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What happens when Katie visits a school?
- The students will get very excited about reading, writing, and the creative process and they’ll get more out of it because your school prepared them, so they are more invested in the visit.
- They’ll treasure the books they take home from the book sale because of that investment, and that love of books will ripple out to include other books.
- Teachers and parents will cry shamelessly because they forgot to send in their book order forms and then they’ll ask if you any books left and you will say yes because you’re so smart and you ordered extra.
Hosting an author visit is one of the best things you can do for your students because it connects kids to books in a much more powerful way than simply reading them; it gives kids an appreciation of the process that creates the books they love; it offers kids the opportunity to interact with a professional author/illustrator, thereby modeling this possibility for the kids; and it significantly forwards literacy efforts. To top it all off …it’s fun!
I can alter or create my presentation to your needs but the following are descriptions of the skeleton of what I do for students of all grades, from kindergarten through high school. Obviously, each presentation is appropriately tailored to the audience’s age group!
The following are just samples of the many presentations I have done – I can tailor it to your studies, and whatever your interests and needs are!
Writing workshops involve brainstorming, plotting, descriptive narrative, and character development. Though better suited to smaller groups, a modified version of the writing workshop can be accommodated in an assembly. For example:
Title: The Bones of a Story
Description: Tailored to each age group, Katie presents a highly interactive illustrating and storytelling session. The children help write a story, and volunteers join Katie up front where she asks each to make a different emotional expression. She then draws their faces on the characters from her books and together they create a new narrative story with emphasis on beginning, middle and end.
Length: 30-60 minutes
Audience size: any (though keeping it age-apecific works best!
Title: Story Creation Using Characters, Plot, Conflict, Resolution, and Revision
Description: Story construction, sequencing, and how an idea transforms from a thought to a published book. Students learn how to do simple drawings of emotions, Katie talks about revision and editing, reveals mistakes she’s made while writing and illustrating her books, and teaches skills they can use when creating their own stories. Whether an assembly or workshop, this presentation involves brainstorming, plotting, descriptive narrative, and character development.
Length: 30-60 minutes
Poetry workshops are a collaborative experience, with students working together to create a community poem, like the Surrealists invented with their “exquisite corpse” at the turn of the 20th century. For example:
The Vulcan Mind Meld Poetry Workshop
Description: This is a shiver-inducing workshop because of the results produced. It involves all the students working, writing dozens of progressive poems together, yet unaware of what the others are writing. How it works: everyone starts with the same premise, and as each child is finished writing his or her two lines, the paper is folded back until only the second line is showing. The next child receives that paper, and adds two more lines, the paper is folded again to only reveal the last line, and so on. By the end, all the students add to all the poems, creating dozens of unique poems along a similar base theme, with many of them circular in nature, despite the fact that the contributors didn’t realize it.
Illustrating workshops teach kids how to see so they’re able to illustrate any story the write. Even better, it can get them writing “through the back door.” That is, students become connected to their character through their drawings first, and then write a story incorporating them. For example:
Title: Story Writing Workshop Through Character Illustration
Description: Students will learn to draw – learn to see – in this workshop, creating characters that will become the protagonist or antagonist of a story they create with Katie’s guidance. Students brainstorm, plot, develop characters and create descriptive narrative. Optional homework will be assigned, and the kids will need to do editing and revision.
Length: 90 minutes
Length: up to 60 minutes
Description: Through Google+ (or other platform if necessary) I share my screen and show the stages of creation of a picture book and various different books I’ve both written and illustrated. I read early versions of dummies and point out changes that were made and explain why. I share how many times a particular illustration or single word had to be changed and relate it to the many changes students have to make in their own work. For younger children, the final book is read first through the screen sharing of a final PDF of the book.
Educator and Librarian Presentation Testimonials
I had a great time at Katie’s workshop at the SLMSSENY Spring Symposium on March 27,2011. The topics were relevant and exciting (QR codes – wow!). It was a pleasure to see her book and to learn how she incorporates technology into her work as an author and illustrator – it was truly inspiring. I would love to have Katie as a guest speaker at my school!
— Julie Zwiebel, LMS
(NCCATS Teacher Seminar in North Carolina) I loved talking to you during our Skype this week at NCCAT. I am still working on my book about Kindergarteners taking over the school and the chaos that follows. I do have a voice of reason little K’r that is rather funny I think you would like. Thank you for your advice. You rock!
