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Archives | Sylvia McNicoll

Halton Oakville Speech Contest

Last night I acted as a judge for a speech contest. The students spoke on topics such as volunteering, smiling, technology, epilepsy, miracles, child labour,Emilia Erhart, positive attitude–okay that accounts for nine of 15 of them–volunteering was tackled twice.

I sat at the back of the room and had to watch for eye contact (do they even have eyes, next time I’m bringing binoculars) and check for a whole list of things including correct use of language, logic and devolopment of topic etc (I was given a ruberik). Whenever I hear that word I’m worried I’ll have to move coloured squares into the right position.
The problem, of course, was this 15 students were all winners from their own schools so they were masters. You couldn’t eliminate anyone for obvious errors such as mistiming or reading her/his entire speech.
Whenever I judge a contest, whether it’s for writing, plays or speeches, I hope that someone stands out as the best because really, many are very good. And in this case so did the other two judges, really nice people–an Oakville city councilor and a consultant for the board–can’t find their names in my notes right now.
Here’s our unanimous vote for winner: Sabrina Freeas. She spoke on Child Labour and actually gave out brands that employ it. Lucky I can’t afford those brands anyway. I wonder if we should all just sew.
Congratulations to Sabrina and Halton Separate Schools for hosting such worthwhile activities.

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Coming up with ideas is hard-Charles R. Beaudoin School

This is a shot of the grade 5 gifted class at Charles R. Beaudoin. They are my last students for this year’s Ontario Artist in Education stint and for each of the six weeks I essentially taught the same thing in various degrees of intensity depending on abilities. This could get boring after a while except for the kids. They’re all so different. These students like to offer up random interesting facts much like my adult writing friends do. Sometimes they’re all over the place with their thoughts and things, pencils, paper etc. Just like me. So I feel at home with them.

So far my favourite comment has been “This isn’t as easy as it looks,” from a boy who was trying to come up with his license plate motto. So true about coming up with any idea or writing in general.

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March Break

Besides rewriting Death on YouTube till it was Dying to Go Viral and recovering from a cold, I spent March break recovering from a cold and hanging with my favourite people, the grandchildren. What did we do? Well, one hillarious passtime was spinning until Omi wanted to hurl or until you dropped. See the first shot. Jadzia has already dropped but even Mortie the Jackapoo enjoyed the challenge.

Of course we read together. I love the shot of Hunter and William reading together. Wish I could say they were entranced by one of my Canadian friends’ writing. But no, it’s Captain Underpants.
Thirdly we had great weather and went to Crawford Lake. Hunter loved the aboriginal stuff he saw on his trip with his grade three class. He’s making cornbread with a gang of volunteers here. We also went to Bronte Creek twice and ate maple candy. A great holiday all around.


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The Writer Talks on Voice without one

The week before March break, I was stricken with one of those annoying colds that makes your throat sore for three days and then launches you into a full blown sneezy wheezy grumpy dopey (and all the other dwarves) colds.

The irony was the teachers at Charles Beaudoin had hoped I might address “voice” in writing.
Well sure. It was hard to do without one. Sucking on Halls and ice cubes, drinking tea and sipping on homemade chicken soup all didn’t help.
To crown it all, I performed my first virtual visit at Aurora Public Library’s YA book club.
I rested my voice for hours only to discover I hissed like a crazed granny when I tried to talk about Last Chance for Paris. ( Also I need to figure out lighting because either I was totally in the dark or I looked as though a divine light was shining through my face.) I wanted so badly to chat with them too. Although many of them were fantasy readers they said they all enjoyed my book.
With a week off from AIE (artist in education) duties, I’m all better. I did manage to write without a voice. I finished Death on YouTube and renamed it Dying to Go Viral. Now I’m dying to hear how my agent and Norwegian publisher like it.

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Grade 5 Character Charles Beaudoin School

Wednesday at Charles Beaudoin I led a workshop with grade 5s on character. Then, while currently I forget the names of the great teacher and student teacher in the background, I did remember to take a

few snapshots. You can tell a lot about the character of the school and teachers by the energy and verve the students exhibit. Look at these walls–they’re covered in stories and writing tips. The students were terrific

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to work with as they went straight to writing from our prewriting exercise. It’s easy to talk about writing, it’s another to work quietly inside your head when all around you the world is teeming.

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