So You Want to be a Writer
On Teaching
Welcome to the Wonderful World of First Grade!
Welcome to the Wonderful World
of
FIRST GRADE!
 
 
 
Children\'s Writers Workshop
The Children's Writers Workshop has a new home on America Online. We are now located in CAREERS & WORKPLACE. The directions are included to make your traveling easier. Please stop by and bring a friend. The workshop is open each Thursday evening from 9 -10pm, EST.
(I regret that if your server is not America Online, you will not be able to access the room.)
 
School Days Colleagues

SCHOOL DAYS COLLEAGUES SCHOOL DAYS

 
Student Memories
 
 
 
 
More than 500 students have passed through my classroom since I began to teach in 1982 . . . some of them twice. Most of the time I teach 1st grade, but sometimes I teach 3rd. That’s why I am fortunate to have some of my students two times. All my students are special. All hold a precious corner of my heart. All are remembered one way . . . or another. Below, you can meet some of my students.
 
KINDLING WORDS: the RETREAT 2005
 
 
?OLE! Mexico ?OLE!
 
 
During the last two weeks of February, (March 1st deadline) I wrote a grant to study in Mexico for a month this summer. The grant opportunity was available to any teacher in the United States who teaches Spanish. However, only 30 teachers in the country would be accepted. Pretty mean odds! But, I decided to give it my best shot. I wanted this desperately -- like a dream come true.

The full title of the grant is Oregon International Institute -- Mexico: Integrating History, Language, and Culture. It's being funded by the (NEH) National Endowment for the Humanities.

The committee was to inform the applicants on April 1st. It was going to be a ve-r-r-r-r-r-y long month. Anyhow, on March 18th my phone rang and the poor man got the message, "I'm sorry, but we don't answer our phone." He started to congratulate me -- via the answer machine when I snatched that receiver right up. If you haven't already guessed, I was awarded the $2,800.00 grant. So on July 22nd, I already have my plane ticket, I will be heading to Puebla, Mexico (60 miles south of Mexico City) for a month to live with a Mexican family and study with 29 other teachers. Can you tell I'm a little excited?

The schedule is pretty intense. Our school day begins at 7:45 am. That's pretty early for summer! We have an hour of methods classes, two hours of Spanish language classes, (¿Cómo está usted?) and two more hours of classes to learn about Mexican history and culture each day. Then two afternoons per week we will take local culture & history excursions. (on-site visits and discussions) Every weekend we travel to another part of Mexico to continue our studies of the country. Some of the places we will visit are Oaxaca, Veracruz, Merida, and Mexico City. Am I in heaven yet? I know it is going to be a lot of work, but I am so looking forward to this. Oh I almost forgot, we can also take Mexican dance and music classes two nights a week. Guess what I'll be doing? ¡OLE!
 
Tribute to Paula Danziger
 
Paula Danziger
Paula Danziger - SCBWI NYC 2004
 
Paula and I first met in a restroom at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles at an SCBWI National Conference. She laughed when I told her I had typed most of an AMBER BROWN book into my computer to study her form and pacing. But that silly, little, accidental, encounter began a beautiful friendship. Later that week Paula gave me my very first SnackWell cookie. Okay, it was also my last, but I can never pass a SnackWell display without thinking of her. (May SnackWells live forever!)

Paula laughed when she called me and got my new answer machine message, “I’m sorry, but we do not answer our phone.” She laughed all through her message, too. “You HAVE GOT to USE that!” she said. “If you don’t, I will.” I saved that message for a very long time. And, when I do USE it, I will remember Paula and her joyous laughter.

We spent a great week together at Manhattanville College a few summers ago. After class was the best -- sitting in the library until closing -- playing computer card games and trying, with no success, to access a writers' chat room. Then sushi in the City, pink earmuffs, poring over Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First galleys, late night computer chats, and phone calls, and oh don’t forget the little glow in the dark earrings she gave me – purple – her favorite color – mine, too. (Well, at least for that day.) We had matching earrings. I always called her “Glitzy Girl!” Her earrings, rings, and necklaces; her scarves and boas, and beaded purses draped and hung all over her bedroom. These and her laughter and love all made up the Paula I knew, and are just some of the many “Paula” memories that I will cherish for always.

