How is a book created? How can kids get motivated and organized for writing? These questions are answered with the help of a spunky special needs child, an iguana, and lots of photographs.

Ellen Senisi, author and photographer of 18 books for young readers and former teacher, walks students through how a book is created and steps of the writing process. She shows the book creation and production history for her title All Kinds of Friends, Even Green while using a graphic organizer of steps to good writing. The book’s development is followed from the first scratch paper draft through writing, editing, and production to final printed copy. Along the way she emphasizes the importance of the creative process and editing. Her sub-themes are drawn from the featured book (which children can have free access to ahead of time) and include special needs awareness and pets as friends and inspiration.

The theme of the book aligns with the theme of the presentation as Moses, a boy with spina bifida, struggles with how to write about a friend for a school assignment.

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Ellen Senisi – Ecosystem Connections with All in a Rainforest Day Book

BOCES ID

1333

For

K-2, 3-5

Categories

Creative Writing, Visual Arts

Curriculum

Science, ELA

Costs

In-person full-day visit: $950
In-person half-day visit: $550
Virtual presentation including follow-up activity: $250 ($350 for two sessions on the same day)
Travel expenses apply outside New York’s Capital Region or Manhattan.

The program length runs from 25-50 minutes, depending on grade levels addressed. Generally, schools opt to use the rest of the school day for individual classroom visits to answer questions and show production materials up close but other options may be arranged.

Dates Available

Year Round

Program Theme

What, exactly, is an ecosystem? How are its elements related? What crazy and cool organisms exist in the diverse rainforest ecosystem? These questions are answered using the high-interest theme of the rainforest along with a reading of Ellen’s book, All in a Rainforest Day, selections from her journal from a trip to the rainforest, and vibrant photos and video clips. Students are encouraged to write their own Rainforest Day story later using ecosystem elements shown in the presentation. For grades 3-5, picture book structure and rainforest conservation are also discussed. The program is designed to meet specific NGSS and ELA standards.

Ellen created this presentation by drawing on the abundant information, photos, and video clips she gathered while writing a rainforest-themed life science curriculum for K-5 students. She is also a former teacher and the author and photographer of 18 books for young readers. Teachers will be given access to downloadable teacher resources that may be used before or after the presentation.

Program Description

The presentation is structured around her book, All in a Rainforest Day, which shows diverse plants and animals and how their needs are met in the rainforest ecosystem throughout a day. Before the reading, background information about the rainforest ecosystem is shared through photos, video clips, and selections from a trip journal created on a visit in the Amazonian Rainforest Basin. This provides background knowledge of the rainforest ecosystem to deepen understanding of the book when it is read. For students in grades 3-5, journal writing and primary/secondary sources are also covered briefly here.

After the reading, Ellen asks students questions about what they saw or heard in the book. They review a graphic organizer and a brief video summing up the ecosystem theme. Students are then encouraged to write their own rainforest day story using what they have seen and heard in the presentation.

For K-2 presentations, if time allows, she reads her story with photo illustrations about a mother and baby orangutan who find all they need in the rainforest ecosystem. For grade 3-5 presentations, picture book structure is discussed, making the reading of a picture book relevant to older readers. Students also view a brief video about rainforest destruction, hear about conservation efforts, and learn specific steps that they can take to support rainforest preservation. The program closes as students exit with photos set to rainforest sounds.

After the program, Ellen typically visits individual classrooms to answer student questions. Opportunities for follow up are available. Teachers may designate several note takers to record ecosystem components shown in the presentation so students have a list to refer to while writing their own rainforest day story. Downloadable resources that will be made available to teachers include discussion questions, an ecosystems graphic organizer, and six hands-on activities (one for each grade from K-5). Documentation is provided on science and ELA standards addressed.

Recommendation:
Dear Mrs. Senisi,
That you so much for visiting Sacandaga Elementary School and awaking the authors in my kindergarten class! Even as we were walking back to our classroom from your presentation, my students were brainstorming the supplies they wanted me to gather so that they could author their own books. In the weeks since your visit, writing, illustrating, and sharing has become a daily event in our room. Thank you for empowering my little authors! — Mrs. L.

Phone

(518) 852-0007

Address

1834 Lenox Road, Schenectady NY 12308

Other Programs

— Create a Photoessay (K-5) Students in an individual classroom get a photo skills session, a lesson on blending photos and words, practice writing, then do hands-on work creating their own picture stories.

— Star In A Picture Book (pre-K – 5) Students are photographed by Ellen at work and play or on a chosen theme in their classroom. Class uses the photographs to create a book about themselves. This program works successfully with pre-K as well as students with special needs, who are often not able to benefit from traditional programming.

— Writing Steps and How a Book is Created (K-5) How is a book created? How can kids get motivated and organized for writing?  These questions are answered with the help of a spunky special needs child, an iguana, and lots of photographs. Ellen shows the book creation and production history for her title All Kinds of Friends, Even Green. The theme of the book aligns with the theme of the presentation as Moses, a boy with spina bifida, struggles with how to write about a friend for a school assignment. The book’s history is followed from scratch paper to printed book. Along the way she emphasizes the importance of the creative process and editing. Her sub-themes are drawn from the book and include special needs awareness and pets as friends and inspiration. Teacher resources with follow up materials are included.

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