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School Visits

Her Infinite Variety

If you’re a student or teacher reading my short story Duty in your Collections textbook, I would love to Skype with your class, or visit in person if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve so much enjoyed visiting eighth grade and high school classrooms to answer questions and talk with students about this story, Shakespeare, and writing.


At the Heels of History

“With spot-on pacing and levity, Berkman and Hearst engage readers and communicate the seriousness of Revere’s mission. . . This first in a new series is fun and accessible for readers who aren’t quite ready for Alison Hart’s “Dog Chronicles.”
School Library Journal

Dorothy Hearst and I would love to arrange a visit to your elementary school classroom for activities and a discussion about our books in the At the Heels of History series. We can visit virtually, or in person if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here is some information on what a school visit might look like for Filigree’s Midnight Ride, the first book in the series, available August 2019. A downloadable version of this information and a curriculum guide are available.

 

Filigree’s Midnight Ride (At the Heels of History, Book 1) Classroom Visit Program

30- to 45-minute program (length tailored to grade level) with time at the end for questions

With our stuffed mascot of Filigree the Pomeranian in tow, we will offer a fun, energetic, and interactive program that combines tips on writing, new ways to learn about history, and the joy of dogs. Our goal is for students to leave the presentation excited about history, thinking about seeing history from different points of view, inspired to write their own stories, and having some tools to do so.

 

Opening:

  • Opening talk (5 minutes)
    • We will engage students by asking about dogs that they know, asking them to tell us the dogs’ names and talk about what they are like.
    • We will discuss why we wrote Filigree’s Midnight Ride: we wanted to tell a story from history from a new point of view. And we think it’s important to read and write and to talk about history and how it helps us understand things today.
  • Brief reading from the book (5 to 10 minutes)
    • This will be interactive. We will give students two to three choices of which part of the story they want to hear, and will have students provide sound effects, hold props, and read lines along with us as appropriate to grade level.

 

Activities (10 to 20 minutes):

We have a portfolio of interactive elements that we tailor to grade level and the goals of the school. Based on discussions with teachers, we will build a program around a selection of the following activities:

  • How to write a book with your best friends: a visual demonstration of how we use Post-its and colored pens to get our ideas down and start turning them into stories we can write as a team. This can lead to writing a story with the group, using our process to begin a story with students.
  • Draw that dog! Students will draw a dog in their lives. They will draw a scene in which the dog is a hero, or did something funny, or something special.
  • Based on our background in improvisational theater, we will guide students in a skit based on the world of the book or in which they act out an actual scene in the book.
  • An exploration of fun facts about dogs in history and discussion of what a dog might have done during events students are studying in their classrooms.
  • Discussion of when there was a time when you thought you couldn’t do something, but found a way, like Filigree does, to do it anyway.
  • Discussion of what creatures can do better if they are small
  • Paul Revere’s ride: to show how the riders fanned out to alert different towns, each student is a “rider” with a “town.” The first riders set out, then alert other riders, until all towns know that the British army is on its way.

 

Q&A (5 minutes):

A question & answer segment on writing, history, and dogs – or anything the students would like to ask.

 

Closing, Book Signing & Leave-behind:

  • A farewell dog style. How do dogs say goodbye? A good, rousing bark to say good-bye.
  • Book Signing
  • We will distribute a handout: This visit made me think about ____ because ____