Wednesday, January 22, 2020

School Visits and Conferences

I am not currently booking in-person school visits. But I do Skype with classrooms for a small fee.

I am, however, speaking at conferences for grown ups.

For conference information, click here:


(I used to visit schools nationwide, speaking to about 17,000 students each year. These educators shared their wisdom with me and you will find many of their wonderful activities donated on this site.)

What educators are saying…

“Thank you again for such a wonderful visit to Monroe Elementary. I’ve been having authors and illustrators in for a long time, and your visit really stands out. The teachers are still talking about how great your presentation was. You made me look really good, since I booked you!”
-Brenda Gehm, Librarian, Monroe, OH

School Talk Reviews
Kids\' Talk Reviews
School visit fees

Wild Words: Writing Inspired By Wild Adventures
Length: 35 to 50 minutes

I have versions for this talk for every grade level and I vary it every year with new video and anecdotes from my current books and adventures. Time permitting and according to the audience’s interests and grade level, I do the following:
  • Share some of the content that inspires my work: experiences in rain forests and with creatures closer to home
  • Introduce what I call word joy (word choice, fluency, rhythm, rhyme, and the pleasure of puzzling with words)
  • Touch on my writing process and the aspects of quality writing (in some schools called 6 plus traits)
  • Share my revision process and show actual manuscripts with comments on them
  • Teach specific techniques that make nonfiction writing more powerful:
    • revising for specific facts
    • revising for sensory detail
    • revising for metaphor
  • Share sounds I have recorded in rain forests as a way of learning to describe and add sensory depth to material
  • Answer questions about the writing process, the life of a writer, the business of writing, and other writing topics. I am frank in my responses to children about the joys and challenges of writing as a career. I consider answering questions to be one of the most important aspects of my job. Unlike T.V., I am interactive and respond to the curiosity of the audience.
For the very youngest students, pre-K, I briefly talk about what an author does and the differences between fiction and nonfiction. We talk about words, rhythm, rhyme, and the pleasures of reading and writing. For them I do not go in depth with the writing processes above. I read texts of my recent picture books. We do several activities for these youngsters. I introduce them to sounds. For the very youngest students, this talk may last 35 minutes but usually it is 45 minutes.

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