Tag Archives: Patricia McKissack

Author Fred McKissack was the Genuine Article

Patricia and Fred McKissack
Patricia and Fred McKissack during a 2008 webinar

by Martha Bogart

Fred McKissack died last Sunday, and the world just isn’t the same place without him.  Fred was one of those men that you always hear about on the news when they die—he was so nice, so friendly, such a good heart, etc. etc., except—Fred was the genuine article.  I don’t think I have ever met a better human being than Fred.  He and his wife, Pat, helped us here at CSD to create the New Links to New Learning videoconferencing program from scratch.  This was at a time, back in 1998, when if you asked someone to do a videoconference, the response was, “A what?”  But, CSD had received a grant from Southwestern Bell and Ruth Block’s task was to get schools interested and participating in videoconferences with students.  She approached Pat and explained what she wanted to do—provide students with videoconferences from children’s authors—and Pat and Fred were immediately in.  They didn’t know what it was, exactly, but if it helped kids, they were going to do it.

And do it they did!  Those first videoconferences were scary—Would the equipment work? Would the school personnel be able to dial in? What should the programming and content delivery look like? Would the kids like it? Would they learn anything?  But from the very beginning, the author visits were magical.  The camera would zoom in, and there would be Pat and Fred, smiling and talking, and answering questions from children about the books they had written, how they got their ideas, their writing process, how they went about researching for each book, which book was their favorite, and so much more.  How wonderful to be speaking directly to the authors of a book they had just read right from their classrooms, no matter where they were in the world!  And eventually, as we worked together to perfect the process, the students even got to do some original writing and have it critiqued by real authors.

No videoconference would have been complete without their signature sign-on—a map of Missouri with a star on the city of St. Louis. Pat would say that they were from Missour-ee, and Fred would say that they were from Missour-ah.  Then they would explain that people living on the east side of the state used the French pronunciation with an “e” on the end, while people on the west side used the Native American pronunciation with an “ah” on the end.  The kids got a kick out of it, and I never tired of that intro.

So many wonderful programs, it’s hard to pick a favorite.  Like the one where the kids developed a service project after they read Messy Bessey, and they collected toys and clothing they no longer needed to donate to others.  Or, the study of winter holidays around the world students did after reading Messy Bessey’s Holidays. Fred was the main presenter of the research process that he went through when he and Pat wrote Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, a wonderful book that takes place on a plantation during the Christmas before the start of the Civil War.  Then, there was the summer reading program we did with the St. Louis County Library where every student got a signed copy of Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba. Children came to several branches of the library, and we did multipoint videoconferencing with Pat and Fred who were broadcasting from CSD.

Fred was in his element when he talked about the research process.  He emphasized the use of the library and the reference librarians, and he talked about primary sources and all of his and Pat’s trips to various locations around the globe to gather first-hand stories and information that formed the basis for much of their books.  He also loved to talk politics and was up on current affairs and the state of the union.  I remember having long talks with him that were interesting and insightful—with lots of laughter in the mix!  Fred was a real gentleman, and a truly “gentle” man.

What a role model Fred was to young African-American boys!  Here was a brilliant, funny, sweet man who had traveled the world, written books, researched in libraries all over the place, and yet was so approachable and willing to talk to kids and answer their questions no matter what they were.

We will miss you, Fred.  Thank you for all that you did for CSD, for the children of our region, and for embracing new technology and taking risks. God speed, my friend.

Distance Learning Author Visit Opportunity

The latest addition of Patricia McKissack’s Clone Codes series was released in February 2011! In the first book of the trilogy that came out last year, “cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom.” Clone Codes, The #2: Cyborg tells the story of Houston, a cyborg in the year 2130, and how he is considered less than human. Co-written with her husband Fred and her son John, “The Clone Codes sci-fi adventure trilogy continues with this [second] book that blends a futuristic society with pivotal moments in world history.”

Both Clone Codes books will be discussed in Pat’s upcoming Science Fiction-Creative Writing three-part videoconference series. This series now only costs $250 to participate in – for all three sessions. New Links members get an even deeper discount- for three sessions, members can participate in these author visit workshops for just $200.

The goal of the project is to introduce students to the process that authors use to write and illustrate a book and to engage them in writing activities themselves that mirror this process. At the end of the project, students will be able to:

• Use brainstorming and invention techniques to come up with writing ideas.
• Discriminate between different types of audiences.
• Create a science fiction story line.
• Understand character development and create their own characters.
• Understand descriptive techniques in writing & write descriptive paragraphs.
• Create multiple drafts of their work and share them through peer editing.
• Analyze their writing and that of other students.
• Share their work through email with the authors and with each other.
• Evaluate the writing of others and give constructive feedback.
• Revise their writing to conform to the correct standards of English.

