Author Topic: Speaking at schools  (Read 261 times)

munboy

Speaking at schools
« on: January 29, 2019, 04:25:45 PM »
I've sat on panels, taught classes, and gave a presentation with an author friend of mine to high schoolers....one thing I haven't done is present to elementary grade kids. That's about to change. I was asked to read a little from my middle grade book and talk a little bit about what it's like being an author to a few classes of 10-11 year olds.

Any suggestions to keep things lively. I plan on talking a little bit about building a story and how kids make up stories all the time when they're playing. I was also thinking about take suggestions from the kids in attendance to build a story with them. Anybody got any other ideas I could do?
 

Simon Haynes

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 08:54:15 PM »
I've spoken to classes in that age group quite a bit, and they always seem to enjoy hair-raising anecdotes from my own childhood.
 
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notthatamanda

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 09:33:48 PM »
I've spoken to classes in that age group quite a bit, and they always seem to enjoy hair-raising anecdotes from my own childhood.

This is what Jack Gantos did when I saw him speak at my kid's middle school.  They like funny, and real.  He explained what in his book was taken from his own experiences, what was embellished, and what he made up and why.

My own experience (I'm in the elementary school once a week at least) present them with something obviously wrong and give them a chance to react.

EG - Before vacation, when they are leaving the library, I'll say something like "You guys are all going to really miss school over the four day weekend right?"  Response "NOOOOOO!"

Keep them awake by polling them.  Story about baseball - "Who likes baseball, raise your hand."

Age matters.  For surprise reader I did "Who's on First?" for second grade, it was a huge hit.  I did it for kindergarten couple of years later and got nothing but confused looks, only one little boy got it, he was rolling on the floor laughing, but the rest were deer in headlights.

Good luck and I hope you have a blast.


 
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Vijaya

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2019, 07:29:06 AM »
This age is really fun, Munboy. They love story and write with abandon if you can get them going. One year I did regular writing workshops with a bunch of 5th graders and we all had a blast. They enjoy stories about how you became a writer, any weird and wonderful things (great for nonfiction), and even revisions. As others have said before me, keep it real and fun. If the weather was good, I'd take the kids outside. We also played games where one child begins a story and others add onto it.

Enjoy yourself and the kids will have a great time too.

Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces, primarily for children
Vijaya Bodach | Personal Blog | Bodach Books
 
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munboy

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 03:34:10 AM »
Well, today was supposed to be the day...but, the kids got a snow day.  :doh:

They're hoping to reschedule in the spring.

On a side note, wind and snow does some pretty funky things above my front door. This isn't as big of an Elvis coif as it's been before.
 

Ros

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 09:13:16 AM »
William Hussey does a lot of work in schools, and by the sounds of things has some lively presentations based on the historical angle of witchfinders and so on. So if there's something historical in your books and you can work in costumes, props and roleplay I think you'll grab children's attention. It's worth checking out his site for inspiration: https://williamhussey.co.uk/contact/

Ros Jackson | author website | blog | twitter | goodreads
 

munboy

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 03:50:31 AM »
William Hussey does a lot of work in schools, and by the sounds of things has some lively presentations based on the historical angle of witchfinders and so on. So if there's something historical in your books and you can work in costumes, props and roleplay I think you'll grab children's attention. It's worth checking out his site for inspiration: https://williamhussey.co.uk/contact/

My middle grade book is a fantasy starring a dragon and tiger, so I think dressing up is out the door unless I want to dress up like an animal. lol

When they reschedule, I plan on talking about how when I was their age I hated to read anything other than comics. It took finding the right book to catch my interest in 6th grade (Dragonlance Chronicles, for the record) to get me to start reading. Same with my daughter who helped me write the book. She hated to read until 4th grade when she found a book that caught her interest and now she reads more than I do. So, I was going to encourage them to try new things, read different things.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2019, 04:18:24 AM »
William Hussey does a lot of work in schools, and by the sounds of things has some lively presentations based on the historical angle of witchfinders and so on. So if there's something historical in your books and you can work in costumes, props and roleplay I think you'll grab children's attention. It's worth checking out his site for inspiration: https://williamhussey.co.uk/contact/

My middle grade book is a fantasy starring a dragon and tiger, so I think dressing up is out the door unless I want to dress up like an animal. lol

When they reschedule, I plan on talking about how when I was their age I hated to read anything other than comics. It took finding the right book to catch my interest in 6th grade (Dragonlance Chronicles, for the record) to get me to start reading. Same with my daughter who helped me write the book. She hated to read until 4th grade when she found a book that caught her interest and now she reads more than I do. So, I was going to encourage them to try new things, read different things.
It sounds as if you have some good ideas for a presentation--now, if only you could present in a dragon costume! :hehe

Now you also have a great deal more time to plan.

