Fifth Grade Discusses Writing, History with Author

Fifth grade teacher Nina Hernandez and her students have been conversing over FaceTime with Washington author Peggy King Anderson about her historical novel, Two-Moon Journey. Some of the students and Ms. Anderson took the time to write about their experience participating in the conversations, and we are delighted to feature their thoughts and insights here.

My Take: FaceTime Chats on Two-Moon Journey

By Peggy King Anderson

What fun to share with Gregory School fifth graders, via FaceTime chat. I get to be in their classroom, and they get to be with me right here in my living room. We have our own private in-home book club!

We’re discussing my most recently published book, Two-Moon Journey, which truly is a book of my heart, based as it is on my husband’s Potawatomi heritage. The book takes students on an 1838 forced march across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas as they learn about the Potawatomi Trail of Death.

These amazing students have been peppering me with questions, getting right to the heart of the book: “How did you decide which characters to use to tell your story?”
“What inspired you to write this book?”
“How did the geography of their homeland affect this story?”
“What natural resources did the Potawatomi notice and use on their journey, in order to survive?”

Under the direction of their amazing teacher, Nina Hernandez, they are also on a writing journey, pursuing effective writing skills. They are making me think as we discuss the writing techniques I use to get across the story I want to tell. We’ve talked about writing voice, and how that affects every aspect of the story, including characters and narration. We’ve discussed target audience for the book, and how that impacted my purpose both to entertain and to inform in the story.

These FaceTime chats have been so much fun, I’ve shared them with Teresa Baer, my editor at Indiana Historical Society Press. She is excited about the possibility of promoting FaceTime chats in other classrooms, particularly in the Midwest, where the Trail of Death took place.

Thank you, Nina Hernandez and the 5th graders at The Gregory School, for opening up a whole new way for me to interact with students all over the United States!

Author of Two-Moon Journey Mentors 5th Grade Writers

By Grady Jordan-Nowe, Eli Orbach, Kaya Tomizuka

The 5th grade class has been learning more about writing with Peggy Anderson, a resident of the wonderful state of Washington and the author of Two-Moon Journey. Her book follows the main character, Simu-quah’s journey on the Potawatomi Trail of Death. One of the best parts about the book is that many of the landmarks in it, actually exist! We’ve been able to ask her questions about the book. (Eli Orbach)

After our experience with Mrs. Anderson, we looked at writing in a different way and now think of writing as an art.

Sebastian Saavedra '27

Through FaceTime, Mrs. Anderson has visited with the 5th grade class to talk about writing her book and her experience on the Trail of Death. Mrs. Anderson is also a great primary source of information on the Native American cultural regions and the Indian Removal Act. Because she wrote the book we are reading, she can give us first hand information about the Trail of Death. It has been a great opportunity to be able to get information directly from the author. (Kaya Tomizuka)

Our mentor author is helping the class to think more like a writer. Mrs. Anderson recommends journaling for at least 10 minutes every day. That way, you can experiment with new styles of writing and figure out what’s right for you. Another way to think more like a writer, is to think more about your audience and try to get them to be part of the story. She got her ideas from real journals and put in real characters from those journals. Overall, we learned valuable information about being an author and she really inspired us to be better writers. (Grady Jordan-Nowe)

Eli Orbach
Grady Jordan-Nowe
Sebastian Saavedra
Kaya Tomizuka
"I treasure the opportunity to teach fifth grade, our youngest group of students, in a creative and exhilarating environment. The Gregory School provides a unique arena where divergent ideas are encouraged and learning is personalized to each student's talents, passions and interests. It is within this arena that our students provide the spark that ignites my enthusiasm and joy for teaching."
Nina Hernandez, B.A.
Nina Hernandez graduated from Fort Lewis College and has been teaching fifth grade at The Gregory School since 2016.

3231 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson, AZ 85712
Phone: (520) 327-6395
Fax: (520) 327-8276
The Gregory School is an independent, private,
non-profit 501(C)(3), coed day school for grades 5-12.