To register, contact Rebecca Morrison at Cooperating School Districts by Friday, April 1, 2011. The vc days/times are:
• 4 o’clock central on April 13th (teacher session)
• 11 o’clock central on April 27th (student session I)
• 11 o’clock central on May 11th (student session II)

Team Work – Collaboration Videoconference

Children’s book authors, Patricia McKissack and her son, Fredrick McKissack, Jr., conduct a 60-90 minute session about their collaboration on several books– Black Diamond, the Story of the Negro Baseball Leagues, Hard Labor, and the upcoming graphic novel, Nat Love, Cowboy. During the highly interactive session, the McKissacks will discuss how the team works to maintain consistency, sequence, form, and accuracy. Students will be asked to participate by answering a brief quiz that will identify who might be a good collaborator with them.

During the videoconference with students, the McKissacks introduces themselves and give brief biographical information including how they became collaborators. After a definition of “collaboration” and the many forms it can take, the McKissacks will focus on research writing first draft, editing, and final draft as they are affected by collaboration.  Time for questions and answers from the students will follow, along with a brief test to see who would be a good collaborator for you?

The goal of the project is to introduce students to the process that authors use to write and/or illustrate a book together. In addition, the project will encourage students to work with each other in the spirit of sharing, compromise, and respect for others’ thoughts & ideas.

At the end of the project students will be able to:

•  Work together brainstorming to come up with ideas for writing a short story.
•  Agree upon a story line.
•  Create a draft of the story then hand it off to the writing partner (collaborator).
•  Analyze their writing with each other.
•  Share their work through email with other collaborators.
•  Revise their writing to conform to the correct standards of English.
•  Prepare a finished manuscript (publish).

This videoconference will be $300 per session. Interested? Send your requests to Rebecca Morrison at Cooperating School Districts in St. Louis, Missouri.

Register for Winter Holidays Videoconference Series Today

What winter holidays do your students celebrate? Here’s a great chance to explore the different religious and cultural celebrations throughout the winter months!

Award winning author Patricia McKissack shares with students over a three part videoconference series her expertise when in comes to writing, and tells participants about her holiday book, Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters. This illustrated book compares the preparations between the plantation mansion and the slave quarters leading up to Christmas celebrations. In her author visit sessions with the students, Pat talks about the writing and researching process and then assigns a writing project on a winter holiday of their choosing. To read more about this unique videoconference series, please click here.

The cost for this writing workshop videoconference series is $650 for New Links to New Learning members and $750 for non-members. Sign up by the end of the day, Monday, November 1st with Cooperating School Districts‘ Rebecca Morrison: rmorrison@csd.org.

Dates/Times (CT) for 2010:

4 p.m. on  11/10- Pat meets with teachers
11 a.m. on 11/17- Pat meets with students
11 a.m. on 12/8- Pat meets with students

All-I’ll-Ever-Want Videoconference

Christmas DollAs part of her 60 minute Story Hour videoconference series through New Links to New Learning, author & storyteller Patricia McKissack will read her story The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll.

On December 15, 2010 at 10 o’clock CT, Pat will share The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll with connecting children. This book is for students ages 5-8; “It is Christmas, and Nella is beside herself with excitement! She and her sisters have been given a real gift – a beautiful Baby Betty doll. But it’s hard to share something you’ve waited your whole seven-year-old life for, and Nella grabs the doll for herself. It isn’t long before she discovers that a doll can’t do the fun things she and her sisters do together. So, as Christmas day fades, Nella shares it with her sisters. Set in the Depression era South, here’s a heartwarming story that captures the essence of the holiday.” (Amazon.com)

Elementary teachers, if you’d like to sign up for this holiday-themed videoconference, contact Rebecca Morrison at Cooperating School Districts by email: rmorrison@csd.org. The cost of this once a year program is $200 for New Links members, $250 for non-members. Please sign up for this program no later than December 6, 2010.

This videoconference meets the following Missouri Standards:
Communication Arts

In Communication Arts, students in Missouri public schools will acquire a solid foundation which includes knowledge of and proficiency in:
1. speaking and writing standard English (including grammar, usage, punctuation, spelling, capitalization)
2. reading and evaluating fiction, poetry and drama
5. comprehending and evaluating the content and artistic aspects of oral and visual presentations (such as story-telling, debates, lectures, multi-media productions)

November 1 Edit – only 1 spot still left in this videoconference!