And so, saying good-bye to a friend is never easy. When it’s forever, it’s all so difficult. So I won’t say good-bye, Paula dear. Your fun-loving memory will be with me always. Our friendship wasn’t life-time, nor was it decades, (well almost) but the years that we called each other “friend” were very special, and to me those memories will always remain in my heart. I'll tell you again, "I love you, Sweetie."

With love, your friend,

Donna O'Donnell Figurski
 
My Published Work
Miss Emma Gets Her Way
Miss Emma Gets Her Way
 
 
Miss Emma Gets Her Way -- and why shouldn't she? She's been living in Old Mill all her life. She's the oldest person in Old Mill and everybody just loves her. But when Miss Emma goes to the town library and can't find a single new book, something has to be done.

Lucky for Miss Emma, Meg overhears her say, "What this town needs is more books!" Meg also loves to read and she couldn't agree more.

The next day, with the help of Meg's teacher and her friends, Meg hangs flyers all over Old Mill.

BOOK FAIR! BOOK FAIR! BOOK FAIR!

Meg couldn't wait for the fair. Neither could Miss Emma, and together they greeted everyone at the gate.

Funny clown balloons and silly hats, hot dogs and ice cream, tug-of-war games and wishing wells all brought the coins pouring in. Coins that would fulfill Miss Emma's wish, and coins that would fill the Old Mill Library with new books.
 
Phrogs FROGS Phrogs
Translucent Frog
Another State Street Frog
 
All Tied Up
This frog located near Dobbins Landing at the
foot of State Street near the bay at Lake Erie
looks like he ran into a fisherman's net.
by
Dan & Rachael Burke
Ouch!
Here's another frog found in dowtown
Erie. Looks like he ran into some trouble.
 
A Fish Out of Water
Hmmm . . . How did he get here?
Looks like a A Fish Out of Water!
 
Just Walkin' in the Rain
Just Walkin' in the Rain
Patchwork Frog
Patchwork Frog
This frog is located outside the Erie Art Museum.
 
Money Hungry Frog
Money Hungry Frog
with the Golden Touch
by
Chuck Benson & Bill Lechner
Froggy Banner
There is even a radio station devoted to frogs. This is MY kind of town.
 
PHROGS Frogs PHROGS
I love frogs -- all kinds of frogs. So when I recently went back to my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, it was fun to see frogs all over the place. Here are some of the frogs I saw.
 
Friends on the Fast Track
GREEN! GREEN! GREEN!
GREEN! GREEN! GREEN!
 
Get on Your Mark
Get Set
GO!!!!!!
V-rrrrrrrrmmmmm
Get on Your Mark
Get Set
GO!!!!!!
V-rrrrrrrrmmmmm
Fast Racing Friends
David & Mike
Fast Racing Friends
David & Mike
 
Fast Friends
Angeli & Mike
Fast Friends
Angeli & Mike
 
Angeli and Mike have been good friends for many years. We met them on the racetrack at Lime Rock, Connecticut. We were drawn together from the first moment. Of course, it was our intense interest in racing and going fast that brought us to the track in the first place, as was theirs. Well, maybe I should justify that. It was my husband, David's intense interest in racing and going fast that brought us to the track. I just tagged along, cheering him from the guardrails right next to Angeli as she yelled, "GREEN! GREEN! GREEN!" into the radio as the green flag waved from the tower and the cars leaped from the starting grid and raced to Turn One right past us. This is where my heart stopped beating until every driver safely made it through the corner, sometimes going three abreast. And it didn
 
*NEW* TBI Traumatic Brain Injury - A Living Nightmare
David and granddaughters
									Treska and Kaya
									Summer of 2004
David and granddaughters
Treska and Kaya

Summer 2004
 
David on the Paragon
David on the Paragon
in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean
(Check out that balance!)
(Jared, our son, is Captain of this vessel
for the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Summer 2004
Three Generations
Three Generations of Figurski Men
I love them all!


