Invite an Author Program
"Because of my strong background in education - I was in the 'school biz' for over 10 years - I know what teachers and school librarians need from authors visiting their schools. So when I do a reading or performance, I add as much educational content as I can while still keeping the event light and fun. When reading a poem, for example, we might listen for rhyme, or alliteration, or outline the structure of a limerick. A look at the optical illusions in Boredom Blasters turned into a science lesson on light for a grade 9 class. And Funny Business is super for introducing lessons on how to structure essays.
Maximum audience size: no maximum
Preferred grade levels: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 12
The following is a list of "standard" presentations (tho' each one is always different!) I can tailor a professional workshop to meet the needs of your students or PD Day by combining curricular goals with fun and funny literary explorations. For rates and scheduling information, please email Authors Booking Service.
- The ‘She’s a Nut in a Good Way’ Classic (All Grades)
Always fun, always educational, always different! The ‘Classic’ includes hilarious poetry (such as the notorious giggle-inducer, “Ode to Underwear’) dramatic interactive readings from Looney Bay, impromptu story development and/or done-right-on-the-spot science experiments, all mixed with student Q&A and a hearty dose of curriculum linking. Presentations will be customized to your needs in terms of student age range (K – Grade 12), group size, and curriculum content. (50 minutes.)
- Stimulating Creativity in Your Students (for Junior Grade, Middle School and High School Students)
Get ready to laugh out loud in this fun and funny hands-on workshop on boosting lateral thinking. Using proven techniques used by writers, comedians and cartoonists, I'll unleash your students’ creative thinking skills and show you how to loosen up those uptight tweens and teens you call your students. Association lists, the magic grid, defeating the blank page, doodling, the world’s worst first sentence and more! (50 minutes; with lots of hands-on activities.)
(for Primary and Junior Students)
Get the most out of your literature units when your students apply some of the techniques presented in this workshop. Drawing on my knowledge as a writer of literacy materials for English Language Learners, I'll present a variety of ways to use poetry to build vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, grammar and imagination. Participants will enjoy a variety of humorous poems, used as examples to illustrate rhyme, rhythm, synonyms, homonyms, context clues, and more. (50 minute workshop.)
- Essay Writing: The Clown’s Way (for Junior and Middle Grade Students)
Who says writing an essay isn’t fun? In this squirting flower of a workshop, students will learn the art of essay writing through humour. Essays are structured exactly like jokes, comic strips or comedian’s monologues, so we use examples of each to teach the fine art of explication. You’ll begin the workshop by learning how to write your own standup comedy routine or to create a slapstick clown act. Then we’ll use the same principles to illustrate the steps of creating an effective essay that includes an introduction, body paragraphs with a topic sentence and three examples, and a wrap it up conclusion. (50 minute workshop.)
Professional Development Workshops for
Teachers and Administrators:
- Real Science (for All Grade Teachers)
Science isn’t about what an atom is or knowing that hot air rises. Science is the “art of curiosity.” In this very creative workshop, designed to spark the spirit of scientific inquiry in young minds, you will find out how to present science as a way of looking at the world. Convey the idea that science is something that all students, of all ages, can actively engage in, and you will create independent, critical thinkers while building true scientific literacy.
I was actively engaged in contemporary science education for more than fifteen years as a producer and distributor of science-related teaching materials. I have developed hundreds of teaching lessons on science curricular topics, ranging from Grade 1 to high school physics.
In this hands on 50 minute workshop, you‘ll do experiments drawn from my books that will show you how you can be a scientist today, right here and now, without a science degree or any special knowledge. All you’ll need is a sense of wonder and some scientific principles and language. Get ready to find out if you are psychic, and explore such important scientific questions such as, “do men fart more than women?” and “Where does bellybutton lint come from?”
- Collaborative Teaching: Making the Most of Your School Media Centre (for All Teachers, Librarians and Administrators)
In this workshop, you will learn about the ways an up-to-date media centre can enhance your school’s performance in all subject areas. Discover the role of the media specialist in developing integrated student projects that build research skills, critical thinking, creativity, character, and fact-based knowledge. You will find out how the media centre, when it is your school’s hub, can help students become more independent and more competent learners. Take away examples of powerful integrated lessons, checklists, evaluation rubrics, and other useful handouts.
