5th grade students working at computers

Learning Unit: Prep for Author Visit – Eileen Christelow

LU Title: Preparing for Author Visits: Get Acquainted
Author(s): Susan A. Jacobs
Grade Level: Fifth
School: Grant C. Madill Elementary

Learning Context

Purpose or Focus of Experience:
The purpose of this Learning Experience is to allow the students to become fully knowledgeable about an author prior to having the author visit and present at school.

Connection to NYS Standards:

English Language Arts:

  • Standard 1: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.
    • Reading: Read from informational texts such as age-appropriate online and electronic databases and websites. Listen and read to collect and interpret data, facts, and ideas.
  • Standard 2: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for literary response and expression.
    • Reading: Read, view, and interpret imaginative texts and performances, such as short stories and poems. Identify ways in which characters change and develop throughout a story.
    • Reading and Listening: Compare characters in literature to people in their own lives. Recognize that the same story can be told in different genres.
  • Standard 3: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.
    • Reading: Analyze and evaluate information, ideas, opinions, themes, and experiences from books and electronic resources.
    • Listening: Recognize how one’s point of view contributes to forming an opinion about information and ideas.
    • Writing: Write persuasive texts and book reviews to analyze and evaluate ideas, information, themes, and experiences.
  • Standard 4: Students will read, write, listen, and speak for social interaction.
    • Writing: Write to establish, maintain, and enhance personal relationships through friendly electronic messages (e-mail).


  • Standard 5: Students will apply technological knowledge and skills to design, construct, use, and evaluate products and systems to satisfy human and environmental needs.
    • Use computers as tools for design, modeling, information processing, communication, and system control.

Essential Questions:

  • What can I discover about author and illustrator Eileen Christelow?
  • How do anthropomorphic characters enhance Eileen Christelow’s picture books?
  • Can there always be two sides to a story? Can I explore the world of story adaptations?

Content Knowledge:

  • Declarative:
    • Author
    • Illustrator
    • Characteristics of Eileen Christelow as an author and illustrator
    • Anthropomorphic
  • Procedural:
    • Connect and read information from a website and gather notes from this reference.
    • Read a picture book and construct support for a story from a different point of view.
    • Write an introduction for a building guest and present this orally.


  1. Research and Preparation:
    • Students worked in pairs in the computer lab to connect to Eileen Christelow’s website (christelow.com) to learn about her school program and background. Information was printed for reference.
  2. Listening and Discussion:
    • Students listened to “What Do Authors Do?” and “What Do Illustrators Do?” to better understand the roles of authors and illustrators.
    • Read “Jerome Camps Out” and discussed character handling of problems, bullying, and perspective-taking. Students wrote a story adaptation from the bully’s point of view, “Jerome Camps Out—Buster’s Side,” and prepared final copies on a word processor.
  3. Door Decoration:
    • Students decorated the classroom door for Eileen Christelow’s visit, aligning with their story adaptation.
  4. Introduction Writing:
    • Students wrote and presented introductions for Eileen Christelow using information from the website. The top two introductions were selected for presentation at assemblies during her visit.

Instructional/Environmental Modifications

  • Pair Work: Limited number of computers required pairing.
  • Adaptation: Reading levels varied from 2nd through 4th grade, but activities were adaptable.

Time Required

  • Duration: 6 – 40 minute class periods


  • christelow.com (Computers with internet access required)
  • “What Do Authors Do?” by Eileen Christelow
  • “What Do Illustrators Do?” by Eileen Christelow
  • “Jerome Camps Out” by Eileen Christelow

Assessment Plan

  • Writing Rubric:
4Strong sequencing, introduction, similarities, differences, closing paragraph, insight, correct spelling and punctuation
3Average sequencing, introduction, similarities, differences, closing paragraph, surface comparisons, minor errors
2Weak sequencing, introduction, one paragraph with minimal comparisons, weak closing, many errors
1No sequencing, introduction, one paragraph with minimal comparisons, no closing, excessive errors
  • Oral Presentation:
    • Brief welcome
    • 2 pieces of factual information on Eileen Christelow
    • Background on “What Authors Do”
    • Open-ended conclusion leading to Eileen’s presentation


Eileen Christelow’s visit was an opportunity for fifth graders to engage in technology, writing, and art in preparation for her visit. Activities such as writing emails, decorating the classroom door, and researching online enhanced their interest and understanding of the author’s work. Collaborating with the art teacher for a door decoration project added a creative touch to the learning experience.