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Family in England

I’ll be sharing a few photos from our recent (unanticipated) trip to England. We went to see a family member with health concerns.

 family in living roomThis is my favorite photograph from the batch. Richard’s Mom, Silvana, is just left of center in a green cardigan. She is flanked by her daughters Sophie (on left of photo) and Ariane. The young man is Ariane’s son, James. He is holding his daughter, Taiya. Richard’s Dad, Tony, is behind Ariane. Four generations!

Richard & T

Richard can never resist teasing a gigglebox.

R & S and cameraRichard brought his Canon C100 to show his mother some of the video stuff he’s been working on and how he does it.

Richard Sophie Eth and Harriett

We drove down to Illminster to visit with two of Sophie’s kids, Harriett and Ethan.

tony

Tony Campbell.

Reasons to Keep the Second Best Shots

Deciding whether to save non-optimal images is something all photographers face. Back in the days when photographs were captured on rolls of film, it was a no-brainer to keep the negatives at the very least. Nowadays, it is tempting to delete the images we don’t immediately recognize as good ones. After all, high quality digital images take up a lot of space on hard drives. Here’s yet another reason to reconsider hitting the delete button. Yesterday I shared an image from a PTA meeting about 40 years ago. In the “best image” many faces are obscured. When I consider the sequence of images, however, I can identify many more people. You can see what I mean.
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Singing at a PTA meeting in the early 70s

My mother and I are working slowly but surely toward getting her 40 plus years of negatives organized, and a selection of them scanned. We got a big batch of scanned images back recently, and I finally had time to take a close look. Here’s a fun one. This was taken shortly after we moved to Mississippi, probably in 1973. My classmates and I are in the Richardson Primary School cafeteria, performing at a PTA meeting.

RichardsonPTASequence-1

I happen also to be in the midst of helping plan a party celebrating the 30th anniversary of our graduation from Port Gibson High School. I have a feeling we’ll get some laughs from these old photographs. I see our class president Morise Duffin and Stephani Barnes, Tabatha Martin, Sheila Dorsey, Tamara Henderson, Joe Wilson, Patrick Mackey, Sonya Chapman. Other angles in other shots give me Pearl Smith and Dejuan Griffin. Help me with some of the other identifications, classmates.

International Reading Association 2014

I am finally home after a long road stretch. For the next few posts, I’ll catch you up on where I’ve been. I started with a trip to New Orleans to present a session and sign books at the International Reading Association National Conference.
Jess Sarah IRA

My sister, Jessica, and I presented a session with Dr. Amy Broemmel titled, “Reading and Writing Science Books: Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts.” Our session drew on our experience with a bookmaking project earlier this year at Girls Prep Charter School – Bronx, which is where Jessica is the reading specialist.

Amy Broemmel

Here is Amy, who teaches at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, talking about a list she developed of good mentor texts for specific types of writing.
looking at the girls' books

Jessica brought along some examples of the books published by the students at Girls Prep.

IRA 2014 Session-0376

I began my presentation, as I almost always do, with a reading of Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator. It was the first time my editor, Sarah Zhang, had heard me present. She took these photographs.
Sarah with QAL
I noticed Queen Anne’s Lace growing on the side of the interstate so I stopped to pick some for Sarah. We used it to decorate the table at my signing.
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Our signing was a success.
cousins
I learned through Facebook that my cousin, Meg Sanford, a first grade teacher, was also in town for IRA. So, we met up for dinner along with Jessica and her husband JC, my friend, Julie, and some of Meg’s colleagues. It was a fun way to end the day.

Horn Book Gives Mysterious Patterns Strong Review

mysterious patterns coverMy Horn Book magazine arrived yesterday with the review for Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature. It brought a big smile to my face.

“Bring up the math term fractals in a roomful of adults, and it’s likely quite a few eyes will glaze over. Yet wife-and-husband team Sarah and Richard Campbell (Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, rev. 5/10) succeeds in making fractals accessible and engaging to—get this—the elementary-school crowd. Sarah Campbell’s writing is clear, fluid, and concise, effortlessly so.”