Hank, my Father-in-Law
Jared, my Son
David, my Husband & Best Friend
This is David and his father's Santa Cruz/Taos trip the summer before the TBI.
Summer 2004
 
David and Falko, our son-in-law,
David and Falko, our son-in-law,
playing in the mud AGAIN
at Ojo Caliente.
They do it all the time.
Summer 2004
David and Kiersten
David and Kiersten
Daddy's Little Girl
all grown up!
Looks like they are
going out to dinner.

Summer 2004

 
These pictures were taken shortly before the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) that David suffered. He can see! He can balance and walk! He can talk without sounding raspy. His hand doesn't wiggle uncontrollably. He can swallow with no problem. You might say everything was pretty much normal. You might say that . . . and you would be right!

This was a pretty amazing trip that David took with his father, Hank. I was in Puebla, Mexico studying on a grant, which was awarded to me by the NEH, National Endowment for the Humanities, (You can read more about that at:) ?OLE! Mexico ?OLE! and so David thought that this would be a great opportunity for him and his Dad to go WEST to visit our children, Kiersten and Jared. I'm so glad he did because that was the last time our children saw him before the trauma.
 
Writer Friends
Welcome Meish Goldish
Welcome Meish Goldish
 
Meet MEISH GOLDISH
Writing Friend

Here's Meish -- Meish Goldish, that is. I met Meish in the early 1990s. I had just started my writing career and I wanted so much to know other writers . . . "real" writers, people who loved writing as much as I did. I was also teaching first grade and had a student teacher, Barbara Burton (Thurber). Barbara and I spent hours and hours discussing our love of teaching and my love of writing. Then one day she told me about Kelly, a friend of hers, who knew a "real" writer. "Ahh, wouldn't it be wonderful if he would come to our class and give a book talk," I mused.

So, I asked Barbara to ask Kelly to ask Meish if he would come to our class. (Sounds so highschool-ish, doesn't it, but I was scared out of my mind to call him.) But, when I finally did call him, he was so nice and I was shocked when he said he would come to do a book talk with my class. Way back then I didn't realize that writers charge a lot of money to do these visits, but Meish wouldn't take any money. He did it for the love of the craft.

I quickly ran out and bought his book titled, THE SAME BUT DIFFERENT and began reading it to my class over and over and over. It was a rhyming book and the Kiddles loved it. They loved to chime in on the last word of each couplet. "Mr. Little lived in Glome. In a cozy little _ _ _ _." (The missing word is "home," but you knew that.) Soon, the Kiddles had the book just about memorized. It became such a part of our classroom and each Kiddle wanted his very own book. So, I arranged for each to purchase a copy. What fun it was to see their proud faces when Meish gladly autographed their books for them.
 
*NEW* Strange Happenings
STRANGE!
PIERCINGS!
NOSE RING! NOSE BEAD! NOSE DOT!

They all amount to the same thing . . . a hole in your nose.

 
Puerto Penasco, Mexico
Beach Vendor 
Sharing 
His Wares.
Beach Vendor
Sharing
His Wares.
 
Fishing Boats in Bay
Fishing Boats in Bay
 
 
National Education Association - Site of the Week
 
 
I have been a teacher for . . . oh . . . a lot of years - too many to keep track of. Teaching is my first passion, besides my husband of course. Writing is my other passion. So when the National Education Association, NEA, recently acknowledged my column, TEACHER'S PETS at SmartWriters.com, I was flattered.

Of course, I am unbelievably proud of my team of reviewers -- seven children ages, 8 to 10 years old. They are amazing reviewers and have grown into this job as the years have passed. All of the KIDDLES have been members of the KIDDLE CRITers since they were 6 years old.

Each session they come prepared to work and laugh and tease and giggle, and, of course, eat. So far the KIDDLES have reviewed more than 30 books.

You can see the reviews. Just click on the Teacher/Book Reviewer tab above to read abbreviated reviews or go to SmartWriters.com to read the full review.

We hope you enjoy them.

COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY . . . AND FAMILY AND FRIENDS . . .

