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Archive for the month “November, 2013”

A School Visit

During the summer, I was able to chat via Twitter with author Liesl Shurtliff. Liesl is the author of the acclaimed “true story” of RUMP! I asked her if she was ever to come out to Utah that maybe…just maybe she might visit my school. I thought this was a long shot since Salt Lake City is so far away from where I live in Southern Utah.

She replied that her family was living in Southern Utah…40 miles away…and that “sure, I think I could make it down when I visit.”

I was excited. Super excited. Actually I was ecstatic!

Fast forward several months. I received the message that she was planning to come and that I needed to set up the schedule and order some books.

She agreed to visit and do a writing activity with each grade level (3, 4, 5, and an extended learning program for 40 minutes).

The Extended Learning Program (which basically allows for an extension for kids who need it) created banners for her visit.


Student rendition of the book on a banner.


Another rendition.


A student-made “Welcome Sign”.

I also ordered books and we sold 46 copies. What’s awesome is the Liesl signed each copy.


When she came to our school, she was ready to visit students and work in classrooms. Here are some pictures of her visits to classrooms. It was incredible.

Liesl doing a writing activity on "showing, and not telling".

Liesl doing a writing activity on “showing, and not telling”.

Liesl conferring with a student writer. This was awesome to see being modeled by a nationally-published author!

Liesl conferring with a student writer. This was awesome to see being modeled by a nationally-published author!

Writers writing. The stories were hilarious!

Writers writing. The stories were hilarious!

We went out to lunch and talked writing, books, and of course The Nerdy Book Club!

She came back and worked with a few more grade levels…and read out of her book for the third grade students. Awesome.

How was I able to do this? How was I able to ask, coordinate, and execute this visit?

I built a relationship with Liesl. I believe we are friends now. Relationships are key when bringing authors into the classroom and into the school. It really is all about relationships. I am going to talk more about building these relationships in other posts because I believe this the key and through this students really do benefit from it.



What the heck is a “Nerdlution”? Well, it seems as if you are part of the Nerdy Book Club then almost everything has to have the word “nerdy” in it. A group of us on Twitter have made it a resolution to write more and others to exercise more. Mine is to write more. My hope is to write a book…but we will see what happens with that. I am going to use this to share my story.

My nerdlution is to also write on this blog more frequently.

To share my story.

I was able to go to NCTE this last week. In Boston. Yes, it was a great time just like last year. I will post pictures soon. The one thing that I took away personally was that I have a story to share and tell. I talked with Ruth Ayres and she said the same thing. I talked to Lee Anne Spillane and she said the same thing. “Yes, but is it your story?” I just don’t want to repeat the same thing. That is my fear.

One night I sat in the lobby area of the Sheraton, and my friend Donalyn Miller sat beside me. I asked, “I really want to write a book but I am afraid that everything has been said.” She turned to me and said, “John, how many times has the song Yesterday (by the Beatles) ┬ábe sung by different artists?” “A lot”, I replied. It’s true. There are a lot of books about writing, reading, classroom structures, ideas…but are these my ideas? Would someone out there like to read and hear my ideas?


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