Virtual Visits

I would love to visit with your students via Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype. I offer two presentations, tailored to the ages and needs of your virtual classroom. I recommend “Unlocking Ideas” for grades K-3 and “The Who of History” for grades 3-5.

The WHO of History: Researching and Writing Biographies (grades 3-5)

  • Virginia Hall—subject of my picture book biography Virginia was a Spykicks this off with a brief introduction to World War II. (Of course, no one will guess this is me in costume!)
  • Virginia takes her leave, and I appear. After a brief introduction, I read Virginia was a Spy. (Teachers can choose to save time by reading the book to students ahead of the visit.)
  • I define biography (the WHO of history).
  • I show slides with famous and not-so-famous people, arranged in groups according to their contributions. I talk with students about how and why I chose to write about Virginia Hall.
  • I talk about the research process and the importance of using both primary and secondary sources—part of the Common Core standards. I show examples of each.
  • I talk about using anecdotes to provide interest and help readers better understand the subject (in contrast to just stringing together facts).
  • I allow time for Q & A. Teachers can collect and submit questions ahead of time, if they’d like.
  • My visit can serve as a jumping-off activity for teacher-led character trait and/or biography-writing activities. Both activities include student packets and teacher guides and satisfy numerous Common Core standards.

Unlocking Ideas (grades K-3)

  • I begin with a brief introduction followed by a personal (and humbling) slide show I call The Do’s and Don’ts of the Idea Hunt.
  • I read one of my fiction picture books—Polka-dot Fixes Kindergarten or Emma’s Question—and use slides from my childhood to show how personal experiences can be sparks for stories. (Teachers can choose to save time by reading the books to students before my visit.)
  • I talk to students about taking something real and building a story around it. Exaggerate! Make yourself a hero! Change what happens!
  • I conduct a story prompt activity that helps students shake loose ideas from their own lives. After each prompt, they write a few words on a sheet of paper and hold up the paper. Students can keep ideas in a folder for use in a later, teacher-led writing activity.
  • I talk with students about my writing and revision process and—if they promise not to laugh—I show them marked-up, scribbled-on copies of my own drafts.
  • I allow time for Q & A. Teachers can collect and submit questions ahead of time, if they’d like.

For both presentations, I prefer groups of 30 or fewer students. This allows us to see and interact with each other. Presentations are about an hour long for older students and 30-45 minutes for younger students.

Please contact me for information on book order forms and fees.