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School Visits

FAQs and OGAs About My School Program

(Frequently Asked Questions & Often Given Answers)

What’s a typical Ted Scheu school program look like?

How long are your assemblies and writing workshops?

What does your assembly program look and sound like?

What do your writing workshops look like?

What grades do you speak with most often?

How long is a residency?

How many presentations do you do in a day?

How about holding a culminating/wrap-up assembly at the end of a day?

Do you do presentations outside of the school day?

What about lunch?

What is your fee?

Do you address Common Core and state standards?

What can teachers/librarians do to prepare the kids?

Should we sell books and how do we do it?

Should we sell books before the visit or after?

What the best time of year to invite you?

Great, Iʼm ready to book a date. Now what?

Answers

What’s a typical Ted Scheu school program look like?

First, it looks to meet your needs. We plan carefully together (and with my fabulous rep Kerri Kunkel at www.childrensauthorsally.com) to make sure the day(s) fully meets your goals and expectations. So, every visit is a little different.

As you may know from my web site, and/or from feedback from other schools, I offer a pretty unique program for authors who do school visits. I am both a children’s poet and a licensed elementary educator (I’ve taught K through 5th). I always love to do a kick-off assembly to begin the day, but most importantly, I then go to work with children in their classrooms, bringing poetry and writing to life in a fun, new way–helping them with careful word choice and close observation of themselves and their world. I work extra hard to make sure that every child feels like she has succeeded, or had a memorable time.

I’ll do any combination of assemblies and workshops—usually no more than 4-5 ‘events’ in a very full day. I also enjoy having a “Writer’s Lunch” with a small group of writers to share and discuss our work. These last 25-30 minutes, not to interfere with critical recess time;)

“We were Wowed! I’ve been getting poems all day and I’ve never heard such positive comments from teachers regarding authors. Thanks again!

– Teacher, Northwood, NH

How long are your assemblies and writing workshops?

Assemblies and workshops both usually run 45 to 55 minutes, depending upon grade and type of presentation, with at least 10 minutes between, for me to catch my breath and move to the next space. With younger writers (Ks especially) I’ll do 30-35 minutes. But I can keep little squirmers very engaged.

“Thank you so much for coming to our school. We simply loved you and will recommend you to all our friends. The children did not want to leave your assembly. I have had so many calls from parents, that their children were reading your poems all night long. I will definitely let you of any feedback that I hear. I am positive that all the comments will be cheers and praise for you!”

– PTA Parent, White Plains, NY

What does your assembly program look and sound like?

The assembly program is mostly me performing my poems and sharing my thoughts about the power of poetry, and my ‘history’ with it. It also has a bunch of interactive, fun, participatory elements. I’ve done groups as small as 25 and as large as 500. For any group bigger than 100, I’ll need a microphone system. I can also easily bring my own, if I’m coming by car.

“Thank you Ted! Each of your visits was truly a pleasure! You made a very wonderful and lasting impression on our two schools, and provided an educational experience we will all remember fondly. It was great to meet you and I hope you make it back to township soon!”

– Principal, Haddon Twp, NJ

What do your writing workshops look like?

Workshops are 40-60 minutes long and are usually held with a single classroom group, with a maximum of about 30 students. If necessary, we can double up classes to meet tight schedules, as long as there is room for all the poets to sit comfortably and write. Workshops are energized discussions and hands-on writing sessions (every student writes and happily succeeds) that focus on poetry–what it is and how it’s written and read. I begin sharing a few well-known poems, use lots of models of poems by children of comparable ages, invite the kids to write a draft, and always include time for student sharing of rough drafts at the end. That’s the breathtaking part. Workshops may be tailored to a teacher’s specific needs, to include any of the following topics:

  • The writing process and revision. Choosing our words carefully!
  • Making visual and sensory comparisons—using tools like metaphor and simile.
  • Writing from the heart—recalling and sharing memories and feelings.
  • Rhyme and rhythm—exploring and playing with the music of poems.

