Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The one where Debbie was truly amazed....

First of all.....can we hear an AMEN from the congregation today?!?!? The sun came out....and it stayed out pretty much all day long!!!!! The breeze was cool....it wasn't too humid....it was wonderful!!! And a really good day to be doing the "Mt. Fuji" of laundry I have in my bathroom, but....no...I had to go to class...that's okay....we've got other clothes to wear!! (See...I'm really working on that "positive" attitude thing again!!!)



Are you familiar with this book?
A couple of years ago, one of my classes and I decided that we needed a bit more of a challenge. In our two hour class, there was plenty of time to do conversation and grammar type stuff plus...something else. In my search for "something else", I put to them the challenge of possibly reading a book. "**GASP** What?? You mean a whole book? " Obviously, they wanted a challenge....but, Debbie-sensei, an easy one, please!!

I did some research....knowing the levels of my students and came up with a list of books that were for 4th-5th-6th Grade elementary school readers.

I had remembered Sarah, Plain and Tall , ordered a copy and found that, even though the vocabulary of the book was going to be a bit of a challenge, I thought they could handle it.

And....a challenge it was. If you're not familiar with the book, it is the story of Sarah, a single woman from Maine in, maybe, the late 1800's. She answers an ad in a newspaper written by a man who lives on the plains for a wife and mother for his two children. The story is told by the oldest child, Anna, written many times, in diary-form.

The vocabulary was difficult. Plants and birds, among other things, that are not here....had me in Google Images most evenings searching for pictures to use as visual aids. Having oldER Japanese students understand the idea of "flat", in the first place, was challenging for me.

Thank goodness, two of the ladies in the class had actually gone with me to Colorado one summer for a visit and they shared with the other students what "nothing" and "can see forever" and "a true horizon" really meant.

Anyway....we made it through the first book....and as a treat, I ordered this...for them to watch.

The movie followed the book so closely, one lady was actually watching, with the book upon her lap and turning pages, following along as the story progressed. Glenn Close and Christopher Walken were the stars of the Hallmark produced movie...and it was wonderful. Needless to say that when I asked my students if they wanted to read the next book....and the next ones...They were very excited to do just that. There are 5 books in the series...and we have read them all!! It's was amazing for my students to realize that the books were. getting. easier. as we kept reading. Funny how that happens, huh!? Plus...having the movies for the first 3 books....made it extra special when we finished reading.


Anyway....I had been thinking that I really wanted the author to know how much my 23 students have enjoyed reading her stories. I did a quick search on the Internet and found so much information about her.....and then....just on a whim....knowing the name of the town she lived in...I searched for her address in hopes I could send her a letter directly and not have to go through a third party.


What I found was not only her address....but also...a phone number. Last night....I called. She answered. I forgot what my own name was.


On the other end of the line was THE author of the books. A Newberry Winner, for crying out loud. And SHE answered the phone!!!!!! Yes, I know...but of course she would answer the phone...it was ringing....but work with me and my excitement for a minute, okay??!!

After I stammered through who I was, I double-checked to make sure she was, in fact, Patricia MacLachlan, the author and NOT Patricia MacLachlan, the garbage collector (or someone else who just happened to have to same name!!). Yes, it was her. She was absolutely lovely....and thought it quite fun that someone would call her from Japan!!! She graciously agreed to answer any and all of my students' questions...which I will send to her in an e-mail (yes, I have her address..and when she answered an e-mail "test", she signed it "Patty"....I feel like she just invited me into her kitchen for tea and cookies!!). She even asked me to call her when I come to the States this summer because she would love to talk to me some more. My students this morning thought it was wonderful that I had spoken to her...they have many questions that I am getting ready to put into a message to send later.


So really....I'm not accustomed to meeting famous people, by any stretch of the imagination...the closest I've gotten to "stardom" was a moment with Ken Watanabe a while back...this woman is somebody pretty damn special...and how totally cool, is that?!?!

I like being amazed at the kindness of others....that someone would take the time to talk, on a Sunday morning with some sputtering stranger who called out of the blue. Yes...today...the sun was shining for more reasons than just the fact that there were no clouds today!


I hope that your Monday is a bright and shiny one....


12 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Wow! What a cool thing to have happen. And a great teaching idea.

Memarie Lane said...

It seems like writers are more accessible now, especially since so many of them have blogs. I recently found out that my favorite writer, Paulo Coelho has a blog. Took me weeks to get up the nerves to leave a comment.

Claudia said...

OH WOW! How cool!!! Now if you could just get me in to see David Duchovny...*sighs*

Mrs. G. said...

What a wonderful story! I LOVE this book, and now I love it even more!

Family Adventure said...

Wow, Debbie, that is awesome. I love that she was so friendly and approachable...do you think your Japanese students now will think their teacher is a miracle worker who knows all American celebrities?! :)

Heidi

AP said...

That's so freakin' awesome!

ms-teacher said...

What an authentic learning experience for your students! I love that the author is as down to earth as her character :)

Karen MEG said...

That is fantastic Debbie! And wonderful that she is so accessible to her fans. This is such a wonderful project!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I am freaking out for you! That is fantastic! Yay you for the courage it took to call.

I'm totally inspired - between Mrs. G's story of writing a letter to and getting a response from David Sedaris and now YOUR story, I must get in touch with authors I love.

Sadly I'm a couple hundred years too late to chat with Keats & Byron...

The Girl Next Door said...

What a totally awesome teaching idea and such a cool person. What a refreshing and delightful thing to have a wonderful and talented human being share their talents with you. So Happy the sun is out for you! Yeah!!

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

How very cool! And brave of you, I wouldn't have had the nerve to call!

Leeann said...

That is totally and completely cool!!

You are a fantastic teacher!

Leeann