The review is illustrated with a spread from the book (pp.12-13), which explains fractals and illustrates the explanation with a graphic of a fractal tree and a photograph of a living tree. Here’s a blog post from the day we took the tree photographs.

It still gives me thrill to see my work reviewed in The Horn Book because it has been part of my education in children’s books. “Glossy, well-designed pages feature crisp, up-close photographs, which pair perfectly with the text — making this the go-to choice for introducing fractals to children (and grownups).

Back-to-Back Conferences

On Friday, I drive to New Orleans to present at the International Reading Association‘s Annual Conference. I’ll be doing a session Saturday called “Reading and Writing Science Books? Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts,” with Dr. Amy Broemmel, who teaches pre-service teachers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo, who is a reading specialist at Girls Prep Charter School Bronx in New York. I spent a few days at Girls Prep in March, which you can read about here.

I will be signing copies of Mysterious Patterns and my other books on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Boyds Mills Press booth.

On Monday, I fly to Pennsylvania for Writing About Nature, a Highlights workshop held at the homeplace of Highlights’ founders, Garry and Caroline Meyers. I’m excited to be on a faculty that includes Dianna Hutts AstonSallie WolfDebbie S. Miller, Mark Baldwin, and Andy Boyles (science editor at Highlights). I’ll be presenting a session titled “Photos + Stories = Winning Nonfiction,” critiquing manuscripts, and learning more about nature journaling and photography.

Boston Globe Review

The Boston Globe ran a nice review of Mysterious Patterns, too. “Sarah C. Campbell, aided by photographs she and her husband, Richard P. Campbell took, explains what does (lightning) and doesn’t (a swallowtail caterpillar’s markings) constitute a fractal. She delivers a tidy education, gives a nod to the use of fractals in the built world, and offers the hope that readers will invent new uses.

Read full review here.

Poindexter Park Comes to Purple Word

Last Saturday, the Poindexter Park After School Club came to the Purple Word to make their own fractal pop-up books, as well as to learn more about the book- and print-making processes.

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The group first learned about fractals after reading Mysterious Patterns.

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The students finally unfold their fractals.

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Even group leaders Mr. Brad and Ms. Keyana had fun making the fractals!

 

After learning what a fractal is and how to make their own, the group moved to the back room of Purple Word to make their own monotype prints.  Suzanne, a staff member at Millsaps College, taught the kids about reductionist prints — that is, prints in which the design is made by taking away ink rather than adding ink.

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Suzanne helps the students spread their ink — a task that is certainly much harder than it looks.
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Here I am helping a student roll out her ink —  a very big task for small arms!

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Like I mentioned earlier, this form of print-making is a form of reductionism.  The students used Q-tips to remove ink from their plates to be printed on paper.

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The group eagerly watches as Suzanne runs a test print under the roller.

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Keyana, Sarah, Suzanne, and I with the kids after a fun morning.

Children’s Book Festival

I presented recently at the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi.

heather & sarah
Here I am signing a book for my friend and science writer Heather Montgomery.

My friend Julie Owen and I presented a session called Finding Fractals, Making Fractals to a full room.

in the session
Two attendees checking out the Educator’s Guide that Boyds Mills Press developed to go with Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature.

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done
listening to fractal stories
A librarian telling me a story about a fractal song.
S&J with samples
Julie and I are holding Fractal Pop-Up Books made by fifth grade students at St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Baton Rouge. Read about that work here.
I posted the instruction sheet for making Fractal Pop-up Books in your library or classroom on my website here.

I appreciate the help we had from Mary Schmidt, my intern. She took photographs, helped participants, and edited photographs.