Whenever possible, workshops should be preceded by an assembly, for maximum impact and fun. A closer look at this ‘menu’ of workshop choices may be found here.

“Thank you so very much for coming to the school and entertaining the kids and staff! All the feedback I have received has been incredibly positive. You did a fabulous job reaching out to ALL the students. Kids who normally do not share their work have excitedly been coming up and showing me the poems they did with you. Staff has been telling me how much they enjoyed the assembly and your workshops. You truly have the gift of engaging children and creating excitement about poetry. Again, thank you for such a WONDERFUL experience!”

– Librarian, Meriden, NH

What grades do you speak with most often?

My teaching experience (and my own writer’s voice) is mostly in the K-5 range, but I also have done many middle school programs very successfully. They stretch me in good ways! I am totally comfortable engaging and holding the attention of all the grades—and getting them to write! I have teachers tell me often that a certain student has never, ever written as much, or as deeply, as she or he does in one of my workshops. That’s not as much due to my teaching skill as it is the freeing power of poems—especially for tangled writers.

“This is a very delayed thank-you for yet another fantastic poetry experience for our 2nd graders at BRS. The teachers just loved all you did and the students had fun, too. Even my son, who usually dreads any kind of writing, talked excitedly about your poetry and enjoyed his ‘poetic license.’ He noted the progression of your facial expressions in the photos on the license and commented that’s what happens to him, too, when he reads your humorous poems. It was truly a pleasure and delight to help in bringing your talents and gracious enthusiasm to our 2nd graders. I very much enjoyed working with you and am excited that our current 1st graders have such a wonderful experience ahead of them.”

– PTO Parent, Pleasantville, NY

How long is a residency?

2-3 days on average. Sometimes schools will have me for a week, so I can work with every class and child at least once. Or I’ll meet with a single grade or two, exclusively, multiple times. I find that meeting twice with a class had more than double the power, because we can really reinforce the writing skills and tools and the kids can write and revise more than one poem.

“I have received many compliments about how smooth your day here was and how engaged the children were in the assembly and the workshops. Thank you for making me look good – you really have your workshops and assembly so well organized and so appealing to the specific age groups. As I mentioned, I will pass along your name to the other cultural arts chairmen in our consortium.”

– First Grade Teacher, NJ

How many presentations do you do in a day?

As you will see, I throw myself totally into my programs—giving it my all. So 4-5 ‘events’ are usually included in my fee. Anything beyond 4-5 presentations is pretty exhausting, so I’ll sometimes charge a small additional fee to add one or two more. You can also mix and match presentations and workshops if you choose. For instance, you could do 2 assemblies and 2 workshops—a total of 4—for the same fee.

“My son and his 2nd grade friends came home today RAVING about your visit – thank you so much!”

– PTO Mom, Lewisboro, NY

How about holding a culminating/wrap-up assembly at the end of a day?

I love when we have time for this. I can reinforce the tools and techniques we used in our writing workshops, and then the kids get to share their drafts with their classmates. It’s the very best way to end a day or a residency, and more and more schools are planning for it. Yippee!

“Thanks again for such a great visit to our school last week. It was educational, entertaining and enlightening. Your visit was enjoyed by teachers and students alike. You brought poetry to life for many of us. People–young and old–are often intimidated by reading/writing poetry. Your presentations helped us all appreciate that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme and is so much “funner” when it is read out loud and shared! Thanks, too, for all the books, poems, and poetic licenses. My 5-year daughter has had the death grip on her poetic license since you gave it to her. She won’t let it out of her sight.”

– PTO Organizer, Andover MA

Do you do presentations outside of the school day to families and/or teachers?

 

Yes. Lately I have been doing a lot of Family Night events where kids bring parents back to school to do two things: they share aloud the poems they wrote that day or week, and they also write a poem with their parent(s). This can be really fun and powerful. I serve as the MC and teacher.

