Author Visit Evaluations

Inspired by a few recent posts offering advice on school visits, I’m adding one of my own shortcuts to the list of tips for LJ writer friends.

SurveyMonkey is a free, online tool that allows you to create surveys that you can send to teachers and librarians after a school visit.  I used the site to put together a simple survey asking people to rate statements like these…

The planning and communication before this author visit was timely and efficient.
The author established a rapport with staff and students.
The presentation was educational and entertaining for students.
The presentation and/or workshops met the school’s needs and aligned with curriculum.
The honorarium and travel expenses were reasonable and a good value.
I’d recommend this author for school visits.

You can set up whatever multiple choice responses you like, but I included a matrix like this for each statement:

strongly agree
somewhat agree
somewhat disagree
strongly disagree
don’t know/not involved in this aspect of visit

I also included a place where people could comment on the best part of the presentation and offer suggestions for improvement, as well as a form for general comments.  One last question asks respondents if I have permission to use their comments on my website or other materials for teachers who may be interested in author visits.

Because it’s an online survey, many people find it easier and quicker than filling out and mailing back paper surveys.

What about you?  How do you get feedback about your school visits & other presentations?

Thank you, Ogdensburg and NCCIRA!

Yesterday was one of those school visit days that writers dream about when their first book is released.  I spent the day at Madill and Kennedy Elementary Schools in Ogdensburg, NY and spoke to about 400 4th, 5th, and 6th graders — all of whom had read at least part of Spitfire

My morning drive started at 5am so I could get to Madill Elementary for an 8:15 presentation.  Madill students share their artwork in displays all over the cafeteria, where I was waiting for my presentation to begin.  I loved seeing all their creations, but this project has to be one of my favorites of all time…

A young lady named Madison introduced me to kids who had fantastic questions about researching historical novels, Spitfire, and the  American Revolution.  They especially liked sampling the hardtack and watching a classmate try to disguise herself in 18th century boys’ clothing like my character, Abigail, did.

Then it was off to Kennedy Elementary, where I was introduced by Nathaniel, who has read more books than anybody else at Kennedy this year.  Seriously, Nathaniel was one of the students who joined me for lunch in the library — I couldn’t find anything he hasn’t read.  The Kennedy kids were fantastic, too. Doesn’t this look like an enthusiastic bunch?

Special thanks to librarians Karen Wright and Mark Uebler, who took care of me and got me from place to place on time.  Mark even greeted me with a special welcome on the library door.

After school, it was off to SUNY Potsdam, where I was the speaker for the North Country Council of the International Reading Association’s spring dinner.  I talked about historical fiction with some of the most enthusiastic, committed teacher-readers I’ve ever met.  And… they had this gooey, amazing chocolate cake for dessert.  Fantastic company, book talk, and chocolate cake.  Really, what more could an author want?

Thanks so much, reading association folks, especially Cindy Wells, for organizing my visit.  Congratulations to  Cindy, too – she’s the incoming president of the NYS Reading Association. Wow! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ogdensburg kids and teachers, for a fantastic day! 

Yay, Loree!

The kids at my school are still talking about plastic tub toys, floating sneakers, the garbage patch, and reducing their use of plastics, thanks to a phenomenal author visit with Loree Griffin Burns this week. 

Loree held the kids spellbound with her fascinating, high energy presentation on Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion.  They’re hungry for more high-interest nonfiction now and are waiting (impatiently) for Loree’s next book on honeybees.  Thanks,

, for a great, great day with our students!

And a related note that writers, especially, will appreciate…  Loree and I went out to dinner Sunday night to talk writing for a couple hours.  We ended up at a Japanese steakhouse where they have hibachi tables.  Our waitress came over at the end of the meal and remarked that they’d never, in the history of the restaurant, seen two people just keep gabbing away like we did while the guy at the grill was tossing knives and spatulas in the air.  In our defense, we did pause to say “Oooh…Ahh….” when he made the flaming volcano out of the onion…

A visit with Linda Urban

My middle school students had a fabulous day with guest author Linda Urban (

), talking about A Crooked Kind of Perfect, writing, setting goals, and having the courage to follow dreams.  If you ever — ever — have an opportunity to host Linda at your school, sign on the dotted line without delay.  She’s an amazing presenter who left kids laughing as well as feeling inspired and appreciated.  I took lots of photos, but I think this one might be my favorite –

Linda  spent our after school  period signing books in the school library, answering questions from kids, and listening — really, really listening — to their ideas about her book and their own goals and dreams.  Thanks, Linda, for a fantastic day!

 Tomorrow, I’ll be on the other side of the author visit, sharing Spitfire and presenting my Revolution program to middle school kids in Colchester and students in the after-school program in Brandon, Vermont.  I’ll post on our 18th century adventures later this week!

Guess who’s coming to lunch…

My middle school students are getting a dream team of visiting authors this month. 

This Wednesday, Linda Urban (

) will spend the day with us, talking about A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT and her writing life.

And on March 31, Loree Griffin Burns (

) will visit to talk trash — TRACKING TRASH — with our middle school kids.

Are you jealous yet?

Meanwhile, HUGE congratulations are in order for both Linda and Loree today!   Both of their books have been selected as finalists for Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award.  Kids in Vermont will read as many books from the list as possible, and then they’ll vote to choose the winner next spring.  For the full list of 2008-2009 DCF titles, visit the blog of Steve Madden, librarian extraordinaire at Camels Hump Middle School.   It’s a fantastic, fantastic  list — one that will make you want to be a Vermont student, too.