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PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN AND ADULTS

Programs are personal, honoring questions from the audience, and story-based. Joan Verniero is dedicated to presenting children's literature as literature, more so than as tools for teaching concepts or issues. This is her philosophy even at the college level where she teaches Literature for Children. It is essentially that literature is a shared experience between the heart of the writer and the heart of the listener or reader. All school programs are geared to the developmental level of the audience. Joan prefers to speak to groups which have obtained copies of her book beforehand.

Teachers! Be sure to visit my "Just for Kids" page. You'll find crossword puzzles and a word scrambler based on my anthologies of myths and legends as well as on my upcoming book about the American Revolution. Context clues are given for each word.

SAMPLE STUDENT PROGRAMS:

1A) United No More! Stories of the American Civil:
Teachers, please see Workshops 1 and 2 below for educators. I will focus on how to tell an accurate, exciting story of a historical character and how to do the research for it, geared to middle-grade or high-school aged students.

1B) Victory or Death! Stories of the American Revolution:
Teachers, please see Workshops 1 and 2 below for educators. I will focus on how to tell an accurate, exciting story of a historical character and how to do the research for it, geared to middle-grade or high-school aged students.

2) You Can Call Me Willy: Story reading; question-and-answer opportunity; sharing of the process of bringing the book to print (presentation of various drafts of manuscripts and illustrations, discussions with editor). Appropriate for second half 1st through 4th grade. (1 hour)

3) 101 Read-Aloud Myths collections: Selection of sample myths by theme, such as "fire and lightning." Or selection by hero/ine. In both cases, discussion of mythology as a form of storytelling, followed by class storytelling experience. 3-6 grade. (1-1 1/2 hours)

4) The Writing Experience, or A Day in the Life of a Published Author. This workshop will describe for students in middle and high school grades what it takes to be a writer. Topics include: how to find the stories; how to keep the creative flow going; and techniques. (1-1 1/2 hours)

5) The Hero's Journey through Storytelling and Music: As desired, the stories can focus on a hero or heroine from one or more regions: Asia, the Celtic world, Greece, Rome, Scandinavia, Native America, Egypt, or India. Joan can also introduce a theme by contrasting myths from two regions or more. An example: There are several stories from China about Monkey. He was born from a rock and is a mischievous, immortal, shapeshifting hero. The hero's journey is from selfishness to self-understanding and empowerment. She uses the combination of music, storytelling and reading aloud to cover six Monkey myths. Joan invites students to participate with comments and questions.

Fees for Programs 1) to 5): $300-$650: Determined by the number of participants/classes.

SAMPLE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

WORKSHOPS:

Workshop 1: Research & Its Importance
1. Discussion of research techniques; e.g. print (including newspapers), Internet, primary research; the skills needed for each.
2. How to excite students to do quality research?
3. What kind of research do different literary genres require?
4. How to help students understand the research upon which fictional and non-fictional works depend? She will use examples from her experience as a writer in both areas.

Workshop 2: Historical Fiction
1. What comprises this literary genre?
2. The discussion will focus on historical fiction.
3. What elements need be "true"? Which can be fictionalized?
4. How to inspire students to recognize what is historical and what is fiction?

Workshop 3: Assessment of Students' Writing
1. How to lay down reasonable ground rules for "acceptable" writing?
2. Tools of encouragement, or how not to stifle creativity?
3. Building community and establishing an atmosphere of trust for new writers.
4. How to encourage the read-aloud process?

Workshop 4: Fact-Finding for Folklore, Non-Fiction, Fiction: Similarities and Differences: "Look it up." How many times have we heard this phrase? And passed it on to students? This workshop will explore how to develop useful questions as guideposts for the research process, whether the desired end be folklore, non-fiction or fiction. The workshop discusses when and how to assess one's research, and where to go from there in terms of genre. What if the writer doesn't know the intended genre at the beginning of the fact-finding process? Joan Verniero shares experience as a researcher and children's author and gives some tips to the undecided on how to determine the genre which best serves the research and the story.

Workshop 5: Children's Books as Literature; Children as Audience: Presentation of various books from cross-section of genres. Discussion of literary elements linked with child development stages to demonstrate both literary value of books and appropriateness of audience for each. Presentation of the "writing experience" which brings the books from the author to the child. (1-2 hours)

Workshops 1-5: Fees
One-hour workshop: $300
Two-hour workshop: $500

Workshop 6: How to bridge the gap between expository and creative writing, and How to encourage students to use factual material creatively?
This is a hands-on experience for staff and requires a longer session. Participants would select beforehand to express themselves through either expository or creative writing. The workshop will open with a read-aloud sharing by each participant of a one-to-two page passage she/he has brought which exemplifies published expository or creative writing. Each participant will then receive the same informational packet as the factual basis for the short expository or creative sample she/he will write during the workshop. Discussion will cover the differences between both types of writing, and, where they exist, the similarities, such as the use of exposition in both fiction and non-fiction.

Workshop 7: Unbiased Literature for Children
Without fair representation of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, age, physical capability and economic level, children's books not only tell lies, but they limit some young readers and listeners to visions of a future without hope. As author of unbiased books for children, Joan will discuss the subtlety of bias in literature. She will explore the danger of such bias for all children and how to look for bias in children's literature. Handouts will provide a collection of unbiased books for youngsters. Attendees will have the opportunity to identify bias in books and to react to unbiased literature. Range: picture books to Young Adult

Workshop 8: Chinese Mythology

I. Myths! Myths! Myths! (1st hour) There is no need to read every myth to be able to understand them. The large group breaks into groups of five (or six at the most). I choose three myths, of between 800 and 1,000 words, for each group to read aloud to one another. The myths are all from different periods and places of origin to provide a broad mix. The idea is to connect with the fact that myths are essentially oral literature and to encourage reading aloud.

After the readings, each small group discusses the themes in the myths they just shared. There is no correct answer and no pressure to this. The idea is for participants to connect with the abstract values of Chinese mythology. If time permits, the full group comes together again to share the identified themes and any similarities and differences that may appear."

II. Concepts & the Classroom (2nd hour)
This hour focuses on the myths of China for fourth graders. The audience is again divided into groups of five or six, (these can be the same as in hour one, or new groupings) with one person being responsible for taking notes. Their task will be to choose a concept from the list they'll receive and then identify whether or not the shared myths portray the concepts, and if so, how they do it. Concepts include:

Number, Distance
Color, Magic
Nature, Weather
Sky, Stars, Shapeshifting/Transformation
Animals Deities
Being Human
Duty/Love
Family
Other?

Workshop 9: The Writer's Journey - a road map for the well-written piece

Journey and Writing. The workshop offers participants the opportunity to investigate the writing process.

In her workshop, the author and educator addresses the following topics:
Where to Start?
How to Compose?
Where to Go?
How to Enjoy Writing As An Experience.

The workshop involves the following elements:
Exercise in finding your voice.
Oral Storytelling - a look at journey.
The Writer's Journey - a road map for the well-written piece.
Writing exercise.
A Critiquing session.
Question-and-Answer session.


Workshops 6-9: Fees
$350-$1,000: As determined by the amount of time desired and number of participants.

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