On Thursday, October 30th, my after-school creative writing group and I were thrilled to welcome author Gayle Forman to our classroom. The weeks leading up to the visit were filled with intense excitement. Students asked in disbelief, “THE Gayle Forman? Is coming here?” and “Will she sign my book?” and “Can I tell her about my character?” The answer to all of these questions was yes.
By having the students ask “What if?” questions, Gayle and the students came up with an idea for a story. She then guided them towards developing a conflict, a character, and even a setting. The students greatly participated in the activity and didn’t want the story building to end.
When the story building was over, leaving the students with a good plan for a story that could go in any direction (let’s just say the working title is “Switcheroo”), Gayle answered SO MANY QUESTIONS! I was impressed by how insightful the students’ questions were. They asked about If I Stay, Gayle’s book (turned-movie) that is in high demand across the grades. They also asked questions about Gayle’s process and her other books. Gayle answered all one-zillion of their questions with patience and grace.
The students then told Gayle about the characters they are developing in our writing workshop, and she listened and commented on each one. To end the visit, she signed their books – some had their own copies of If I Stay, and those who didn’t had Gayle sign their writing notebooks, which I think is the best place for an author autograph.
Afterward, the students wandered around completely star-struck and in awe. THEY HAD MET GAYLE FOREMAN! SHE HAD TALKED TO THEM! ANSWERED THEIR QUESTIONS! SIGNED THEIR BOOKS! It was an unforgettable day for them. It was perfect.