Thinking Thursday: “WHY” Should Schools Invite Authors and Illustrators

authorvisit2“WHY” Should Schools Invite Authors & Illustrators

Today I’m continuing my block of posts on…

SCHOOL TIME + AUTHOR VISITS = LEARNING STUDENTS

I want to touch on the WHY part for schools to schedule a visit.

WHY take the time out of classroom time?

While Classroom Time is extremely valuable, having a break in the routine can help snap students attention back into focus. Trying something different is a great way to increase your attention. Think about seeing and doing the same thing over and over again. Such as this simple example:

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Did you spot the “7”? Stuck out didn’t it. Now you tend to look back at it to make sure it’s there right? Something different, something new. Can get the most out of you. Taking the time to see and/or do something out of the ordinary routine will help stick it into your brain better.

WHY you should encourage students to look into the presenter?

Here are two senarios:

  1. You book an author and tell the students they are coming. Then the presenter shows up. They look out into the crowd and see blank faces staring at them…
    Yes, I have had that scenario played out before my very eyes. They were told I was coming a month ago, but they forgot. Now all they know is they are getting out of class and I’m here for SOMETHING.OR….
  2. You book an author and tell your students they are coming.  The books your purchased are displayed where everyone will see them as they come into your library. You sent home the author bio and book order form flyers, so the parents can ‘meet’ the author too. There are extra author bio flyers available for the students to look at. They look the author up online, read their background, watch the book trailers, and read the books. Then the presenter shows up. They look out into the crowd and see smiling faces and a few students shyly wave and mouth, “Hi!”. They know who the presenter is and have a few questions ready, in case they get called upon.
    Yes, I have had this scenario played out before my very eyes too.

Guess which one the presenter is hoping for? By getting the students involved BEFORE the presenter comes will encourage not only a better session, but research, planning, and expectation.

WHY should you promote and sell the author’s/illustrator’s books?

Quite simply, you are showing support of them and their products. Authors and Illustrators work hard to get where they are and one way they get paid is in royalties from books sold. While we don’t make much, every bit counts.

WHY should you allow your students to meet an author/illustrator?

By allowing a presenter to come to your school it not only adds a new element for the day, but it also introduces them to someone who is knowledgeable in the field. Everyone likes to hear what experts say and do. So here’s your chance to allow someone with first-hand knowledge of the book industry into your school.

We can tell you the struggles of writing, editing, and just how scary it can be to see something you created go out into the world.

WHY will you see the effects of an author/illustrator visit?

I like to think of it as a rock being dropped into a still pond.

You have the immediate reaction of the presenter being there. Then after they have left you will see ripples as your students read more, talk about writing/drawing more, having to work hard for something you want to accomplish.

There are many ripples too.
Reading
Writing
Creativity
Researching
Preparation

This will expand to the outer reaches of their learning. Maybe even influence them in some way.

WHY you should incorporate this into your learning curriculum?

Bringing an author or illustrator into your school can be incorporated into the Common Core Curriculum. You can talk about where they are from (Social Studies), What background they have in their learning (Literature), How long it took to get their book published (Math), as well as many other things when you incorporate a book of theirs into the equation.

The learning never stops!  🙂

 

So what can hold a school back?
I’ll say it…

::MONEY::

It costs money to bring presenters in. This is something not all people realize. But think about it…

WHY should you pay for them to come?

You wouldn’t expect a doctor to do their job for free. Or a police officer. Or a cashier. The same should be applied to an author and illustrator. They have spent years honing their craft, submitting to houses, and getting ready for this day. Plus this person is taking time out of their schedule to come. That can include writing time, drawing time, revision time, gas, dry cleaning, time while at the school, you get the picture, right?

BUT… budgets are tight and getting tighter.

Here are a few things to help out:

  • Fund-Raisers
  • Title I Monies
  • Bake Sales
  • Sponsorships from business/organizations
  • Donations
  • PTA/PTO
  • Grants

Check out my Fund Raising/Grants page on my website for more ideas and information.

 

So I hope I made you pause and consider WHY inviting an author or illustrator is important and I hope you will consider encouraging your local schools to invite one or two or three or more this year!

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::

Do you know of any other WHYs as to why you should invite an author or illustrator?
Have a question? Ask in the comment section and I’ll do my best to answer it.

Happy Writing!
~t

 

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www.Wednesday… Website Ready for AUTHOR VISITS

Welcome to my:

SCHOOL TIME + AUTHOR TIME = LEARNING STUDENTS

block of blog posts. Today I’m covering the author side.

