Real History—Real People
Presentation 1: Resilient Tillie Pierce and the Battle of Gettysburg
Someone today’s teens can relate to—and learn something about their own resilience.
When I discovered the story of Tillie Pierce of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I knew her story would resonate with young people. Her experiences, told in her own voice, make the events of surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863) come alive. I remind teens that they never know how strong they are until they have to face adversity. Like Tillie did. I tell them they can be resilient in the face of difficulties.
Who was Tillie Pierce?
Matilda Jane (Tillie) Pierce was born in Gettysburg in 1848, the youngest of four children. She was thirteen years old when the Civil War began and fifteen when the Union and Confederate troops converged in her hometown in 1863. She witnessed the sounds, the images, the smells, the destruction of a three-day battle that included 160,000 troops in and around her town of 2,400 citizens. Even after the battle ended, Tillie and the other residents worked for months to clean up the grounds and tend to the wounded.
About the Presentation
Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness at the Battle of Gettysburg includes Tillie’s own words, many Library of Congress photographs, maps, and other details, which I will show during the session. My goal is to give students not only plenty of information, but also a feel for this historic time. At the end, I’ll show some photos of Gettysburg today, including Tillie’s house, which is still standing. My presentation covers Tillie’s story—her very personal story of the Battle of Gettysburg, its aftermath, and Lincoln’s famous speech.
For grades 4 and up; 60 minutes
Presentation 2: So You Think You Know Dr. Seuss
The Best-Known Writer and Illustrator of Children’s Books
If there is one author every student knows, it’s Dr. Seuss, aka Theodor Geisel. They’ve read The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, and probably seen the TV shows and movies developed from his books. Sure, they know his books, but they probably don’t know much about the man who became the beloved Dr. Seuss.
I’ll share several stories and plenty of facts about Ted Geisel, from his childhood in Massachusetts through his careers in advertising, the U.S. Army, and publishing. His is a story of perseverance, creativity, standards of excellence, and just a bit of shyness.
This presentation is especially suited for Read Across America Week in March, always the week of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 2. http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm
Grades 3–5; 45 min
Presentation 3: Writing Matters
One of the questions students often ask when given a writing assignment is: WHY? They need to know why writing—all kinds of writing—is important and not just “busy work.” I’ll talk to them about the steps everyone takes as a writer: researching, writing, revising, proofreading, and (hopefully) publishing. Then we’ll discuss how in today’s electronic world, there are more opportunities to write than ever before. As a former teacher and now as an editor and author, I can reinforce what you’ve been telling them all along: good writing matters and it doesn’t just happen in a first draft.
I can give them ideas for ways to share their writing while they’re still students, as well as offer suggestions for careers in which writing is a key skill. From journalism to social media to marketing and way beyond, I’ll show how being a strong writer can make them successful—and fulfilled—for the rest of their lives.
I hope to get them excited about the entire process of creating a work that is theirs—and give them ideas about how to share (publish) their work with others. We will work on beginning a class anthology that I’ll invite them to share with me when it’s complete. I’ll get them started, and you can help them apply the writing process as they finish their works.
Grades 4 and up; 60 min
Presentation 4: How Books Are Published
Most of us want to be published someday. Students share that wish, too. I can take some of the mystery out of the process by sharing many of the things I’ve learned as both an editor and a writer. We will talk about the whole process, from having an idea for a book through all the stages of book writing, editing, design, production, and printing.
I’ll have some samples to share with the class, including unbound galleys, manuscripts, edited (marked up) pages, samples of page proofs from a printer, and much more.
Grades 4 and up; 60 min