The Battle of the Books group got to meet with him first, as he gave us the "behind the scenes" about writing his Galahad series of books! He shared how important character biographies are before writing the plot of your story. He also shared how he comes up with names for characters and other names in his books. For example, making a lis of options in naming the comet Bhaktul. Investing time researching was also a key idea he shared from an author's viewpoint. He made the distinct connection between reading and writing for our students and even showed his writing journal from when he was in 3rd grade! There was a lot of time for us to ask questions of Dom, lending the visit to be quite personal. Battle of the Books participants received a Galahad poster and bookmark from Dom at the end of the session! Each student will also be receiving Dom's first two books--The Comet's Curse and The Web of Titan!
Next up, Dom met with one of Ms. Hershberger's 6th grade journalism classes. His focus here was giving tips on blogging and putting your writing on the screen of your audience. Some tips include: take your own pictures to use on your blog (do NOT use Google Images--remember his copyright nightmare story?), don't make posts too long, vary your topics and format, and post your blog on social media. Again, our students had time to ask Dom numerous questions and he gladly entertained them!
We ended our day in Mrs. Hyman's 6th grade Exploring Literacy class. The main topic was writing mystery books, as Dom is about to publish a new series! He talked about how authors plan out a series and often have the first 3 books tie together and then write related, stand-alone books after that. He also showed us the mystery books he read as a youngster, as these served as one of his inspirations. The most exciting thing? Dom is going to send a piece of his new, not-yet-published Cooper James mystery to the class for feedback! They will be writing literary reviews to help him with his last round of refining. How cool is that?
As a digital literacy teacher/teacher librarian, this special day was years in the making! This is my 7th year in the library (though in our building, we call it the "learning commons") and I have wanted Dom to visit each of those years. It was well worth the wait, as careful planning made it possible for his visit to deeply impact specific groups of students. And the greatest residual effect? We have his wonderful books to enjoy throughout the building! The Galahad books are available in the learning commons for checking out, and his two books, Shaking Demons and Madison Cooley's Shoes will be available in classroom libraries for students to read. (These last two titles are published under Dom's pen name, Buster Blank.)
Many thanks to you, Dom Testa, for such a memorable day at The International School at Thornton Middle!