Berlin Brandenburg International School

Kleinmachnow, Germany

The heart of Saanen, Switzerland

Hello, BBIS Students! 

I spent a wonderful day talking with you about research and writing.

I spoke to Grade 6 about my process for researching and writing my book, Bodies from the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii. I described how I became interested in Pompeii as a cjhild 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 evn 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. Finally, I discussed how I find the photographs for my book--and how expensive they can be!

Then you asked some great questions!

For 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: Forgotten People of North America). I first came across the reconstructed face of Yde Girl as I researched my book, Bodies From the Bog. The idea of writing about facial reconstruction incubated in my brain for ten years before I decided to follow through.

I outlined my research process, from outlining the general order of my book, using main headings or topics and then filling in information as I research, and making sure to use quotations when I am quoting from a source. I also attempt to find multiple sources for each topic to make sure that my information is as correct as possible. Finally, I leave plenty of time for revision and rewriting.

I 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: Personal Histories From a World War II Concentration Camp and how you might narrow your topic so that you could write about a concentration camp (something that can't be covered well in a shorter paper). 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.

Good luck with your research and writing!