School Visits

    I want to visit YOUR school!

    Each year, I visit dozens and dozens of schools all over the world. This year alone, I visited schools in New Jersey, Texas, New York, South Carolina, Maryland, and even Istanbul, Turkey!

    My school visits consist of three presentations (45-50 minutes in length), book signing, and lunch with students. Different types of presentations are offered:

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    General Presentation

    •Available to students in grades K-12.
    •No restrictions/limits on the number of students that may attend each session.
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    My general author presentation combines my experiences as a teacher and a writer.

    We begin by talking about what it means to put our name on something – the cover of a book, a homework assignment, a letter, a permission slip. We explore the concept of “your name is your word.”

    Next, we discuss ideas. Where do we get our ideas? What inspires us? From there, I talk about my life as an author. I share my second grade writing journal and other early writing samples.

    Our next conversation is about the importance of process. Using one of my latest books (A Whole New Ball Game, Marvelous Cornelius, The Soccer Fence), we discuss drafting, editing, revising, and publishing. I share hard copies of editorial letters, rough drafts, and edited manuscripts. We draw parallels between what I do as a writer and what students do in school. Throughout this section of the presentation, I reinforce the notion that “the real writing takes place during the rewriting.”

    Because many students are visual learners and love drawing and painting, it’s important that we celebrate the work of the illustrators. That’s what we do next. We make connections between the illustrator’s process, the author’s process, and the student’s writing process. To demonstrate this, I share thumbnails, sketches, sample layouts, and uncorrected proofs.

    Next, we discuss the importance of reading. I share specific examples of why everyone must read and that our reading lives matter. Since it’s critical that students see authors not just as writers, but as readers as well, I share recent titles I’ve read. I book talk texts from a variety of genres and explain how books teach us about empathy and why it’s vital that we see ourselves in books.

    The presentation concludes with a question and answer session.

    Writing Camp

    •Available to students in grades 3-7.
    •Maximum of sixty (60) students per session.

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    My “writing camp” presentations are writing workshops. I created them with Lindsay Jones, a wonderful Texas school librarian, who was also a great friend.

    The writing camp begins with a discussion about ideas. Where do we get our ideas? What inspires us? From there, I talk about my life as an author. I share my second grade writing journal and other early writing samples.

    Next, I provide a series of basic writing tips. Many are similar or identical to what teachers are sharing in the classroom.
    From there, we turn our attention to the writing process. Using one of my latest books (A Whole New Ball Game, Marvelous Cornelius, The Soccer Fence), we discuss drafting, editing, revising, and publishing. I share hard copies of editorial letters, rough drafts, and edited manuscripts. We draw parallels between what I do as a writer and what students do in school. Throughout this portion of the presentation, I reinforce the notion that “the real writing takes place during the rewriting.”

    That leads to a discussion about “seed ideas” and small moments. We talk about “exploding the moment” and making these seed ideas come to life by adding details. I then lead the students through a series of “exploding the moment” exercises, focusing on descriptive language and using our senses.

    Then we discuss the concept of “show, don’t tell.” Students learn the difference between showing and telling by picturing movies in their minds.

    Through a series of individual and group exercises, and by using real world examples, student-driven examples, and examples from my books, discover how their writing can come alive.

    Next, we discuss the importance of reading. I share specific examples of why everyone must read and that our reading lives matter. Since it’s important that students see authors not just as writers, but as readers as well, I share recent titles I’ve read. I book talk texts from a variety of genres and explain how books teach us about empathy and why it’s vital that we see ourselves in books.

    The writing camp concludes with a question and answer session.

    Book Sales

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    While I do not require schools to coordinate book sales prior to my visit, I strongly encourage schools to do so. If possible, please arrange book sales through a local vendor or independent bookstore. Book sale coordination takes a great deal of time. Most schools start this process several MONTHS in advance of my visit.

    While at the school, I will gladly personalize and sign all of my books (purchased books, school library copies, personal copies brought from home).

    For the 2015-16 school year, my featured titles are A Whole New Ball Game, Marvelous Cornelius, The Soccer Fence, Twenty-One Elephants, The Greatest Game Ever Played. Please make these books available for purchase.

    Request a School Visit:

    If you would like for me to visit your school, please fill out the following form:

    Contact Person and Title (required)

    Contact Email (required)

    Phone (required)

    School Name and Address

    Age Range of Students

    Approximate Number of Students

    Requested Dates (Please provide several dates)

    Visit Type

    Lunchroom Hangout Included?
     Yes, include Lunchroom Hangout

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    Alternatively, for more details and information regarding my school visits, contact Jean Dayton at Dayton Bookings.

    Additional Important Information

    • Students may only attend ONE presentation. If a school opts to have both general presentations and writing camp presentations, students may only attend one, NOT both.
    • For the writing camp presentation, teachers charged with providing reading and writing instruction MUST attend these sessions. In addition, students are required to bring paper/notebook and pen/pencil.
    • Half day school visits are available but ONLY when the school visit day is split with another school from the district or area. Half day school visits consist of two presentations (45-50 minutes in length) and book signing.
    • If a school wishes, I will gladly have a thirty (30) minute lunch with a small group of students (no more than 12-15). This option is only available during full day visits.

     How to Greet an Author!

    Check out this amazing greeting from a school visit I did some years back.

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