Why am I teaching this particular workshop? I am the author of Collaborative Teaching in the Middle Grades, a detailed how-to on integrating current information science curriculum with science units. I am also on the steering committee for the Ontario Coalition for School Libraries, and have written a document for use in evaluating the effectiveness of your school media centre. (50 minutes.)
- Math Games for Spies, Wizards and other Interesting People (for Primary and Junior Grade Teachers)
Break codes, defeat man-eating spiders, solve a murder, out-swim a shark, and predict the future – using math! These super-fun games will build skills in logic, computation, spatial sense and more. (50 minute workshop.)
- The Power of Poetry (for Primary and Junior Grade Teachers)
Get the most out of your literature units when you learn some of the techniques presented in this workshop. Drawing on my knowledge as a writer of literacy materials for English Language Learners and as a teacher instructor,I'll present a variety of ways you can use poetry to build your students' vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, grammar and imagination. You'll enjoy a variety of humorous poems, used as examples to illustrate rhyme, rhythm, synonyms, homonyms, context clues, and more. Takeaways include black line masters. (50 minute workshop.)
- Essay Writing: The Clown’s Way (for Junior and Middle Grade Teachers)
Who says writing an essay isn’t fun? If your answer to this question is, "My class!", then you need this workshop.
Essays are structured exactly like jokes, comic strips or comedian’s monologues, so we use examples of each to teach the fine art of explication. You’ll begin the workshop by learning how to teach students to write their own standup comedy routine or to create a slapstick clown act. Then we’ll use the same principles to illustrate the steps of creating an effective essay that includes an introduction, body paragraphs with a topic sentence and three examples, and a wrap it up conclusion. It's as easy as pie in the face - really! (50 minute workshop.)
- Stimulating Creativity in Your Students (for Junior Grade, Middle School and High School Teachers)
Get ready to laugh out loud in this fun and funny hands-on workshop on boosting lateral thinking. You'll discover proven techniques used by writers, comedians and cartoonists that you can reproduce in the classroom in the blink of an eye. You'll learn how to unleash your students’ creative thinking skills and how to loosen up those uptight tweens and teens you call your students. Association lists, the magic grid, defeating the blank page, doodling, the world’s worst first sentence and more! (50 minutes; with lots of hands-on activities.)
Praise for Helaine Becker's School and Library Presentations
"Guardian Angels School had the pleasure of hosting Helaine Becker on Friday, January 24, 2014 to help celebrate Family Literacy Day. Helaine has written such a variety of books that she was able to entertain and inform audiences from K to Grade 8. And entertain she did. There is a certain skill to keeping a grade 7 and 8 audience spellbound for one hour and not just spellbound but willing to answer and ask questions. The presentations varied according to the age level of the audience and all the presentations were well received. Helaine was able to give the students many practical suggestions about how to write a great story. Her presentations were very humourous but also informative. The students and staff all commented afterwards on how wonderful it was to have an author visit the school. I would recommend having Helaine visit your school for a presentation. You will be sure to laugh!"
--Lori McCannel, Teacher Librarian, Guardian Angels School
Thursday, June 3, 2010
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter of reference in support of author and speaker, Helaine Becker to outline to you the exceptionally positive experience we had when Helaine visited Niagara.
Each year, grade 5 and 6 students from the District School Board of Niagara who have participated in school book clubs gather together to celebrate reading with our Silver Birch Celebration of Literacy Student Conference. This year, the organizing committee invited Helaine to participate as the keynote speaker and workshop presenter. This involved a keynote address of about 45 minutes in length for an audience of 500 students and their teachers and parent volunteers. As well, following the keynote, Helaine was asked to do two identical 45 minute workshops for approximately 25 students about the writing process.
Helaine’s keynote address was exceptional – in fact, I would consider it one of the best we have experienced in our 5 years of organizing this conference. Her presentation was a mixture of hilarious stories, life lessons and advice to aspiring writers. She was able to ensnare the whole audience and keep them riveted for the entire length of her talk. Students, parents and teachers all raved about it afterward, and on our feedback forms, Helaine consistently rated very highly.
While I didn’t attend Helaine’s workshops, I do understand from both adults and students who participated that they were equally exceptional and offered the students an opportunity to meet a ‘real live author’ face to face and interact with her on a familiar level. The students felt at ease with her and were kept entertained by her wacky sense of humour.
