SCHOOL VISITS — THAT’S MY THANG!
I just needed to get that out of the way.
I want to visit your school. In 2013-2014, I am visiting schools all over the country — New Jersey, Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Maryland, California, Virginia and New York! Going around to schools all over the country (and now the world) is my absolute favorite part of being an author. How could it not be? Check out this one greeting from a few years back in Waterford, Ohio!
For my school visits, I offer two different types of presentations:
Grades K-12: Standard Author Visit
Using my own books as models, I demonstrate how picture books and chapter books are created. I trace the life of a text from idea to publication, sharing rough drafts, thumbnail sketches, editorial letters, sample layouts and corrected proofs. I also celebrate the illustrations, focusing on the process and drawing parallels between the work of the author and the illustrator. Throughout the presentation, I stress the importance of reading, and in a variety of ways, I drive home the message that reading is the key to writing.
My presentations are structured and designed consistent with the Common Core State Standards. Specifically, they touch upon concepts and themes from the following: English Language Arts (ELA) Listening Standards; the ELA Reading Standards for Literature; the ELA Reading Standards, Foundational Skills; Readings Standards for Information Text; Writing Standards; and Language Standards.
A standard full-day school visit consists of three (3) presentations. Each presentation lasts about 45-50 minutes. There are no restrictions on the number of students that may attend each session. In addition to the three (3) presentations, if the school wishes, I will gladly have lunch with a small group of students. No more than 12-15 students should attend the lunch. The lunch lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Grades 3-7, Writing Camps
In addition to the standard author visit, I also do “Writing Camps.” Lindsay Jones, a Texas school librarian and a great friend, came up with the concept.
“Writing camps” are workshops.
In these workshops, as with my standard author visit presentations, I repeatedly stress the importance of reading in all forms. I book talk texts from a variety of genres, which leads into a discussion on generating ideas. I use my elementary school writer’s journal as well as my own books to demonstrate that ideas come from all places.
Next, we discuss the importance of editing. By showing hard copies of edited picture book and chapter book manuscripts, I drive home the notion that “the real writing takes place during the re-writing.”
From there, we turn our focus to “seed ideas.” I lead the students through a series of “exploding the moment” exercises. We focus on descriptive language and using our five senses in our writing. In the process, I provide tips and suggestions about planning, outlining and organizing.
Like my standard author visit presentations, my writing camps are structured and designed consistent with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Specifically, they touch upon concepts and themes from the following: English Language Arts (ELA) Listening Standards; the ELA Reading Standards for Literature; the ELA Reading Standards, Foundational Skills; Reading Standards for Information Text; Writing Standards; and Language Standards. In addition, for students in grades 3-5, my writing camps address skills assessed on individual state writing examinations.
During a full-day visit, I lead three (3) writing camps. Each workshop lasts about 50 minutes. Because of the nature of the program, no more than sixty (60) students may attend each session. Students must bring paper or notebook and something to write with to the workshop. Classroom teachers in charge of providing reading and writing instruction to the students MUST attend these sessions.
In addition to the three writing camps, if the school desires, I will gladly have lunch with a small group of students. No more than 12-15 students should attend the lunch. The lunch lasts approximately 30 minutes.