SCHOOL VISITS / PRESENTATIONS
I'd love to come to your school and talk about my favorite subject: writing! I enjoy talking to students about writing, revising and not being afraid to put thoughts on paper. My highly interactive school presentations focus on:
Writing as a way to help students explore the importance of their own life stories.
Revising as way to continually improve - to try harder, to go deeper, to do better.
Critiquing as a way to learn about what it is you've written.
All presentations focus, in an encouraging and positive way, on the unique talents each student brings to his or her work.
Workshops can be adapted for grades K-12
Packing a Writer's Toolbox
You'll need more than paper, pens and pencils. Don't forget to pack your imagination, emotions, observations and - most importantly - your writer's voice. It is what makes you unique.
Growing a Book - From Idea to Publication:
Starting with early drafts and preliminary sketches, I guide students through the process of writing, revising, selling and producing a book.
I work with students on how to research and write about historical events in a personal and meaningful way.
Sharing Our Lives
Everyone has a story to tell. Writing exercises help students explore the importance of their own life stories.
I have shared my writing workshops with students in the Chicago Public Schools, Rockford Public Schools, New Trier High School and numerous suburban districts. I have been a guest reader on the cable television show "Step Into a Story," as well as a guest on local radio.
I have been a guest author at Mayor Daley's Principal for a Day Program, several Young Author Conferences, the West 40 Writing Competition and at The Illinois Center for the Book in Springfield, Illinois. I have also served as a professional development speaker for the Chicago Public Schools.
I have a B.A. from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and a master's degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
I have a Chicago Public School vendor code.
I currently serve as Program Co-Chair for Illinois chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).
What students and teachers say...
"You have filled my head with lots of wonderful ideas. I hope you come back!" - 5th Grade Student
"Your presentation was most interesting and informative; comments from both students and staff members are glowing." - School Librarian
"Janet shared her approach to creative writing with our high school dance students. Ms. Nolan's lively, warm demeanor quickly engaged our students and engendered conversation about writing, description, and motion. Her image-based approach to writing draws connections between how people feel and how they move, helping our students in their search for meaningful, non-clichéd movement." - High School Teacher
"Even though I dream of becoming a baseball player, I like what you said about writing." - 3rd Grade Student
I would love to visit your school. Please contact me for further information.
CLASSROOM or HOME ACTIVITIES
(in conjunction with my books)
A brief history of the lightbulb ...more info
In 1901 Mr. Dennis Bernal, owner of the Livermore Power and Light Company, gave the volunteer firefighters of Livermore, California, a four-watt lightbulb, made of carbon filament and hand-blown glass. The lightbulb was placed above the town's firefighting equipment, where it helped firefighters find their equipment in the dark.
It has been burning ever since.
No one knows for sure why the lightbulb has lasted so long. It might be because the bulb has hardly ever been turned off or it might be the lack of wear and tear. Today the lightbulb hangs from a single cord twenty feet above the ground in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department's Station #6. The lightbulb has its own backup generator to protect it during power outages, and its own webcam and Web site: www.centennialbulb.org
For more than one hundred years of American history, through tragedies and triumphs, the firehouse light has glowed.
A Father's Day Thank You ...more info
A brief history of Father's Day
In 1909, while listening to a Mother's Day sermon, Sonora Smart Dodd, daughter of widower William Jackson Smart, decided she wanted to honor her father. The first Father's Day celebration took place the following year in Spokane, Washington. In 1926, a Father's Day committee was formed in New York City. Father's Day was recognized by a joint resolution of Congress in 1956. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation acknowledging Father's Day. In 1972 President Richard Nixon established that the national observance of Father's Day was to be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.
1. Draw a picture, or write a story, about something you and your father, grandfather, uncle or guardian enjoy doing and why it is important to you.
Write about playing a game together.
Write about cooking a meal together.
Write about reading books together.
Write about building, fixing or decorating something together.
2. Write an acrostic poem Here's how: Write out your father, grandfather, uncle or guardian's name (acrostically) vertically. Fill in using words that describe the person.
R- Really fun!
Don't forget - it's okay to say "Thank you" 365 days a year!
The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh ...more info
A brief history of the Potato Famine:
In 1845, the potato was the main source of food in rural Ireland. When a fungus rotted the potatoes, many people went hungry. Between 1845 and 1851, an estimated one million people died of starvation. During the same time, another million immigrated to America.
Those who survived the difficult journey across the Atlantic Ocean began new lives in the United States, helping to shape American society.
1. Think of a favorite possession. Remember, the only thing Fergus had was a branch from a blackthorn tree. Write about why this possession is important to you. Then write what you would say about this possession if you were to give it to someone else. Imagine the stories that might be told as your gift is passed down, the same way Fergus's shillelagh was, from generation to generation.
A rock picked up on a trip
A dried flower
A favorite book
A story or poem you wrote
A favorite teddy bear, blanket, doll or other item from childhood
2. Draw a picture of something that has been given to you by a friend or relative. Write about the object focusing on why having something someone had before you is meaningful.
Baseball mitt handed down by older brother or sister
Small piece of jewelry handed down from friend or relative
Any article of clothing
Beloved book passed along by parent or grandparent
Doll or toy handed down by family member or friend
3. Write a story about something that happened to you, focusing on how the experience influenced your life.
Moving to a new town
Learning to ride a bicycle
Playing an instrument for the first time
Going on your first camping trip
Trying out for a team - making the team/not making the team
Trying out for a play - making the play/not making the play
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