Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Dare to Dream ... Change the World Annual Writing Contest for KIDS!


The Dare to Dream ... Change the World 
Annual Writing Contest 
for students grades three to eight will launch January 25th!  

Grand prize winner receives $1500 worth of Kane Miller and Usborne books for a library of their choice
the top 30 poets will be published by Kane Miller Books 
in a free e-book!

The Dare to Dream … Change the World Annual Writing Contest for Kids aims to promote literacy, poetry writing, and nonfiction research while inspiring students to follow their dreams.
It’s based on the award-winning Dare to Dream … Change the World (Kane Miller Books, 2012), which pairs biographical and inspirational poems about people who invented something, stood for something, said something, defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.


WHO: For students in 3rd through 8th grade.

WHAT: Following the format of the book, students will write a biographical poem and non-fiction paragraph about someone who not only dreamed, but who took action and made the world better.

HOW: Send your entry by e-mail to daretodreamchangetheworld@gmail.com, subject line of “DARE TO DREAM Writing Contest.” Be sure to include your first name only, your e-mail address and your parents’ e-mail address. 

Download a FREE Curriculum Guide for Dare to Dream…Change the World at www.daretodreamchangetheworld.com

DEADLINE: April 30, 2013

The winner of the Dare to Dream … Change the World Annual Writing Contest for Kids will make others’ dreams come true by earning $1,500 worth of Kane Miller and Usborne books for either their own school library or a library of their choice.

Additionally, Kane Miller will make 30 student writers’ dreams come true by professionally publishing their work. Kane Miller will publish these top entries in an e-book that will be free for all to read, for all to be inspired.

Ellen Hopkins*Jane Yolen*Joyce Sidman*J. Patrick Lewis* Marilyn Singer
Georgia Heard*Alice Schertle*Lisa Wheeler*Julia Durango*Joyce Lee Wong
David L. Harrison*Elaine Magliaro*Hope Anita Smith*Carol Tanzman*Alan Katz
Rose Horowitz*Hope Vestergaard*Jacqui Robbins*Jill Corcoran*Denise Lewis Patrick*
Joan Bransfield Graham* Laura Purdie Salas*Curtis Crisler*Kelly Fineman*
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer*Stephanie Hemphill*Rebecca Kai Dotlich*Janet Wong*
Lee Bennett Hopkins*Bruce Coville 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Teacher-Grants and Authors—Why We Should Care: Part 4 of the #CCSS Curriculum Guide Series

Teacher-Grants and Authors—Why We Should Care

One of the things I hear from teachers is, “I’d love to teach your book, but my district has absolutely no money.”  As a sixth-grade English teacher in California, it’s a situation I know well.  Budgets are frozen, and where we once had department or library funds, we now have nothing.  We haven’t even THOUGHT about purchasing new textbooks for years now.
But as an author and a teacher, it’s important to know that there ARE ways to get money for books: grants.  I know, I know; you hear that word and think of research and forms and painstaking writing.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Recently, I fell in love with Jill Corcoran’s book, Dare to Dream . . . Change the World.   Having worked for nearly a decade in educational publishing and developed curriculum for many companies, I couldn’t wait to use the poems in that book as the backdrop for an awesome poetry unit.  A friend and I developed a teacher’s guide for it (insert link) and I was all set. Except I needed more books.  I needed a grant and I needed it quickly.

Where do I find grant money?
My school is great about letting teachers know about grant opportunities.  Our local rotary club and even some businesses give out yearly grants.  The grant that I applied for was through Delta Kappa Gamma Society that awards money to women educators.  But there are also TONS of grants available online.  Check out this site:  http://www.donorschoose.org/teachers.  Teachers request money for a certain project and people who want to support teachers donate to those projects they think are worthy.  It’s really easy.  

But isn’t writing a grant difficult and time-consuming?
It took me about half an hour.  I just described what I wanted to do.  I came up with a catchy title and then laid out why I wanted these books and why students were going to benefit from them.  I had to put in a few prices and do a little math but then it was done.  Two weeks later, I had the money I needed to buy enough copies of Dare to Dream. . . Change the World to use in my classroom.
And here’s another cool part.  Some companies, like Kane-Miller (Dare to Dream’s publisher), have  MATCHING GRANT programs.  Kane-Miller matches 50% from the first dollar, however when you reach the $200 mark, you benefit from free shipping.   To find out if a book’s publisher has such a program, it’s a simple phone call to their distributor. For Kane-Miller the number is 1-800-611-1655.

But I’m an author, not a teacher.  So why do I care?
It’s good to know about some of the grants available in your area.  Know if your publisher offers matching grants or discounts for teachers. So when a teacher says, “I love your book but I don’t have enough funds to get a class set,” or “I’d love to have you come speak at my school but we don’t have the money,” you can immediately say, “Have you thought about applying for this grant?”  and you might even have the form available for them!

In addition, consider having a well-written, CCSS-aligned teacher guide for your book.  We’ve seen recently how influential teachers and librarians are when it comes to promoting kid’s literature.  Every step you can take to make your book more classroom-friendly makes it that much more likely that a teacher will look at your book over the competition. 