When I was teaching, I taught almost entirely at the high school level, though I might have some techniques that could work with middle schoolers.

How long is your presentation supposed to be? Read a little and talk a little isn't very specific. If it's really a short time, it sounds as if you won't have much to worry about. The longer the time, the more creative you need to be. (Short attention spans--I blame TV.)  Your idea of building a story with them sounds great, but that could require a somewhat longer time frame. Also, if the teacher is amenable, it would be a good idea to coordinate with him or her.

Students faced with an unfamiliar situation will sometimes freeze up. This even happens occasionally in high school. I've seen very vocal classes not know quite what to do with themselves when faced with a guest speaker. That's obviously a problem if you're doing anything that relies on audience-participation.

When I was presenting in high school, I had a home-court advantage because it was the school I used to teach at (at least a third of the students had relatives who were former students of mine). and I was helping them review for a mythology test based on a mythology book I wrote. Even so, the teachers prepped to avoid the possibility of dead air. One of them had the students write questions in advance. The other one worked out questions he could ask himself if the students needed to be kick-started. Both of those approaches worked.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | education website | Facebook author page | Twitter
 

munboy

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2019, 10:04:35 AM »
William Hussey does a lot of work in schools, and by the sounds of things has some lively presentations based on the historical angle of witchfinders and so on. So if there's something historical in your books and you can work in costumes, props and roleplay I think you'll grab children's attention. It's worth checking out his site for inspiration: https://williamhussey.co.uk/contact/

My middle grade book is a fantasy starring a dragon and tiger, so I think dressing up is out the door unless I want to dress up like an animal. lol

When they reschedule, I plan on talking about how when I was their age I hated to read anything other than comics. It took finding the right book to catch my interest in 6th grade (Dragonlance Chronicles, for the record) to get me to start reading. Same with my daughter who helped me write the book. She hated to read until 4th grade when she found a book that caught her interest and now she reads more than I do. So, I was going to encourage them to try new things, read different things.
It sounds as if you have some good ideas for a presentation--now, if only you could present in a dragon costume! :hehe

Now you also have a great deal more time to plan.

When I was teaching, I taught almost entirely at the high school level, though I might have some techniques that could work with middle schoolers.

How long is your presentation supposed to be? Read a little and talk a little isn't very specific. If it's really a short time, it sounds as if you won't have much to worry about. The longer the time, the more creative you need to be. (Short attention spans--I blame TV.)  Your idea of building a story with them sounds great, but that could require a somewhat longer time frame. Also, if the teacher is amenable, it would be a good idea to coordinate with him or her.

Students faced with an unfamiliar situation will sometimes freeze up. This even happens occasionally in high school. I've seen very vocal classes not know quite what to do with themselves when faced with a guest speaker. That's obviously a problem if you're doing anything that relies on audience-participation.

When I was presenting in high school, I had a home-court advantage because it was the school I used to teach at (at least a third of the students had relatives who were former students of mine). and I was helping them review for a mythology test based on a mythology book I wrote. Even so, the teachers prepped to avoid the possibility of dead air. One of them had the students write questions in advance. The other one worked out questions he could ask himself if the students needed to be kick-started. Both of those approaches worked.

When I talked to the lady setting it up, she made it sound like I'd have to fill 45-50 minutes...but when we talked again to hammer out details, she clarified that it's two 20-25 minute presentations which includes a reading from my book. If anything, I won't have much time to do much. Read for a few minutes, talk about my journey to becoming a writer, then a short Q&A. Done.
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2019, 02:35:02 AM »
Well, that does sound simpler than having to fill a whole period.


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Ros

Re: Speaking at schools
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2019, 03:04:49 AM »

When I talked to the lady setting it up, she made it sound like I'd have to fill 45-50 minutes...but when we talked again to hammer out details, she clarified that it's two 20-25 minute presentations which includes a reading from my book. If anything, I won't have much time to do much. Read for a few minutes, talk about my journey to becoming a writer, then a short Q&A. Done.

When I was teaching, a long time ago, one really good piece of advice I was given was to design 5 minute filler exercises in case you finish too early.

And you may not be able to dress up, but having a tiger is a really good lead in to the research you've done on tigers for the book, which could tie in nicely with some of their lessons in geography or biology perhaps. Maybe get them to guess how much a tiger eats, how fast they run, etc?

Ros Jackson | author website | blog | twitter | goodreads