James M Deem writes:
Hello, BBIS Students! I spent a wonderful day talking with you about research and writing.
Grade 6, I spoke about my process for researching and writing my book, Bodies from the Ash. I described how I became interested in Pompeii as a child and the steps I used to research the eruption of Vesuvius and and destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii. I explained how, by producing plaster casts of the victims in Pompeii, scientists were able to help historians determine what ancient Romans looked like, what their hairstyles were, and even what clothes and shoes they wore. And by studying the damage on the skeletons, scientists were also able to help historians understand how residents of Herculaneum died during the first surge of the eruption.
I also presented some questionable stories told by well-meaning archaeologists about some of the plaster casts in order to show that critical thinking skills are always necessary.
Grades 9-11, I talked in more detail about researching and writing. I explained how I researched and wrote my book, Faces From the Past. I outlined my research process and shared one of the stories I told in the book, that of Thomas Smith, a Buffalo Soldier whose remains were desecrated by a graverobber. I explained a few ethical dilemmas that I faced in writing the book and how I resolved them.
Then I discussed my book The Prisoners of Breendonk in terms of narrowing a topic). I introduced you to Israel Neumann, a prisoner at the camp and explained how one prisoner or a group of prisoners could serve as a focus for a research paper.
Finally, I talked about the importance of asking questions when researching, even when you are not sure that someone knows the answer. An unexpected answer to one question can provide you with a wealth of information!
I want to thank your teachers and administrators and especially your wonderful librarian, Goldie Abaee.