— Royanna Jackson, attendee & Bellamy Elementary School
I love Love LOVE skyping with you! Thanks for all the advice for us North Carolina teachers.
— Loree Smith
I REALLY enjoyed your skype visit today as well as your books, which are perfect for my 3-4 year-old students with disabilities. I will definately keep up with your website, which has fantastic info. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! If I can figure out twitter I will write something
— Debbie Gebbie, Union County Public Schools
School Visits Testimonials
“I’m usually a bit ‘ho-hum’ when it comes to author visits but (Katie was) one to change my mind! (She) connects in a very positive way to kindergarteners. (She also knew how to efficiently manage behavior and I do have a few challenges this year!) I love how (Katie) ‘thinks out loud’ when talking about imagination – very powerful.” Katie gave us…the best ever writing session, and I truly mean it!”
— Jayne Pitt, Kindergarten teacher, Julian Curtis Elementary School, Greenwich, Ct.
“I just wanted to thank you for your great visits with our kindergarten classes today. It is so clear how well you understand kindergarten and engage them in your presentation. They had a fabulous time. Kindergarten has field day next week and they are all going to wear their Little Chicken tattoos. I can’t wait to get some pictures!
The kindergarten teachers were most impressed as well. If possible, I would like to schedule something again in the fall with our new group of kindergarteners. Have a great day!”
Amy O’Neill, Teacher Librarian, Prospect Valley Elementary
“Katie met with our K-2 students in their classrooms and they LOVED her! Her presentations were lively, animated and fun. The teachers were all thrileld and impressed with how Katie led the students through the narrative and illustrating process. It was a perfect complement to their classroom approach and lessons.”
— Anonymous teacher input on evaluation form, Julian Curtis Elementary School, Greenwich, Ct.
(Skype Visit) Hi, I was lucky enough to be in my daughters K classroom the day we skyped with you at Prospect Valley in Wheat Ridge, CO. Thanks! –Katy
“Katie Davis appeared at King recently in conjunction with our Lower School Book Fair. She is a dynamic speaker who relates well to children. Most impressive was the drawing technique that Katie demonstrated. Her method of turning photographs into fictional characters was fascinating, and really got students interested in trying her method.”
— Jonathan Gillies, Dean of Lower School Students, King Stamford, Connecticut
“Katie was very well prepared and completely at ease to speak in front of such a large crowd of approximately 200 children. Her performance was interactive and fun. The students enjoyed learning about Katie’s life and how she came to writing. They enjoyed watching her draw and recognized how much hard work goes into each of her books. All in all, I can whole heartedly recommend Katie Davis for a school or library visit, be it in a small or a large setting: Katie will delight them all!”
— Olivia Korsun, owner of Booktopia Fairs
“You were fabulous and we loved having you at the Savannah Children’s Book Festival. You were great – so easy to work with. Not only that, you were a lot of fun…we enjoyed you immensely. Apparently, so did the crowds – your tent was full for both your sessions – nice work.”
— Robin Shader, Liberty County Coordinator Live Oak Public Libraries, Savannah, GA
“As an intermediate teacher in a very high-performing school district, it was quite obvious to me that my students,many of whom are identified as gifted and talented, benefited greatly from Katie Davis’ wonderful and exuberant writing and illustrating workshops. My students said: “Mrs. Davis helped me to improve the way I plan for writing a story”; “She made it very easy to brainstorm ideas before writing a story”; “She helped me to realize that it takes a long time to write a book, and adding detail is something that you need to do a lot. It’s an important priority in writing”; “I was never a very good cartoonist or illustrator, but now, since she showed us how to copy photos and make them into cartoons, it’s much easier to illustrate my stories.” Katie’s workshops provide students the opportunity to see themselves as capable writers, which is the primary goal of writing educators. Therefore, I wholly recommend Katie’s wonderful workshop, and hope that you allow your students the opportunity to strive for a goal within their reach, which these workshops do, indeed, provide.”
— Ian Banner, 5th Grade Teacher, Fairfield Public Schools, CT
“Katie Davis had these kids eating out of her hands. Such talented hands! This may be the most entertaining author we’ve ever had. Katie is not only a talented artist, but she is a special performer who knows how to work a crowd. Without missing a beat, she quieted a show-off, raised up a tired child, and made sure every eye was on her. These students will remember this author/illustrator for years to come.”
— Rosemary Jordal, Program Coordinator Groton Public Library, Groton, CT