I also happily do after-school teacher workshops, sharing thoughts and tips on using poetry in the classroom. And I’ll try anything else you can think of. Over the years, Iʼve done many types of events, so feel free to ask for something different. Each of these have additional small fees, of course.

“The activities last night were great, but by far my favorite part was seeing our students reading their poetry with such confidence in front of their families and community. Because I know the stories behind the faces, it was that much more remarkable. Thank you for making that happen.”

– Librarian, Grafton, VT

What about lunch?

My lunch is most-often provided by the school, and I’m grateful. A simple salad or deli sandwich (chicken or tuna salad is great) and a bottle of water is usually all I need. Once a visit is booked, we can chat food.

What is your fee?

Contact my rep Kerri to receive an email or a call with fees. Or you can contact me directly at I’ll cover my all my travel costs (food, mileage) if I’m coming to you by car from Vermont. And I’ll need a modest hotel nearby—nothing fancy—unless I’m staying with friends in the area. And, of course, if I’m flying to you, I’ll need you to cover my airfare. Often, this cost is shared by several schools in a city/region.

“I asked Ethan (my 5th grader) what he thought of your presentation, and he said, ‘It was great, and Ted Scheu is so funny. Now I know how important verbs are.’ He also likes the sports poems from your new book, and he plans to use the poems as inspiration to punch up his own writing. Anna, (1st grade), said, ‘I liked all of it. He’s so funny!’

“I especially enjoyed watching how you were able to transition your poetry from the pre-K level all the way to 6th grade. Your presentations worked for every grade level. Thank you for reading ”One Good Thing” to the 4th graders during their workshop; I wish that the 5th and 6th graders could have heard you read it as well. The audible gasp from the 4th graders when they realized that the speaker was the coach’s son was priceless, and shows that they knew exactly what he was talking about. That heartbreaking, poignant poem is my favorite.”

– Organizer, Williamstown, MA

Do you address Common Core and state standards?

Yes. I always contact teachers before my visit with a ‘menu’ of workshop choices (see it here) so I meet each teacher’s goals for the session and address state standards, and so that the kids are ready to get the most from my visit. Since I am a licensed elementary teacher in Vermont, this planning comes pretty naturally for me. I’m very familiar with the Common Core benchmarks, as they relate to writing, and even though poetry writing is not, sadly, a part of the Common Core, I work hard to teach the revision standards in my workshops. Poetry is super-great for teaching and reinforcing the importance of revising our work. So, yes! I do Standards!

“Thank YOU, Ted, for the lovely day you provided our students and teachers (as well as us PTO parents!). I know my girls read your poems this evening with renewed vigor, and it was very sweet to watch the children on the playground after school excitedly showing their newfound treasures (in the form of signed Ted Scheu books) to their parents. We are proud of our unique school and community and glad to have had the opportunity to share it with you!”

– PTO Parents, Edgewater, NJ

What can teachers/librarians do to prepare the kids?

I always send along a pile of my books to the library (with my compliments) a couple of months before I come, along with a planning timeline—to help us all get ready. So, introducing my work to the kids at least 3-4 weeks before the visit is a huge help. They should also check out as much of my website as possible. Some librarians have a webquest, where students have to find specific info by navigating through my website. A little prep work makes the whole visit richer and more memorable for everyone, especially the kids.

“Just wanted to let you know that I had an awful time trying to get out of the school Friday afternoon and it was all your fault! Everyone was stopping me to tell me how wonderful they thought the workshops and assembly were!! One of the teachers, who I remember was not very thrilled at the idea of poetry being the focus of our author visit, asked if it might be possible to have you come back next year. Now that is definitely a compliment. I even had parents coming up to me today to ask me all about it because their children had come home so excited about you! I must thank you for bringing your wonderful talent here to Morrisonville (not to mention for making me look good). It was truly a joy having you here. We would all recommend you very highly to any school who might be thinking about having you for a visiting author.”

– Organizer, Morrisonville, NY

Should we sell books and how do we do it?

Absolutely! I try to make the focus of my visit getting kids excited about writing. And making it too commercial isn’t helpful. But in my experience, once kids (and teachers) see the books, and hear me read from them, they often want their own autographed copies. Everyone misses out when an authorʼs books are not offered for sale. A book order requires a little time, organization and effort, but my amazing rep (Kerri Kunkel at www.childrensauthorsally.com) makes it super-easy. And a book order can also serve as a fundraiser for the school, since Kerri always gives 20% of sales back to the school to help pay for my visit.

“Two of my daughters attended the Young Writer’s Workshop last weekend. They had such a great time and were so inspired by your presentation and classes. They edited their poems from the day with you and wanted me to send them along so here they are (two attachments). Thanks so much for all you’ve done!!!!! What a special day for them – we really appreciate your time!”

– Organizer, Young Writer’s Conference, Ridgefield, CT

Should we sell books before the visit or after?

Kerri will provide you with a simple order form, so you can sell both before and/or after I come. I suggest selling before so I can sign them while I am there and so that the kids are more excited about the visit. Once I have had a marvelously fun day with you, very often even more interest in books is generated, so schools often send a book order home after my visit. We (Kerri and I) can usually arrange for me to sign these late books too and deliver them pretty quickly to you.

“I have to tell you that I have done Creative Arts for the school for 7 years and I have never worked with anyone as delightful as you. I do hope that the fourth-grade teachers have you back next year. I will do my best to share my enthusiasm with my counterparts across town. Our entire family has read all of your poetry books we brought home (cover-to-cover) and my son has dog-eared them. Also, I have had several emails from parents telling me how you have such an impact on their children. One boy, apparently, woke up at 11 looking for a notepad to jot down his poem ideas.”

– PTO organizer, Wellesley MA

What the best time of year to invite you?

 

I’ll come any time, in nearly any weather. But my inner-teacher voice strongly recommends you consider the fall for a visit/residency, so that the energy we generate, and the poetry writing lessons we enjoy, can be applied the entire school year ahead. If your school is in a warm climate, I’d especially love to be invited during the winter! It gets seriously snowy and cold in Vermont and I love to sneak away. Visits should be scheduled as far ahead as possible. I schedule many residencies months and years in advance. My schedule fills up faster and sooner every year.

“Dear Ted,

We just wanted to thank you again for the great week we shared with you at our school. The whole school is still buzzing with poetry and excitement. Thank you for all your hard work.”

– PTA Organizers, Scarsdale, NY

Great, Iʼm ready to book a date. Now what?

Give me, or Kerri, a call, or zip us an email, and we will get right back to you.

Kerri may be reached at www.childrensauthorsally.com and I may be reached via the Contact page here on my website.

And we can give you references from tons of happy schools.

We look forward to hearing from you. You will not be disappointed. In over a dozen years of doing school visits, and family events, I have yet to have a single disappointed school.

Here, for example, was an unsolicited (by me) comment from a lead teacher in Westchester City, NY to another school, who wanted to know how I worked. Of course, I can put you in touch with her, and others.

“Hi Abby,

AWESOME, ENGAGING, ENERGETIC, MOTIVATING, FUNNY AND INSPIRING are just a few of the adjectives that describe our “author in residence” program that Ted Scheu brought to our school. We had him for one week and each class met with him from 30-minutes to one hour twice during that week. His ability to enable even the most reluctant writer to take a risk and enjoy the magic of poetry was worth his time.

He is a master teacher who loves working with children. Each teacher as well as many students all commented on their experience. He geared his presentations and workshops to the needs of each grade level. We had input from all our teachers before he came and he integrated whatever they chose from his menu of lessons.

I can’t say enough about Ted’s ability to get children excited about poetry. I even wrote my own parting poem to share with him the day he left. Teachers had his books for about a month and shared them with their students so that they were prepared for his visit. Many children ordered his books and we bought copies for our library.

Hope your students have the same opportunity as we did. Feel free to call me if you have any other questions.”

Thanks!