California School Assemblies Teach Kids That Writing is a Blast!
One of the most difficult tasks a teacher has is teaching kids to write. Children are usually put off by this task and don’t realize how much fun it can be to engage in creative writing.
Many schools, seeking to excite students and prod them into writing turn to famous or not so famous authors of children's literature and arrange a visit from such an author. And, indeed, sometimes this can help. But often the writer of great books is not a great or engaging speaker. Moreover, since writing itself is their principal love, many only visit schools reluctantly and therefore charge exorbitant rates or impose outlandish conditions upon the school. Not quite as bad as rock stars insisting that green M&M’s be removed from the dish backstage, but oftentimes times almost as bad!
Thankfully, a real and delightful alternative exists. Frequent readers will have heard me speak before about Young Authors Day, our creative writing program performed by a classical mime.
This thoroughly entertaining and important program was created by Toma The Mime, a student of famous French classical mime Marcelle Marceau. Toma has drawn rave reviews in this program for almost twenty years and is still getting kids excited about writing all over the midwest, Texas and the East Coast.
But what is a West Coast school to do?
Well, Mobile Ed has you covered! Young Authors Day is such a popular and “in-demand” school assembly that we have had Toma train other performers to carry the program into areas time will not permit him to visit.
In California we are exceptionally fortunate and blessed to have the talents of Karen Lorshbough available to visit our schools and she is magnificent! A skilled and highly trained classical mime in her own right, Karen came to us some years ago and she and Toma hit it off immediately. I have to say it was amusing having them both here in the office simultaneously during training! We never knew what was going to be waiting around any corner in the office!
Karen now lives in Southern California, but travels all over the west for Mobile Ed bringing her performing skills to play and instilling in children a wonderful love of creative writing.
The day starts with a 45 minute program in which Karen demonstrates to the delight of her audience how a story may be told through mime. In the process, the children are not only highly entertained, but also learn how a mime may play multiple characters in the same story. During the program she occasionally breaks character as the mime and becomes “the author”, explaining how she comes up with ideas for stories, how she puts them down on paper, the differences between writing for a reader versus writing for a performer and so on. The children are mesmerized. Toward the end of the assembly she sends the children back to their rooms armed with a simple plot-based rubric for writing stories, and challenged to write their own. During the balance of the morning Karen visits classrooms while the children are writing and offers support, suggestions and other assistance. In the afternoon, students are treated to a reprise performance when in a large group assembly, Karen proceeds to perform stories written by the students that morning. The excitement and joy is palpable and the day leaves an indelible mark on the kids teaching them that writing is a blast! This energy remains in the classrooms for weeks following a visit.
Some schools capitalize on a visit by also scheduling an evening show so that parents can view the stories written by their sons and daughters. These events are always well attended, as what parent can resist their child begging them to return to the school at night?
So if you are out on the left coast reading this, and you are contemplating picking out the green M&M’s to satisfy some demanding author, why bother? A visit from the lovely Karen is not only more effective, but also so much more fun!
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN