I LOVE VISITING SCHOOLS!
Sharing my books and talking to students about writing stories is one of my favorite things to do as a children’s writer.
I am happy to present to small groups as well as large assemblies at schools, libraries, conferences, workshops, and bookstores. My presentations are most suitable for Grades 1-5 but I can present to higher grade-levels on request.
As a teacher and tutor, I have a genuine rapport with students of all ages, and I’m able to change the complexity and style of my presentations to best suit the needs of each audience. A full school assembly can often be followed up with extra workshop time with individual grades.
If you would like specific curriculum subjects covered that relate to either of my books, such as biography, the natural science of orcas or gender diversity, I am happy to oblige. In these cases, it is recommended that teachers share my books with students ahead of time.
Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates
Making History Come Alive!
Grade level: 1–4 (30 minutes)
True stories can be just as inspiring as fiction, but sometimes nonfiction feels like “work” to kids. Enter biography! When kids read about the lives of real people doing very real things, suddenly history comes alive! Working with her picture book “Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates,” Sharon will share her research, writing and offer fun ways that kids can use biographies to open doors thru nonfiction, making connections across all sorts of subject areas.
The Tail Behind the Tale:
How the Story of a Pod of Trapped Orcas Became a Children’s Book
Grade level: 1–5 (40 minutes)
Kids often wonder how writers get the ideas for their stories. Sharon will take your students on a journey, showing how writers—and kids—can use ordinary events they know and learn in real life and turn them into extraordinary stories. Students will also get a behind-the-scenes peek at how a story turns into a physical book.
Write What You Know, Even When You Don’t Know It Yet
Grades 4–6 (40 minutes)
People will sometimes tell you to only write about things you know. But sometimes admitting what you don’t know is the first step to learning what you really care about. This presentation and writing workshop encourages students to not only write what they know, but gives them tools to research and explore ways to built the confidence to write about the things they want to learn—and maybe even change!
Is That Me — or You?
Grades 1-3 or Grades 4–6 (30 minutes)
What would it be like if one day you woke up, looked in the mirror and saw somebody else? In this fun writing workshop, students role-play what it would feel like, inside and out, being that “other” person. Using one of a writer’s most important tools—“Show, don’t tell”—students learn how sensory details enliven writing, and gain a good dose of empathy along the way.
To plan or schedule a school visit, please email me. If you have a suggestion for a particular presentation topic, feel free to ask!
Book pre-sales are available through my local independent bookstore, Phinney Books in Seattle. Each child who purchases a copy receives a personalized signed copy.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What can I expect on a school visit?
My program is flexible, but usually runs between 30-45 minutes for Grades 1-4 and 40-50 minutes for Grades 4-6. I am happy to speak at assemblies or individual classrooms, or a combination of both. Generally, my presentations and workshops include the following:
• My journey as a children’s writer
• The inspiration behind each of my books
• How authors use real life events in fiction stories
• The importance of sensory details and revision
• Writing techniques with plenty of student involvement to build confidence
• Worksheets for teachers to use for following-up in classroom
What age group is your program right for?
My books and presentations are best suited for kids in grades 1-6, depending on the book focus.
Will you travel for school visits?
Yes, I love to meet students all over the country!
Preparing for the visit
My take on author visits is that the most important preparation is to make sure your students are aware that an author is coming to visit and that they have read at least a part of one of one of my books. The students might also visit my website to learn a little before the visit, and prepare questions in advance.
Please note that I do not charge an author visit fee to elementary schools in the greater Seattle area with a school-wide Title 1 program. For paid out-of-town visits, I am happy to add a visit to a Title 1 school for no fee, if it can be arranged.
WRITING WORKSHOPS AND COACHING FOR TEENS
I believe that learning to love the process of writing leads to great writing. In my one-on-one coaching and group workshops for high school juniors and seniors, I help students hone their writing process skills as well as their craft, particularly as they prepare to write their college application essays.
In the very best sense of the word, positive coaching can help students become more confident writers, with a better understanding of how to approach and best utilize the process of writing and revision, something that will serve them well during their college years and beyond.
College admissions deans routinely report that the majority of the personal application essays they receive are travelogues. They tell where the applicant has been or what she has done, but not why he did it or what they learned from it. This is not surprising. Memoir writing is tough, even for an experienced author. Yet we’ve come to expect 17-year old high school students to nail it on their own in 500 words or less.
First-person writing is rarely taught in high school English and AP English classes tend to stress writing that conforms to the College Board’s expository, analytical, and argumentative essay models. While there is no magic formula, I believe that bright, motivated students can craft great essays. And the difference between a good essay and a great one can help a qualified applicant stand out from the competition.