Guest Post: Natalie Dias Lorenzi on Teacher Guides

Natalie Dias Lorenzi

By Natalie Dias Lorenzi

Why have a guide?

With No Child Left Behind, teachers don’t have much freedom to add to the curriculum—stakes are high for students to pass the state tests each year. The emphasis is on teaching certain skills, and books are vehicles for teaching those skills.

If the lesson is on conflict or characterization or metaphor, there are countless books that can deliver.

You want it to be yours.

How can you do that?

By providing a free, downloadable guide that teachers can use with their students.

Elements/considerations in creating a specific guide:

1. Include a balance of cross-curricular activities.

Teachers love using books that cover two or more subject areas.

2. Appeal to all kinds of learners.

Some kids learn best through movement, some through music, and others through talking. I like to incorporate Bloom’s Taxonomy (higher level thinking skills) and Garner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (different learning styles) to create activities and discussions that offer something for everyone.

2. Include state or national standards.

Align the activities in your guide to your state’s learning standards, and then let schools in your area know that the guide is available. Talk the talk by knowing what your state standards are called—for example, Florida calls them the Sunshine State Standards, and Texans refer to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. Google your state’s department of education for more information.

 There are national standards (only in English and math) called Common Core Standards, but states still use their own exams to assess students on state standards each year.

Considerations in hiring someone:

She Loved Baseball teacher guide.

1. Prior work: Ask for references and peruse samples.

2. Format: Guides come in many forms—bookmarks, pamphlets, straight discussion questions and activities, or a full-blown chapter-by-chapter guide.

3. Design: Bare bones or something more elaborate? Color is more expensive to print, but teachers can go paperless by projecting activities via an interactive whiteboard.

4. Budget: Guides cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Ask if your publisher is willing to cover all or part of the cost.

Publicizing your guide:

I asked my clients how they spread the word about their guides, and here’s what they suggest:

1. Provide a link to the guide on your website. Send the link to those requesting author visits.

2. Send a press release to teacher’s publications with a link to the guide.

3. Bring the guide to author appearances. Audrey Vernick always offers the first few pages of her guides, and then refers educators to her website to find the complete guides.

4. Have the guide on your publisher’s website. Alison Ashley Formento says, “Publicist and sales folks both have told me that librarians and teachers love having that resource on the publisher’s site.”

Soar, Elinor! teachers guide.

5. Ask your publisher to include the guide on publicity sheets they use for booksellers and in the ARC marketing plan.

6. If you send postcards to advertise your book or author visits, include a handwritten note letting people know about your guide.

7. When you give signed copies of your book to schools or libraries, include the guide.

8. Tami Lewis Brown built a Facebook promotion around the teacher’s guide for her picture book Soar, Elinor!, offering a free download to anyone who becomes a fan of her Author Tami Lewis Brown page.

Within a couple of weeks of launching her page, she had over 3500 fans. She said, “I was thrilled and more than a little shocked by how well the guide was received.”

Cynsational Notes

From EMU’s Debuts: “Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a teacher, freelance writer and children’s author. Her debut middle grade novel, Flying the Dragon, will be published by Charlesbridge in Fall 2012. Natalie, her husband, and their three children live in northern Virginia during the school year and eat gelato in Trieste, Italy during the summers.” Contact Natalie about a custom teacher’s guide for your book or help with making your school visit presentation more educator-friendly.

See also the teacher guides for PreK, kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2 created by Shannon Morgan for Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Barry Gott (Dutton, 2010).

8 thoughts on “Guest Post: Natalie Dias Lorenzi on Teacher Guides

  1. What Natalie can't say, because she's modest, is that she has a unique and remarkable genius for creating guides. If you're going to hire someone to create a guide for your book, read the work they've done. Some guides seem fairly generic, while others sparkle with creativity.

    Natalie's sparkle.

  2. Natalie's fantastic guide for my last PB really opened my eyes to the many possibilities for the book's use in the classroom, and helped me a lot with ideas as a novice presenter in schools, conferences and bookstores. Having a free link to the guide on my publisher's website has been an important sales' bonus for schools and libraries, according to the marketing director. Thanks, Natalie!

  3. I was blown away by the detail and creativity of Natalie’s guide. She encourages students to learn not only from the novel but from the world around them. Her study suggestions include individual and group learning, using the internet in creative ways (not just to search for information but to contribute) and community involvement.

    Natalie is amazing!!

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