Adapting school presentations or Braille is cool!
Shenaaz Nanji is a long time writer friend, critique partner and a member of the Kensington Writers' Group. She also gave me a great back of the book cover quote for Dead Frog on the Porch and coined the phrase: It's Nancy Drew for the ipod generation.
Oh, did I forget to mention that she was a Governor General award finalist in 2008 for her young adult novel Child of Dandelions - which pits two teenaged friends on opposite sides of Idi Amin's expulsion of Indian nationals from Uganda. For my bloggowers outside of Canada - the GG is one of the most prestigious literary awards we have here in Canada. Shenaaz is also humble and doesn't like me bragging about her, so I'll stop now.
She recently did a series of school visits during Literacy Days for Low Vision and Braille Readers/Writers at the Vision Resource Centre in Calgary. I thought it would be interesting to see how she adapted her presentation for her audience.
She presented stories from her book Indian Tales, and brought drums to increase the auditory content of her presentation.
Here's her guest blog post. It starts off like a police report and then goes from there ...
Author: Shenaaz Nanji
Story: The Drummer Boy from Indian Tales (Barefoot Books)
Where: The Vision Resource Centre in Calgary
Verdict: Exciting, Empowering, Enriching. Braille is cool.
Kindergarten to Grade 12 students from different schools in Calgary met at the Vision Resource Centre. They came with infectious smiles, backpacks, canes, and Electronic Braille Readers.
The centre was hooked up by video conference to the centre in Edmonton so all visually impaired students from Edmonton participated. The medium facilitated face to face interaction of the Calgary and Edmonton students. The children realized there were not alone in facing their unique challenges.
Each student introduced himself/herself and spoke clearly.
The teacher introduced the title of the session: "How the Elephant Got It’s Tail."
She went on to say “Of course, we do not have tails, do we?”
One of them said “I do. But the other type. T A L E," he spelled it out loud.
It was interesting to hear their views. They wanted Braille signs inside Elevators, Outside Washroom, on menus in Restaurants. They wanted Braille in Libraries, Book Stores, Drug stores, Toy stores. They want more Braille books in libraries and signs on the major streets. They wondered: Why are there no Braille signs on videogames, CD’s or on any appliances at home? To my astonishment I realized that even with vision I made mistakes like bursting into the men’s washroom twice.
The climax was when I read "The Drummer Boy" while the students followed the story in Braille. The teacher had the story transcribed into Braille. The printed copies of the story were distributed to each student. As I read along the story, the students followed it word by word, their hands rustling over paper, with great anticipation and trepidation as to what the Drummer Boy would do now. Would he get the drum? It was especially thrilling when everyone chimed in the chorus with such enthusiasm while two children beat the drums.
Time to workshop. I read them the beginning and middle of "A Thirsty Crow." Students came up with different endings to the story. Laughter, Surprise and Fun!
I mispronounced the name of an eight year old student. Boy! She spoke up.
During the reading of my Crow story. I began: “Now you’ve all have seen a crow...” Oops!
The session ended with presenting me "The Drummer Boy" in Braille. A student showed me how to read Braille. It was tough and a slow process. Got to use both hands and scan line by line, a process called traction. Before I left a student ran up to me. I asked her if she had a question and she gave me a hug. What a warm goodbye on a cold wintry day.