I give presentations to intermediate and high school students as well as to adults. I’ve spoken at the Vancouver Writers Festival, travelled with  Canadian Children’s Book Week, and visited schools across Canada. If the workshop descriptions below don’t suit your needs, please feel free to contact me directly.

This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes (ideal for intermediate or high school students)
* Available as a digital presentation via Zoom or MS Teams
This is a sometimes silly and sometimes serious introduction to the science of stereotypes. It covers the history of discrimination, secret biases in our brains, and how stereotypes affect our sense of self. Interactive sections will help young people make sense of how and why we sort and classify the world around us — and how we might broaden our horizons.

Under Pressure (ideal for intermediate or high school students)
* Available as a digital presentation via Zoom or MS Teams
We all experience stress—that sweaty, heart-racing feeling. It’s a natural reaction. But while it may have been useful to our ancestors as they fought off lions in the wild, feeling flustered isn’t always helpful in our modern lives. In this interactive, occasionally goofy presentation, I share stories from my book Under Pressure: The Science of Stress. There are fascinating facts about the origins of stress, wacky historical experiments in the name of research, and—most importantly—practical ways to stress-bust in our everyday lives. We experiment with five of these methods, together, during the session.

The Best Way to Get Your Way (ideal for intermediate students)
Kids are used to disagreeing with rules — but no one ever listens. What if there was a way of catching grown-ups’ attention? What if kids could change adults’ minds? Welcome to debating! In this fast-paced, interactive presentation we’ll look at ways facts and stories persuade and influence. We’ll try our hand at creating convincing arguments. And we’ll vote on some hot-button issues… like whether homework should be legal. Students might just surprise themselves with their powers of persuasion.

Villainous Thoughts (ideal for intermediate students)
Any great adventure story requires a strong villain — someone who adds conflict and challenge, someone who forces the hero to develop and hone new skills. But the villain can’t be too strong, either. We need to leave our heroes a few glimmers of hope. How do we find that perfectly nefarious balance? And what else should we look for when creating antagonists? This one-hour workshop will help students write stories with pace and tension. They should bring their favourite pens and their creativity!

Survival 101 (for intermediate or high school students)
* Available as a digital writing workshop via Zoom or MS Teams
All great stories – fiction and non-fiction – rely on conflict and problem-solving. And people face problems in predictable ways. They act or they freeze; they seize control or they panic; they put their own skills and knowledge to work or they look to others for salvation. In this hands-on writing workshop, participants are assigned a crisis situation and asked to set the scene. They might find their character stranded on a desert island, at sea in a lifeboat, or lost in the wilderness. After some time to write, students draw cards from my When The Worst Happens deck of trouble, and things grow more dangerous. How will their characters react when attacked by wild animals, when delirious from dehydration, or when all hope of rescue seems lost? Have the students created people who will pull through in the end, or destined their characters for tragedy? Between writing exercises, we’ll discuss what personality traits might help or hinder people in threatening situations. Students leave the workshop with a new understanding of how conflict raises the stakes in storytelling, and how characters develop through the choices they make.

Storytelling Goes Green (ideal for primary students)
This interactive presentation is based on my picture books Our Green City, What Will I Discover?, and Bompa’s Insect Expedition. Young readers will choose their own green-city jobs, generate forest sound effects, and seek-and-find some sneaky insects. Then we’ll write our own green story as a group… that is, if a dragon story can be green. Students will leave with new knowledge about the environment and a new understanding of how picture book stories are created.

Writing to Change the World (ideal for intermediate students)
I love to write about people who’ve taken risks and achieved great things. In this fast-paced presentation, we look at why people decide to pursue unusual goals, what characteristics help them succeed, and how their actions change the world. Along the way, there are questions and answers, a chance to act out one of the stories, a crime tableau in which the audience serves as jury, and plenty of crowd-sourced sound effects. I work hard to ensure different learning styles are represented, and every student is engaged. In the last portion of the presentation, we decide what wisdom we can take from other over-achievers, and I share ways I’ve used risk-taking and grit in my own writing life. Then we look at ways all students might work toward embracing opportunities and achieving their own dreams.

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