As a teacher and an author, one of Lori’s most favorite things to do is to visit classrooms and schools. She loves getting kids excited about writing, but it is also a time when, she herself, feels inspired by the children.
How to be a Dog: Writing Creative Canine Stories! (K-6) Based on story, On My Way. Get ready to bark and yowl! This hand-on workshop will lead students to creating authentic dog characters. Younger students will be engaged in choral reading/sound effects/movement during storytelling. To get into the mind of a dog, students will be taught how to use their Writer’s Toolbox (power verbs, show not tell, sensory details.) Students will brainstorm what a pup sees, hears, feels, tastes and smells. For longer assemblies, students will use these descriptions as the beginning of a group short story: My Life as a Dog.
Lights, Camera, Action! Making Your Stories Come Alive! (1-4) based on story, On My Way. Students will discuss what makes a good story and be encouraged to analyze story during storytelling. students will be taught how to use their Writer’s Toolbox (power verbs, show not tell, sensory details.) Students and author will retell the story using choral reading/sounds/movement. Students will chart sounds and actions to prepare for their own exciting stories.
What’s in Your Character’s Pocket? (3-6) Based on story, So Many Legs and/or The Donut Lady. Students will discuss the parts of a story. Author will introduce the difference between a character/ plot driven stories. Students will discuss “voice” and why it is important to know your character. Students will learn the plot arc, or The Three Big Questions (character problem, obstacles, solution.) As a group, students will brainstorm and chart ideas about a new character. Students will choose different items from the author’s “magic bag” that might be in a character’s pocket. They will diagram similar ideas about their own character to prepare them for an introductory paragraph about their character: What would your character’s ideal gift be? Students can share aloud or perform a skit based on their character.
Animal Talk: Mixing Fact and Fiction- (K-6) Based on several “faction” (fiction/non-fiction mix) type stories. Students will discuss non-fiction/fiction and what makes a good story for both genres (beginning, middle, end, action, description, point of view, etc.) Author will discuss research techniques, accuracy, etc. Students will learn how to write a “faction” story using live animals (walking sticks, snakes, millipedes.) Groups will brainstorm and chart different animal facts and use this information to begin a story in first or third person. Primary grades will create a group story.
There’s a Dinosaur in my Backyard! Creating Realistic Fantasy (3-6) Based on story Grandpa’s Grapevine and middle grade novel, The Puzzle Seed. After a brief discussion about fantasy/reality, students will learn how to mix the two to create the realistic fantasy genre that includes the following components: realistic setting, characters with real problems and real facts. A quick art activity and over head projector activity will lead students into writing a quick group fantasy story. Students will choose an item out of the “magic bag” to begin a first paragraph or outline of a realistic fantasy story.
Story Elements: A Quick and Easy Recipe (3-6) Students will learn the plot arc, or The Three Big Questions. Using a simple plotting formula: 1.) What your character wants. 2.) What obstacles must your character overcome? 3.) How does your character overcome those obstacles? Students will choose photos of potential characters and brainstorm a potential plot based on their character.
Writing With Roots- Integrating Culture into Your Writing (3-6) Using Greek dance and the Greek language, participants will learn how to integrate culture into their stories. Lori will illustrate the use of cultural settings, traditions and character in some of her stories like TAP SHOES FOR YAYA and her new novel, SUPER NOVA. Students will brainstorm, and begin a story integrating their own traditions and culture.
If time permits, a little Greek language and dance instruction to wrap things up. Opa!
Characters with a Twist (3-6) Using costumes and little creativity, students will learn how to create unique characters. Students will learn the plot arc, or The Three Big Questions (character problem, obstacles, solution.) Participants will dissect a few of Lori's stories, like SO MANY LEGS, and her two novels, THE PUZZLE SEED and SUPER NOVA, to identify character, and learn how to use graphic organizers to begin character development. This session will culminate in a game: "What's in your character's pocket?"
The Poetry of Science (3-6) How do you make non-fiction fun? Here’s a hint: everything that exists in the world has a story--all you need to do is tap into the real-life tension and drama. By looking at THE COST OF FREEDOM, SAVING THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR or books from Lori’s KILLER ANIMAL series, students will become story scientists and research different wildlife. Using poetry and literary technique, students will discuss how to mesh fact and fiction. If time permits, the children will walk away with their own fun, but factual, animal poems.
African Safari (K-6) Students will learn how to transform observation and experience into a captivating piece of writing. Using a “photo safari” of Lori’s time studying lions in Kenya and her book, LIONS: ON THE HUNT, students will immerse themselves in Kenyan wildlife and culture. Together, with puppets and African instruments, they will retell Kenyan folktales, and if time permits, write a factual, yet fantastical animal tale.
So Many Legs (Preschool, K-1) Short assembly—20-30 minutes-No PowerPoint. Lori will give a short bio and what it means to be an author. With her friend the caterpillar, Lori and the students will read SO MANY LEGS. Students will discuss things they can/cannot do (like main character in the story.) Calling on volunteer “shoe-tiers,” the group will estimate how long it takes 8 kids (16 feet) to tie their shoes, just like caterpillar must do everyday!
$650 for three 30-60 minute presentations, $100 per additional presentation. (up to 5 maximum) in the Southern California area. Please contact Lori for schools in other locations.
Lori really enjoys presenting to groups of 30 or less in classroom or library settings, but she will present to larger groups as needed.
*Teacher inservice and student summer writing camps also available.*
See information and photos from the Orange County Educational Arts Academy Writing Camp 2007 at http://www.oceaa.org/English/index.html
“Lori Polydoros knows how to motivate students. She has a knack for inspiring even the most reluctant writer by getting students to believe in themselves. It takes a special person to be able to blend real-world experience and instructional flair. Lori Polydoros can do both, so well, in fact, that is a favorite workshop leader at Alta Vista’s Annual Student Writer’s Conference.”
Mr. Kor, 5th grade teacher at Baldwin School, Alhambra, CA
“Teachers loved Lori’s teaching and management strategies. She reminded us all to keep students actively listening and involved and to be more creative. It was obvious from the way she listened and responded to our kids how much she cares about them and their education. Thank you Lori, for inspiring our students and for inspiring us to be better teachers.”
Linda Griffiths, Librarian, John Muir Academy, Long Beach, CA
Click here to read a letter of reference from Nancy Wride, Author's Night Coordinator at Lowell Bayside Academy in Long Beach.
A few words from students:
"My favorite workshop was How to Write Creative Canine Stories by Lori Polydoros. She spoke so good to where I could picture the stories. She taught us to never give up.”
3rd grader at Alta Vista Elementary, Redondo Beach, CA
“My favorite part of your story, Grandpa’s Grapevine, is when the sky is fiery, the stars are swirling and the vine sprouts up in front of him. To picture this in your mind is amazing. It is very magical. The reason it’s my favorite part is he is on his way to success and he doesn’t even know it.”
5th grader at Kettering School, Long Beach, CA
“I like the way we went 1,2,3…Boom! That was so fun to me. I like when we said swoosh, swoosh, swoosh too. I heard you were a teacher you and your books. Thank you for coming to visit.”
2nd grader, John Muir Academy, Long Beach, CA