This post was written by Erin Fry, Teacher, Curriculum Creator and Author of LOSING IT, Amazon Children's Publishing
"Fry has a great ear for middle school dialogue, and her light, humorous touch will ensure that readers keep turning the pages until the uplifting conclusion." School Library Journal

 CLICK HERE to read Part 3 of the #CCSS Curriculum Guide Series

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Creating Your CCSS-Aligned Curriculum Guide: Part 3 of the #CCSS Curriculum Guide Series

Where do I begin?

Your Common Core State Standards (CCSS) document—get to know the standards for your target age group.  Note that the standards range from basic understanding to deep analysis (purposely reflecting Bloom's Taxonomy).  Pick 5-8 standards that you think you can cover in your curriculum guide - you don't need to touch on ALL the standards as students have the entire year to meet their grade-level CCSS.

Get organized!

Figure out what sections to include in your curriculum guide.  As a teacher, here's what is most useful:

Click on pic to see a CCSS Curriculum Guide
 - a Prior Knowledge section with discussion or writing prompts that students complete BEFORE they begin reading.  A good prompt relates students' prior experiences to themes in the book, and gets them excited and motivated to read.  For Dare to Dream . . . Change the World, a poetry anthology, we have students find examples of poetry in commercials, songs, greeting cards, and nursery rhymes so they realize poetry is all around them!

- a Vocabulary section that includes a list, with definitions, of  grade-level vocabulary students will encounter in the novel.  In addition, it is really helpful to have a handout where students decipher new words in context (using phrases from the novel).  Here's an example from a "Context Clue" handout for Losing It that teachers are loving: “You have to drink when you run, Bennett.  No wonder your head hurts! Most headaches are caused by dehydration, you know.” Dehydration might mean . . .

- Chapter Questions that help students process important themes, while hitting key Common Core Standards. A good set of questions spiral from basic understanding to analysis, and vary in what they ask the student to do. For instance, students might draw a response, complete a graphic organizer, or write a mini-dialogue from the perspective of a character.  Here is a sample prompt for Laurie Halse Anderson’s CHAINS:
Create simple sketches for Elihu Lockton, Curzon, and Isabel. Add a large speech bubble to each character. Write the words, “The real meaning of liberty is . . .” at the top of each speech bubble. Then, do the following:
·         Finish the opening sentence from the perspective of the character.
·         Support your claim with examples or evidence from the text.
·         Provide a concluding statement that summarizes your position.

- a Pulling It All Together section where students take what they've learned from your book and do something with it.  It can be a writing assignment, a project, a debate etc. Given the push for informational text in the CCSS, this is an ideal place to include some nonfiction reading to supplement your book.  For Losing It, we researched and wrote our own text about bullying and then guided students through a debate about what should be done with bullies in schools.   

Get Writing!

It takes some time to create a good curriculum guide, but it's well worth it if you want teachers to be able to simply pick up your book and teach it!  Books that are chosen by teachers for their classrooms have longevity, as well, since teachers tend to use them year after year.  

Nicole and Erin, both teachers and curriculum developers, can help!  You can contact us as commoncorespecialists@gmail.com if you have questions or would like us to create a curriculum guide for your book.

CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of the #CCSS Curriculum Guide Series

Sign up for A PATH TO PUBLISHING online face-to-face writing workshops. Wether you choose the NOVEL TRACK or the PICTURE BOOK TRACK, our goal is ensure you understand concept, plotting, character development, scene development, action and emotional arc development, as well has how to pitch your work to agents, editors, and readers.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

SATURDAY, Jan 19: Lunch, Tea and ME! Limited to 12-15 people

How To Hook An Agent
Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency
Sat., Jan. 19
11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $200 (Includes one-on-one consultation, lunch, snacks, and tea)
Location: Writing Pad East, 10445 Wilshire Blvd in Westwood
Limited to 12-15 people

presented by Marilyn Friedman
Writing Pad
gourmet writing classes at sweet low prices


You have a brilliant new YA or middle grade novel or picture book that you want to put out there (or an idea for one), but you're not sure how to land an agent and get it published. Have no fear, Jill Corcoran, literary agent extraordinaire is here! Through an informative craft talk and fun in-class exercises, she'll give you the inside scoop on how to present your work in the best possible light and how to craft a book that will sell. She will teach you what you need to know so you don’t make the rookie mistakes and show you how to make your work stand out. You’ll even get a one-on-one consultation with Jill and get feedback on an advance submission of your work in the afternoon! By the end of this class, you'll walk away with a plan that's certain to get your foot in the door.

Children's Book and YA Section
Instructor: Jill Corcoran
Saturday, January 19, 2013
11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $200 (Includes one-on-one consultation, snacks, gourmet lunch, and tea)
Location: Writing Pad West

About Jill Corcoran:
Jill Corcoran is an Agent with the Herman Agency primarily representing children's books. She joined the agency 3 years ago and has sold over 60 books plus recently signed her first movie deal. Her clients include Robin Mellom, Janet Gurtler, Martha Brockenbrough, Kelly Milner Halls, Ralph Fletcher, & Jen Arena. With an English degree from Stanford University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from the University of Chicago, Jill has marketed everything from sneakers to cereal at Leo Burnett Advertising, LA Gear, Mattel, and at her own consulting company, LAUNCH! New Product Marketing. Her current interests include: high concept Young Adult and Middle Grade Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedies, and Adventure manuscripts. Jill is also the editor of “Dare To Dream…Change The World” (Kane Miller, 2012), a poetry anthology which includes Ellen Hopkins, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, & Lee Bennett Hopkins.


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