. As I comfortably sit on this soft couch in my cozy living room warmed by the vapors of boiling pasta water I think of you. I especially liked how in that dimly lit crowded library you gave us examples of your final draft and your first draft. It was also cool how you passed the herbs in their silver containers from person to person to give us an idea of their exotic fragrances. I hope that you decide to come to our large brick school again some day.

The assignment didn't include writing thank-you letters that evoke a sense of place, so this tongue in cheek effort to apply my tips was hugely satisfying.


Jen Robinson said…
That is one of the world's best thank you notes. Thanks for sharing it. I like to think that I would have written something like that note when I was in middle school, if we'd been lucky enough to have visiting authors back then.

You should definitely save the letter, in case the participant becomes a famous writer one day. You'll be able to trace your part in it. Very cool!
Mitali, I appreciate knowing that you pass around tins of spices for people to smell. Scent is one of the most powerful ways of evoking memory.