Monday, October 25, 2010

School Visits

I'm so excited to have been invited to my local elementary school to talk to the third grade this spring.  As some of you know, I have two books on the solar system and one about the discovery of America coming out in January (click here for more info).

As excited as I am, my main goal is to make sure my presentations are interesting for the kids.  So in preparation for working on my presentation, I googled (what else?) "Tips on School Visits."  And I found a great resource!

School Visit Experts

This website has some great outlines, tips, and suggestions from people who have spent years presenting to kids.  I'm so grateful for the site!

I'm working on visual aids as well as an auditory presentation.  I'm planning on talking about the writing process.  I might put together a power point presentation, but I'm not sure.

The following notes I took from the website

Presentation Length: 30 minutes
The Focus: How a nonfiction book gets published (for me, from assignment to finished product). 
The Sub-focus: How to research and put facts together to make an interesting book for readers.
Big-Picture Audience Take-Away: To learn about how a book gets published from beginning to end.
Table props to make the presentation 3-D: 
  • Stack of books used for research; binders with materials (1st drafts, writer’s guidelines, etc.
  • Music -- Maybe, maybe not—not sure yet
  • Possible Images for visual (power point) presentation
    • Writer’s guidelines
    • Screen shots of the final .pdf
    • Websites used for research
    • My office/workspace
    • The cubicle in the library where I write sometimes
 Classroom Connection
  • Before my visit
    • Ask the teachers and/or librarian to make the books available for the kids to preview prior to the event.
    • Encourage the teachers to have kids share stories, draw pictures or share photos of their favorite nonfiction topic (animals, space, nature).
  • After my visit
    • Invite kids to write letters, telling about their favorite part of the presentation, what tips they learned, or share a story they want to write. 
    • Leave behind a bibliography of picture books – both nonfiction and fiction. 
Other ideas: 
  • Create question cards that kids can choose out of a hat—brainstorm possible questions just in case they get stumped.
  • Think of the presentation in the same way you approach a book:  including plot, character, conflict, dialogue.  You do not have to be a standup comedian or even a polished public speaker.  It does help tremendously if you have a “story” to tell your audience that includes information about your latest work, your total body of work, your “themes”, the struggles you encountered on your way to becoming a published author.  The audience likes to know an appropriate amount about you as a person – past as well as present. (**I feel like this is the most important takeaway from the site.) 
  • ·         avoid plagiarism
  • ·         do research
  • ·         take notes
  • ·         construct a bibliography
  • ·         paraphrase
  • ·         distinguish a reliable source of information from an unreliable one
Thanks to the great bloggers at for the above tips.


Laura Pauling said...

Great tips! And how exciting! Good thing you have all winter to get ready. :)

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Great resource! And thanks for sharing with us.

I just went to a conference this weekend and school visits were a subject. Here's a page from one of the panelists. I especially like the end where she talks about interacting with kids specifically. Just in case you want to check it out!

This is so cool, Kris. So excited for you.

Kris said...

Thanks Laura!

Tina -- Thanks for the link! "Underpants!" ::snort::

MT said...

Hey, you found a gold mine of info! I'm happy you've got some school visits scheduled. What an exciting time. Good luck!

Elana Johnson said...

Awesome! I don't have any school visits booked yet--and frankly they terrify me. I can't wait to check this out.

Kris said...

Thanks MT and Elana! I'll certainly keep you all posted. I think I'll be going into a second grade classroom in a couple of weeks for a trial run...