Heroes & Friends

I spent Saturday down near home for the funeral of Mrs. Artemeasie Brandon. I knew Mrs. Brandon first because she raised my friend, Marhea Farmer, who I’ve known since second grade. Mrs. Brandon, 97, was also a quilter and I got to know her through an artist-the-schools program my mother created.
cq group
Here’s a photograph of Crossroads Quilters, a group I later joined, with Mrs. Brandon in the center. Later, when Marhea and I were in high school, we edited an oral history magazine that featured quilters, storytellers, folk artists, teachers, and other interesting people in the community.
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Mr. Nate Jones spoke at Mrs. Brandon’s funeral because they were longtime friends. Mr. Jones will be 100 on Thursday. He drove my school bus when I first moved to Mississippi in second grade. He made a special place for me to sit up beside him, and I loved it. I named my middle son for Mr. Jones. When my older sister, Emilye, grew up to be a historian of the Civil Rights Movement, we learned much about the courage of people like Mr. Jones, one of the first members of the NAACP in Claiborne County, who quietly but forcefully stood up for justice.
sarah marhea
Understandably it was a hard day for Marhea, who now lives in Michigan, to say goodbye to Mama Mease.
marheas boys
I had a chance to visit briefly with Marhea’s sons, Marius and Avery.
Rhonda & Ricky
And some of Mrs. Brandon’s other young relatives, Rhonda and Ricky, who went to school with my younger sister, Jessica.

Girls Prep Public Charter Visit

Last month, I visited Girls Prep Public Charter School in the Bronx, New York, to work with second grade students for a unit on writing nonfiction books. While I was there, I also spent an hour with the fourth grade writing club. With second grade, I worked with the students for three days. I was testing some ideas for a presentation I am slated to give at the International Reading Association annual conference in New Orleans in May.

Girls Prep WS group

The first day, I presented my “Love a Critter? Make a Book” session to all three classes in one big group. It was Read Across America Day so some of the girls and teachers were dressed as characters in books.

jess in background
The reason I chose Girls Prep is that my sister, Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo (pictured in the center dressed as the tree in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom), works there as a reading specialist. Jessica will join me and Dr. Amy Broemmel, a professor of education at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, to present “Reading and Writing Science Books? Paths to Creating Authentic Informational Texts.”
teacher gp small group
In the second and third days at Girls Prep, I led each class in a mini-lesson and then the girls did some guided practice. On the first day, my topic was “Taking information from research and writing in my own words to suit my purpose,” and the second day, it was “Making a plan for my writing, keeping my purpose in mind.”
lady bug girl
julie
sarah w stu
During the mini-lesson on planning, I showed the students how I make a book dummy when I am deciding the order of things in my books. I led them in making an instant book.
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numbering
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girl writing
The feedback from the second grade writing unit has been good. One teacher said she believes the girls really understand author’s purpose in a much deeper way. One student told her teacher: “This is the most fun I’ve had while learning!” That’s exactly what writing should be. Fun, while learning!
I’ll post photographs of my session with the fourth grade writing club next.

Mysterious Patterns Big Splash at NSTA

Richard and I had a great time at the annual convention of the National Science Teachers Association in Boston. We signed at least 80 books for teachers, professors, and science specialists. Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature got lots of love!

session

On Saturday, I was part of a session called “A Real-Life Page Turner: Award-winning Trade Book Authors Share Their Research Strategies.” As always I began by talking about Wolfsnail. We had about 40 participants who rotated through three tables for 15-minute mini sessions. A group of professors of literacy and science education put the session together.

dr. saul

Dr. Wendy Saul opened the session with a discussion of why books remain important, especially in nonfiction.

mp in session
Here I am talking about the page in Mysterious Patterns where the first explanation of fractals comes.
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A look at the other groups’ tables.
amy broemmel
Here I am conferring with Dr. Amy Broemmel, an early literacy expert at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She was my table partner for this session, and will be a co-presenter with me and Jessica Crosby-Pitchamootoo at the International Reading Association annual conference in New Orleans in May.

In addition to presenting and signing books, I attended a number of great sessions, including:

Asking, Imagining, Arguing: Using Books to Provide Examples of Science Practices in Action (Broemmel, Rearden)

NSTA Press® Session: The Authors’ Picks! Teaching Science Through Trade Books (Royce, Morgan, Ansberry)

Sense-of-Place Writing Templates: Connect Your Students’ Past Experiences with Science AND Literacy! (Clary)

Using Writing to Motivate Students to Learn Science (Caukin)

Connecting Science, Engineering, and Literacy in an Elementary Classroom (Laurier, Denisova)

family
While I was attending sessions, Richard was hanging out with Graeme at MIT. We shared three suppers in a row. It was nice!