We are sincerely hoping that Helaine is nominated for another Silver Birch Award this coming year so that we are able to invite her back again to the conference. We would absolutely and without reservation highly recommend Helaine Becker as a speaker for your next event!"
- Kelly Diiorio Consultant: School Libraries and Educational Resources, District School Board of Niagara
“Helaine was a guest author at a meeting of our Junior Book Club and was very entertaining and friendly. Although it was a small audience of varying ages, Helaine made everyone feel welcome and built up a quick rapport with the children. She was also very pleasant to deal with on a professional level and we would have no hesitation in inviting her back to visit our library.”
— J. Salmon, Manager of Children and Youth Services, Barrie Public Library
“Ms. Becker was an excellent presenter. She was very animated and lively, making the students pay very close attention to her. Ms. Becker also got the children listening very carefully when she asked them to rate (thumbs up or thumbs down) some of her new material. Of course she had thumbs sticking up in the air when she read a poem about underwear! The staff and students at St. Thomas School enjoyed their visit with Ms. Becker. Her books appeal to all students, especially the boys with a sports theme throughout her Looney Bay series.”
— M. Richardson, Teacher, St. Thomas School (Waterdown, Ontario)
“The students all loved her great sense of humour as well as her enthusiasm. I know that we all benefited from her visit to our school and we would love to have her back soon.” — G. Wong, Teacher-Librarian, Castlemore Public School, York Region District School Board “Her rapport with the children was excellent and she was very patient with their many questions. She held their attention when she spoke and the children were delighted to learn of the different aspects of writing a book. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Helaine as a touring author and I would be delighted to have her visit again.” — J. Baril, Carleton Place Public Library “Ms. Becker presents material in a fun and accessible way for children. Pulling tidbits from a variety of her books, Ms. Becker entertained the children in an appropriate way. Her strategies included using a puppet when the crowd became restless, a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” rating system for her hilarious poetry, and soliciting ideas by email for future books. She inspired the children and at the same time, left them wanting more. ... Helaine Becker is an excellent speaker. I have attended dozens of author visits for children and Ms. Becker is among the best. I hope we will be able to bring her back to the Cambridge Libraries to visit and speak again in the near future.”
— B. Maddigan, Children's Service Coordinator, Cambridge Libraries
“Helaine brought a down to Earth, human element to the role of “author” for our students and the enthusiasm she shared about her career as a children’s author allowed the students to view writing as a fun and carefree activity. Helaine’s presentation was engaging from the start and she held the children captivated in the palm of her hand for the duration of the hour. The puppet was a hit and she spoke/sang/chanted in an animated manner so that the children felt inclined to join the fun! The presentation included a range of her poetry, fiction and nonfiction that the primary students all enjoy from the school library. Within Helaine’s collection of writing there is something for every student. In particular, I have been able to “hook” many reluctant male readers with both the Looney Bay All Star series and the nonfiction books like Boredom Blasters.“ — L. Bafaro, Teacher Librarian, Crestwood School (Toronto, Ontario) “It can be pretty daunting to keep a gym-full of 9-12 year olds engaged, but Helaine was up to the challenge. The students enjoyed hearing her speak and she eagerly answered their questions with gusto and frankness. “
— D. Maliszewkisi, Teacher-Librarian, Agnes MacPhail Public School, Toronto District School Board
“She had an instant rapport with the students and used humour to capture and maintained their attention for the entire hour that she spoke. As a successful writer of poetry, fictional adventure novels and non-fiction texts she has great experience to describe the process of writing to students very well. Her experience with publishing and making presentations was evident. She tailored her presentation to suit the needs at our school very well.“ — M. Jensen, Teacher-Librarian, Trillium Woods Elementary School, Simcoe County District School Board “Helaine Becker presented at Fern Hill School on November 14th, 2008 in three separate sessions: Preschool to Senior Kindergarten, Grade One to Grade Three and Grade Four to Grade Five. In each session she chose age appropriate material and engaged the children in all three presentations. The children loved her sense of humour and her ability to relate to the kids is evident.“
— D. Bell, Assistant Director, Primary Division, Fern Hill School (Oakville, Ontario)
To arrange for a reading or
event at your location, please contact