Congratulations on the NEA recognizing your page. Excellent! Well done! Neat! You did the hard work. You've earned the honor!
Roxyanne Young, Editor SmartWriters Journal

Congratulations! That's a great reward for all your work!
Carolyn Johnson, Internet Librarian and Educational Author

Mom! That is absolutly fantastic! You must be so proud....what an accomplishment. You deserve it!
Lots of love, Kiersten In case you didn't guess . . . That's my daughter!

That was GREAT!!! Congratulations!
I'm so happy you have received this recognition for all your hard work. "You Go Girl"!!!
Fav Cuz, Trish

WOW! Congratulations Donna. That was great. This should give you some well deserved recognition.
Hank, father-in-law

Congrats, Donna on your hard work and your award for your young publishers and critics! Keep up the good work with your students. Good luck to all of you!!
Love, Joyce, cousin

Congratulations on your recognition by the NEA. Very impressive!
Pat, brother-in-law - the youngest one

Hey, Donna!
 
*NEW* WIND RIVER Prokaryotic Biology
Now he looks like a friendly critter!
All sweet and cuddly.
Now he looks like a friendly critter!
All sweet and cuddly.
 
 




Estes Park, Colorado
 
Streets of New York City
I Love New York
									It's a city of 24/7 entertainment 
									and you never have to spend a di
I Love New York
It's a city of 24/7 entertainment
and you never have to spend a dime.
(if you don't want)
 
Everybody loves New York. There are T-shirts that proclaim it . . . tote bags, coffee mugs, and key chains that shout it. There are buttons and pens and baseball caps, baby rompers and baby booties . . . all with the New York logo advertising love of New York City. What's not to love about New York? It's alive. It's a city that never sleeps and it's in my backyard.

 
*NEW* Treska Trivia - A Slice of Life
Treska
(brimming with excitement)
This is her first visit alone.
Treska
(brimming with excitement)
This is her first visit alone.
 
Treska and Grandpa 
Grandpa, I missed you!
Treska and Grandpa
Grandpa, I missed you!
 
Treska and Grandpa
Catching up on old times.
Treska and Grandpa
Catching up on old times.
Treska with her own computer
Treska with her own computer
(right next to Grandpa's)
her connection to home
"Just ONE more email, pleeeeaaassseeee!"
 
Visiting Granny and Grandpa is so much fun. It's a trip! Actually it was a trip from New Mexico to New Jersey.

Treska boarded a plane in Denver, Colorado for a four and a half hour flight. Of course, it was delayed both on the ground and in the air, so it took a lot longer. When she finally arrived at Newark Liberty Airport I met her at the gate. I couldn't believe she was here and I was going to have her visit "all by herself" for two weeks. YEAH!!!! Her mom and dad and sister, Kaya, would come later.
 
Home
 
Donna O'Donnell Figurski
									Author, Teacher, & Book Reviewer
Donna O'Donnell Figurski
Author, Teacher, & Book Reviewer
 

DONNA O'DONNELL FIGURSKI,
children’s book writer, discovered writing for children during a writer’s course at Teacher’s College of Columbia University in New York City. Ever since, she has been writing in one form or another.

For the past year Donna has been working as a children's book reviewer. Her reviews can be seen in her column called TEACHER'S PETS at SmartWriters.com. These reviews take an interesting twist. Check out the section called Teacher/Book Reviewer to learn more.
 
Link to Important Sites
Welcome to my Links page.
 
MASTER TABLE CODE - DO NOT DELETE
TITLE HERE

 
Weather
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NORTH CAROLINA in the MOUNTAINS
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ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
 
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CALIFORNIA my heart's desire
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NEW YORK the City That Never Sleeps
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NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
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Clip Art Credits
Clip Art courtesy of http://www.graphicmaps.com/clipart.htm
 
Flowers Around the World

Flowers . . . pink, yellow, blue . . .flwr0014


flwr0041

         so pretty to look at
                      
                        so sweet to smell

                       purple and
                       
                                                    flwr0013orange and

                                                           red and green

                         and pink and yellow and blue!  
    
 
Niagara Falls
Enter Niagara Falls content here.
 
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