3 Secrets to School Visit Success

writing their own stories

Schools visits are magical…most of the time.  My very first school visit started with technology issues. After struggling for half an hour, I decided to give my presentation without slides. At that point, of course, the presentation suddenly started working! Talk about stressful. But in the end, it’s your connection with the kids that matters.  How do we inspire and encourage kids during our school visits?journal and rejections

I thought through this question as I recently prepared for my visit to St. Augustine’s school, where I spent the day leading workshops for K-8, pictured here. There are the three basic rules that work for me. I share personal experiences, get the kids involved, and use questions.

1.  Share personal experiences.  Kids like hearing about your triumphs and downfalls.  They want to hear something silly or what gives you ideas for books.  I share my pile of rejections, a silly picture of myself at their age,and my first journal.

2. Get the kids involved. Kids learn best when they are moving and thinking at the same time. My school visits involve mad-libs, raisin and popcorn meditations, singing, a story in a box, writing stories, and onomatopoeia word storms.

story in a box

word onomatopeia storm3. Use questions.  What’s your favorite book?  Why is it your favorite book?  What makes you want to turn the page?  What tools can we use to write stories that people want to read?  All of these questions get kids thinking about the writing process.  And kids always have questions for a visiting author.  Make sure you leave time for them to ask you questions at the end of your presentation.  Kids of all ages ask insightful and interesting questions.

Questions from St. A's kidsI always end my school visits with a challenge.  Only you can write your story, and people need to hear it!  Only You Can Tell Your Story

And sometimes inspiration happens…as one boy wrote: “You inspired me to write and now I know there is a book for everyone!”
Thank yous from St. Augustine's

22 comments

  1. I loved this post! I have a school visit coming up and I’d like to avoid the boredom that I created during my last school visit. I am going to outright steal some of your ideas–hope that’s okay! (I’ll give you the credit, of course 🙂 )

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    1. I’ve presented to as many as 300 at a time, and as few as 40. My story in a box works for both groups. I just have the smaller group write individual stories and the larger group makes up a story together.

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  2. Kirsti, this is great! And thank you for the link for story in a box. What an imaginative way to brainstorm ideas for a story! I might have to use this method in my library classes… 8>)

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