I really wasn’t planning on blogging again about the Downsview Public Library residency, but after what happened yesterday, the last day of the residency, I simply can’t resist.

I did the last two workshops with the kids yesterday. At 1 pm, we did the writing workshop. I’d begun with an imaginative scenario that the kids basically brainstormed under my guidance into a nifty little story. Yesterday we did the conclusion of it.

Oh it was fun!

And the kids were yelling out suggestions, and two of the parents were sitting on the side, just watching, and smiling, I think, though I didn’t really look over at them. But you know how you get the ‘feeling’ that someone in the room is smiling? Well yeah, that.

And then at 2 pm, we began the finale of the public speaking workshops, it was the COMPETITION!

I always like to end the children’s public speaking workshop with a competition. Because all this time that they’ve been learning the skills I’ve been teaching, they need to enact them within a scenario that actually does have some pressure involved. There needs to be something at stake.

What was at stake was a prize for the best speaker. They could choose any of my books. (I had previously offered them a choice between books and candy and they’d opted for having one of my books as a prize.)

In the end though I did buy some candy as well, as sort of consolation prizes, just for participating.

Well did I mention that at the beginning of the workshops there were a couple of girls in particular who were painfully shy!

I’m not talking about the one who was dragged in there by her mom and eventually asked to come on her own. These were two girls who were brought by their parents and both of them wrote me testimonials saying how public speaking would make them cry (one of them said the mere thought of having to give a speech would make her cry for days!!!).

I always mark the children on three aspects of their presentation. First is the story. Did they choose a good story that was appealing, that made sense and was fun to listen to? Second is technique. How did they tell the story? Did they incorporate the techniques I’d taught them? Had they been engaging? And thirdly is how good an audience they were being when the others were telling their story. Are they listening respectfully? Each is of equal weight and I always tell them the easiest marks to get are for listening!

Guess who won???

I had originally vowed to have only one winner, but the problem was in terms of marks, three of the girls were tied with perfect scores. I really couldn’t find anything sufficiently wrong with anything they did to deduct any marks! (And I’m not the kind of anal sort who won’t give a perfect score!) I also can’t help but take into consideration where the kids were when we began the process. So there it was between three girls.

And then I did something kind of interesting. I asked the audience who they thought won, and sure enough it was unanimous, one of the shyest girls I just mentioned won, the same girl I was leaning towards. They all thought so. She was just a titch better than the other two, even though they all had perfect scores.

And because the other two with the perfect scores were honest enough to put their hands up in unison to say that the shy girl had won, I thought I just had to let them choose a book too!

So long and the short of it is, that two of the shyest girls were among the winners!


It’s so humbling and amazing to see such a phenomenon! I never would have pegged either of them to have improved so much!

And I told them so. Basically I told both of them, “… I am so proud of the way you’ve improved! Look at you! Good job!”

And you should have seen the way they smiled.

They practically preened!

And then it was a total surprise because one of the mothers of one of the kids in the program gave me such a lovely gift! And two beautiful cards thanking me for helping her son and wishing me a wonderful holiday season.

Subhan Allah!