5th graders present VTS to school board


Thanks to the 5th graders and their teachers for presenting  content VTS to the RSU74 School Board.  As I told the teachers in the staff workshop and then  the  students in three schools  that VTS is a  pre -reading, vocabulary,  conversation  based  strategy that works across  the  curriculum. All you need to get started is a picture and three questions !




























Trees..around the World

As I read about Jadav  Molai Payeng and his work in India  planting trees http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2016/0616/This-tribesman-planted-a-forest-in-India-that-s-bigger-than-Central-Park  I thought about the other tree stories I have shared and a few new ones I am just learning about. We could learn  and teach a lot of our world through the tree stories of Wangari Matthai. Kate Sessions, Anne Frank and  The Little Bonsai from Hiroshima. If you have other book suggestions let me know!





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I Spy to Interactive Magic!

I spent many hours with teachers and students this year  as they walked around their classroom and libraries asking and answering questions as they looked for  more details in the original  Talking Walls illustrations . Tara Bryant, the librarian at Geiger School, participated in twelve of my workshops and sent me this message about my work.
 ” Interactive magic, that is what I would call it! You combine all the different aspects of books:  reading, writing, story telling, art, perspective and history all in a 40 minute period. The students walk away with a lot of information all with comprehension and without getting “antsy.”
The children are blown away and proud of what they have learned. Some were saying that they were going to go home that night and ask their parents if they new Nelson Mandela, or that you can see the Great Wall of China from outer space!
It is a sense of understanding art in books in a whole new way. I will never read a story the same. As a librarian I will take what I have learned from you and engage students and set a focus not only on the story but how the pictures are telling the story as well. I will ask the questions… “What do you see? What is happening?”  Students will be able to tell the story before it is even read! “I think ________, because _______” will be a wonderful tool to help students back up what they are learning.
 As an educator this program is extremely beneficial and essential for all ages. I recommend Margy to help teachers learn “Interactive Magic” and the reason I describe it that way is because it captivates all who are in her presence. It isn’t just sitting and listening, its about hands on, eyes on, voice on, and mind on! It is not easy to grab the attention of youngsters these days but I witnessed first hand a new and innovative way to teach our youth the importance of non-fiction, story telling, reading, and the importance of art.”
Tara Bryant
Geiger School
Thank you Tara!

Thank you teachers!

Thanks to the teachers who participated in my  I Spy workshop at the Barbara Bush Literacy Conference at Thomas College. It was great for me to have  ample time not only to introduce the strategies, but also have time for everyone to practice an I Spy and then  begin to create their own I Spy…..talk all about it activity.




Talk About It/I Spy at Maine Literacy Connections Conference

I will present  the  Talk About It/ I Spy Workshop on March 31st at Thomas College



Using the original Talking Walls illustrations Margy will demonstrate a Talk About It/I Spy Scavenger Hunt that is not only a great classroom and Family Literacy activity, but can be easily replicated with other visuals, illustrations, family photos or student art.


Margy will take the participants on the I Spy Scavenger Hunt so they can practice how to create and incorporate listening, conversation and questions strategies that supports comprehension and close reading.



Talking Walls at UMF



Anne Sibley O’Brien

Original Illustrations





January 13th – February 8th

11:00am – 6:00pm

Emery Community Arts Center University of Maine Farmington

Opening Reception January 13th 5:00pm-7:00pm

Doug Rawlings, co-founder of Veterans for Peace , http://www.veteransforpeace.org/ , will read his poem, The Wall, the inspiration for the book about twenty- six walls around the world and the stories they tell.


About Margy’s books and Discover Your World blog

Welcome to the 2017/18 school year. I continue to be so inspired by the VTS  protocol and have had great fun introducing, practicing  and talking about this very pliable discussion based teaching and learning strategy.  Teachers have realized that  Content VTS can include all four domains of language learning and  is an effective strategy across the curriculum.http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/visual-thinking-strategies-improved-comprehension

I started this blog for teachers to let them know about my work and  my school visits. I also share articles, lesson ideas and other books that relate to the themes of my books and my  Who’s That  Lady? project. If you want to know more about  my work including school visits scroll down past recent posts and archives and look for categories  Contact me at margyburnsknight@gmail.com

People have been using  and building  walls for years. Talking Walls Discover Your World introduces readers to places and cultures by talking-walls-discover-your-worldexploring the stories of walls around the world.

Meet a loyal dog from Japan, a poet from Chile  and an artist from Mexico. Visit the Great Wall of China, the Lascaux Caves of France and Great Zimbabwe.

Talking Walls: Discover Your World




who belongs here



Who Belongs Here? tells the story of Nary, a young boy fleeing war-torn Cambodia for the safety of the United States. To some of his new classmates, however, he is a “chink” who should go back where he belongs. But what if everyone whose family came from another place was forced  to return to his or her homeland? Who would be left? This story teaches compassion for recent immigrants while sharing the history of immigration in America and some of the important contributions made by past immigrants.



Welcoming Babies is a vibrant and tender celebration of life and diversity. As children and adults explore the welcoming of babies from all over the world they can share stories of their own welcoming , traditions and culture.

Africa _Africa Is Not A Country enters into the daily life of children in many countries of modern Africa. Countering stereotypes the book celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the vibrant continent at experienced by children at home, at school, at work and at play.


All about illustrator Anne Sibley O’Brien http://www.annesibleyobrien.com











Maria’s Shoes is a true and timeless story from a Roots of Empathy http://www.rootsofempathy.org/classroom. Maria is bullied about her shoes being “unfashionable,” and her friend desperately wants to help but doesn’t know how. When we see injustice, empathy — the ability to identify with another person’s feelings — can empower us to take action to help others. The friend’s empathy and moral courage result in a lesson that all of the children in the playground learn — we are all capable of standing up against injustice and helping people to feel less alone.