Enriching their writing

Professional author works with Hathaway Elementary students

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Author Elizabeth Rusch explains a writing activity to fourth-graders at Hathaway School Elementary during a workshop last Tuesday. Rusch, a children's author, also conducted two assemblies for students. Her visit was paid for by a grant from the Washougal Schools Foundation and Hathaway Boosters' funding.

Author Elizabeth Rusch looked out at the room of attentive fourth-graders.

“I want you to think of a place, real or imaginary, and use all five senses to describe where you are without saying the place,” she said. “Then we try to guess what it is.”

It’s one of her favorite activities to have students participate in when she visits schools.

Last week, Rusch, an award-winning children’s author, presented two assemblies for students at Hathaway Elementary School, along with three writing workshops for fourth-graders.

In addition to writing books, Rusch also contributes articles for magazines. Her areas of interest include science, art and discovery.

Besides being a celebrated author and a scientific researcher, Rusch is also a highly acclaimed writing teacher. Hathaway reading specialist Cathy Burrows contacted the author a few months ago to see if she would visit the school.

“Ms. Rusch creates presentations and writing workshops based on her deep knowledge and love of non-fiction subjects,” said Burrows. “During the workshops at Hathaway, students were inspired by her interactive, common-core writing instruction. Our students gained important insights about how to make their writing ‘come alive’ for the reader. They were so excited about the process that they wanted to continue creating and sharing throughout the day.”

Rusch visits schools regularly to teach writing workshops.

“Because I write for kids, It is good to connect with how they react and respond to things,” she said. “It helps me get a better sense of how they think. This is a really good way to see my audience, firsthand.”

Her “From Senses to Setting,” workshop teaches students how to make their writing more interesting by using all five senses.

“It really makes it come to life,” she said. “Plus it is pretty fun for them.”

Fourth-grade teacher Sarah Dryden enjoyed having a writing professional work with her students.

“I love having an expert here,” she said. “The kids are really into the activities and are learning new things.”

This author visit was made possible through a grant from the Washougal Schools Foundation and from Hathaway Boosters funding.

The Hathaway library’s collection includes several of Rusch’s books.

Teachers have been checking them out to use in instruction.

“Ms. Rusch has already provided Common Core discussion questions/activities to our teachers to accompany each book,” Burrows said. “The classroom study of nonfiction text enriched our curriculum as teachers prepared the students for this event.”

For more information about Rusch and her books, go to