How to Prepare Students for a Visit with Debbie

I’m delighted to sign books. They can be new books that students have purchased, should you have a sale, used books that students bring in for me to sign, or library books, it’s all good. No need to have a sale, if you don’t want to do this or don’t have the time and draining commitment that this takes. Students always want to buy books after a presentation, and they can be directed to your library, the public library, local indies (Dancing Bear in Frederick carries all of my titles), or amazon. I will also bring you a copy of each of my books for your library.

I can work well and effectively with large or small groups — the size is up to you and your scheduling needs.

Here are parameters to keep in mind:

1. Where will we have assemblies? Cafeteria? Gymnasium? Library? The most intimate setting is the ideal, but I know how to work with whatever we’ve got to work with.

2. I need, above all, excellent, crisp sound. A handheld, cordless mic works best, as I move all over the place, but I will work with whatever you have, as long as we have good sound, so I don’t have to shout and lose my voice.

3. Large groups or small — either is fine. I will adjust the presentation to the size of the group. Let me know in advance the numbers (general numbers is fine). If we are doing fifth grade only, let’s break them into two groups of 60 or less, which will give us a lovely, intimate setting (really), and give your students and teachers a chance to write with me.

4. All teachers should attend assembly. I will be workshopping not only with students, but with their teachers, and teachers will take away from the assembly tools they can put into their already-ample writing toolboxes. I will start a personal narrative writing piece with their students, and teachers will be able to use this in any way that seems best to them, to fit their curricular needs.

5. All students AND TEACHERS should bring notebooks and pencils/pens to assembly. We will have fun and laugh a lot, and we will learn together. We will model for one another.

6. Equipment needs: Chart paper/Smart Board/chalkboard, and writing implements for same, in assembly. I will use any combination, but would like at least one of these. I also will need an LCD projector and backup laptop (I’ll use my laptop), a screen to show slides, a Crackerjack mic with superb sound, and a small table for props.

7. As I’ve said before, students need to be familiar with my books, in order for them to make those text-to-self connections, as I will tell many stories (and show the accompanying slides) of how my own personal narrative has found its way into fiction. I will challenge students to find their own stories, their own personal narrative. We will laugh much, and work hard.

8. 9:15 is a good time to start our first assembly. May I have an hour for each assembly, with fifteen minutes between assemblies? 45 minutes is the outside minimum, in order to cover all pertinent points. I’d love to leave a bit of time for Q&A. Let me know. I suggest one assembly at 9:15 and the next at 10:30… or some such arrangement, according to your scheduling. Let’s talk about this.

9. It’s imperative that students be familiar with my books. Fifth graders should ideally have read (or have read to them) LOVE, RUBY LAVENDER, EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS, THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS, and FREEDOM SUMMER. I will highlight each of these books and show how they originate from personal narrative, and then ask students to chronicle their own lives. Often, schools will split these books and have a grade or classroom read a particular book, so that all students have a passing experience with at least one book… then they can share, later, the others. This works well. Even if the entire book(s) cannot be read, several chapters of each will greatly enhance the assembly experience and provide much-needed context for reteaching and subsequent projects.

10. How is this? What questions do you have for me, any of you? I want to make this day as useful and meaningful as possible for teachers and students.

I’m so looking forward to this!

If you’re interested in more, you can follow along with my blog here.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and so glad we’re working together,

Deborah Wiles