Students gain literacy skillls

by: REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - When Canadian author Kari-Lynn Winters asked Oak Creek Elementary students what an index is at her recent guest writing workshop at the school, first-grader Mason Klein said an index reveals what pages a subject such as thorax can be found on in a book. Wearing a knit chicken hat over bee antennae, Kari-Lynn Winters of Canada used puppets, props, skits and question-and-answer sessions to focus Oak Creek Elementary School students on writing lessons last week.

Winters, an award-winning author of children’s books, stood in the center of a semicircle of large tables at which sat dozens of Oak Creek students perched on little chairs. A projector beamed massive images of text behind Winters.

“Do any of you know what a table of contents is?” asked Winters, also assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Brock University in St. Catharines, REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Canadian author Kari-Lynn Winters poses with her puppet, Sloth, from her book, Jeffrey and Sloth. For her presentation to Oak Creek, Winters wore bee antennae and a chicken hat.

Oak Creek second-grader Audrey Laborie raised her hand, and Winters advanced, a microphone in hand, so the other students and school staff could hear.

“If you’re reading a book and you’re reading more than one chapter, then you can find it in the table of contents,” Audrey said. “It shows you different parts” of the book.

The visit was Winters’ first in Lake Oswego, although she has been to Portland schools before.

Oak Creek first- and second-grade teacher Susan Wolf organized the visit. Winters regularly forays into schools to offer instruction that focuses in particular on Common Core State Standards, a new curriculum to be fully implemented next school year in most areas of the United States. Common Core focuses on literacy through informational texts such as manuals and applications.

“Susan Wolf is amazing,” Oak Creek Elementary School Principal Lilian Sarlos said.

Wolf said the teachers appreciated how Winters “tied her presentation to Common Core standards in a meaningful way” and that she liked how the author told the children that when it comes to writing, “they are the boss” and can write anything they choose.

"After her visit, (teachers) shared her ideas with each other, and discussed ways to implement them into our classroom writing lessons," Wolf said.

Learn more

For more information about Kari-Lynn Winters, visit

Jillian Daley can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @jilliandaley.

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