WHY should you have a website???

ComputerI know you’ve heard it time and again…

HAVE A WEBSITE!

Here is a very good reason to have one, even if it is just one page. A (principal, media specialist,  pta member, etc) will definitely search for you on the internet.

By having a website, you ensure the information out there on you is accurate. You can also control what they see and what you promote.

WHAT SHOULD YOU INCLUDE ON YOUR WEBSITE?

Honestly, any and all information you  need to encourage people to buy your books, invite you to their school, use your services, etc.

While you might not have all those categories, and might have others, be straight forward with your information. Be honest and up front. People like to have their information where they can processes it easily. They also like to feel as if they know you. Make it easy and simple.

Here is my website link:

Tracey M. Cox, author

When you click over you will go directly to my landing page. On my landing page I’ve included several things:

  1. Welcome Video – This allows people to see and hear you. Body language is wonderful. You don’t have to guess if I’m joking or being sarcastic. You can see it. It also lets your personality begin to shine through. That builds on people getting to know you.
  2. Latest Book Release – Let you newest baby have the spotlight for a while.
  3. What I’m Available for – Here I already begin marketing and promoting my author visits, books signings, and guest speaker invites.
  4. Social Media Links – Contact is key! I include links to my Social Media on EVERY PAGE. The more they see you, the more they get to know you, the more they trust you as an expert in the field.

Pages I included and why are:

  • about me – Here I let people get to know me a little more. I share a some background information, as well as how I began to write professionally.
  • books – I have the cover art for each book that has been authored and/or illustrated by me. When they click on the cover art, it will take them to a paged dedicated to that book.
  • for teachers/parents – I have pdf downloads here. Everyone loves freebies. I have included coloring pages and activities that coincide with my books. I’ll be adding Teacher Guides (ever so important with Common Core) and word searches too.
  • author visits – On this page I have a few pdfs and information about what author visits I offers. I also include my fees here. Not everyone does, but I don’t mind people knowing what I charge. I live in a rural community and charge accordingly. I also have links that include fund-raising opportunities (Title I Monies can go towards AUTHOR VISITS, did you know that?) and my CALENDAR OF EVENTS so they can see my schedule.
  • contact –  I include how to get in touch with me. Which is AWESOME when you get fan mail. 🙂  I also have links for my newsletter and book launch teams here too.
  • services – On this page I’m advertising for myself. I offer platform building consultant services as well as a pb critique service.
  • blog –  Well, you are here.   😉  I have a link on my website too.
  • reviews – I also have a pb review blog, which is under a major renovation right now. The link up there will take you to the older one, for now.

Your website may or may not have all those elements, but that is why you are unique and what you offer is a one-of-a-kind deal!

The key is getting your name out there where you can be found and have your information correct. Build that trust and help promote literacy.

 

:::LEAVE ME A COMMENT:::

Let me know what you think about my website. What do you include in yours? What information do you think is most important to include on a website?

Til next time…

Happy Writing!
~t

 

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Teacher Guides + Common Core = Common Ground guided by Marcie Colleen

TEACHER GUIDES + COMMON CORE = COMMON GROUND
GUIDED BY MARCIE COLLEEN

 

Hello everyone.

I have been wanting to address a subject that has been giving numerous writers, and parents, some trouble. I think it is in the understanding of the topic really. COMMON CORE has come to your local schools. While a lot of heated debates have happened, I have sat down and began to study it. Really dig deep, and try to understand it. While it can be overwhelming, I think it can be a good thing.

I asked one of my colleagues, Marcie Colleen, if she would answer a few questions about Common Core. I wanted to pass it along to my readers so they can benefit too. Marcie is so generous as you will see below. So, take a deep breath and lets look, really look, at Common Core and find out how it can be beneficial.

PLUS, for my writing friends, how adding a Teacher Guide (a/k/a Lesson Plan) can help your book become Common Core friendly, and hopefully get your book into more children’s hands.

 

 

I’m wanting to give my readers more information on the Common Core. It can be confusing when you first begin to look into it. How would you explain it to someone who has no knowledge?

I’d actually beg to differ. It’s not the Common Core that is confusing, it’s the emotionally charged opinions that are plaguing our media that are hard to decipher. When so many people are speaking out about their feelings, it can be difficult to make sense of it for ourselves.

Therefore, here are 3 helpful resources to help YOU make sense of the CCSS for YOU!

  • School Library Journal 6-part webcast series about the Common Core. This series is FREE and very helpful, especially Part One: Getting Real with Marc Aronson and Sue Bartle. Although they are geared toward professionals in the education world, they will give you a good overview on what the CCSS entail and how educators are “unpacking” the standards for themselves. You can find the entire series here. http://www.slj.com/webcasts/commoncore/#_
  • The Common Core State Standards. It’s always best to go right to the source. These standards are not rocket science, but they can be overwhelming. Look at the tables which include each standard by grade level. Limit your focus by standard and grade level so that it is easiest to digest. They can be found, in detail, at http://www.corestandards.org/

Unfortunately, there are really no shortcuts. If you want to be a part of the conversation, these resources will help you.

To better understand, let’s look closely at a few of the standards.

Excerpt from Grade 3 Reading: Literature Standards

Key Ideas and Details

1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

2. Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

3. Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Craft and Structure

4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language.

5. Refer to parts of stories, dramas, and poems when writing or speaking about a text, using terms such as chapter, scene, and stanza; describe how each successive part builds on earlier sections.

6. Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

7. Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

In isolation it becomes clearer that:

  • The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of benchmarks which focus on the development of essential skills at the most appropriate age and development stage for students.
  • They are skill-based, not test-driven, and in theory will prepare students better for life post-school.
  • They also allow teachers to be unique in their approaches to instruction, not dictating what is to be taught or how. The focus is on results, not means.
  • They are not rocket science or really that confusing.
  • Every book can be Common Core compliant.

 

I wanted to ask you also to explain why is good to offer Teacher Guides.

A Teacher’s Guide is

  • A tool for teachers to use to gain immediate access into your book and adapt it quickly and easily for classroom use.
  • Aligns your book to the current curriculum and curriculum standards (state standards, as well as the Common Core)
  • A marketing tool which promotes you within the educational environment and helps you garner more school and library visits.

But to answer your question, I want to tell a story. I was recently hired by Adriana Brad Schanen to create a Teacher’s Guide for her debut middle grade novel Quinny & Hopper (Disney Hyperion, 2014). Fast forward to Adriana’s first school visit to a bunch of 4th grade classes. In addition to presenting to the classes, Adriana gave each teacher a copy of the Teacher’s Guide. By the end of the day, the teachers were raving about how comprehensive the guide was. They loved how many options and avenues into the book it provided. In fact, the teachers decided that perhaps next year they would forgo the usual Superfudge unit and instead teach Quinny & Hopper!!!

Teachers are busy. They are overworked. They are spread thin. The easier you can make it for them to use your book in the classroom the better your chances. Of course they have been teaching Superfudge. There are a zillion lesson plans and activities for free on the web on how to bring Superfudge into the classroom. A Teacher’s Guide can help you “compete”.

 

When should you think about teacher guides?

Truthfully? Once your book is finished. Just like I wouldn’t want a teacher to “teach to the test”, a writer shouldn’t write to a Teacher’s Guide. Once your book is finished you can start to think about its life outside.

Six months prior to the date of publication is usually sufficient start the process of creating a Teacher’s Guide.

 

What if your story is fiction, can you still incorporate teacher’s guides?

Absolutely! In fact, out of the 33 Teacher’s Guides I have created for clients, only 3 of them have been for non-fiction titles. To check them out, all of my guides are available for free download on my website at http://www.thisismarciecolleen.com.

You’d be surprised what academic goodies can be pulled out of a fiction story. After all, isn’t The Very Hungry Caterpillar a great springboard for learning about food choices, the life cycle of a butterfly and metamorphosis?

 

Thank you so much, Marcie. You really have gone above and beyond.

 

 

MARCIE COLLEEN

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Education Consultant, Marcie Colleen, is a former classroom teacher and curriculum creator turned Picture Book writer. Her Teacher’s Guides, which align picture books and middle grade novels with the Common Core and other state mandated standards, have been praised by both teachers and librarians. Her Teacher’s Guide for Picture Book Month, Why Picture Books Belong in Our Classrooms, validates the use of picture books across EVERY curriculum and provides teachers with a hands on approach to adapt any picture book for educational use. Her work with Picture Book Month has been recognized by School Library Journal and the Children’s Book Council. Marcie is also an Education Strategist, providing one-on-one consultation guiding authors and illustrators to best position their books for school visits and classroom use. Visit her at www.thisismarciecolleen.com to discover how Marcie can help you navigate the world of children’s literature and education.

 

 

I hope that give you all some stepping stones to begin the journey of understanding Common Core and how books, with Teacher Guides, can play a vital role in children’s education.

Happy writing/reading everyone!
~t

 

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