I am available for professional development inservices throughout the year; however, because these are primarily scheduled for non-teaching days, please book early. Detailed information about professional development sessions is available on the professional development page. References are available upon request.
I am available for author visits and writing workshops throughout the year. Each October, I travel with the Young Alberta Book Soceity on their Taleblazers campaign. If you are from an Alberta school, this organization can greatly assist in the expense of bringing an author to your school, so please check them out at www.yabs.ab.ca. I am also available to travel throughout Canada and into the US, if there is sufficient interest in a region. During author presentations, I provide students with a glimpse into my books and the writing process. I use a combination of readings, stories and visuals to reveal the stories, without giving them away and like to make these presentations as interactive as possible. I am happy to speak to groups of up to 75 students, providing that the facility will accommodate everyone in a comfortable manner. Sitting on the floor is fine as long as there is room. My presentation is very portable, and all I require is a wall or whiteboard or flip chart on which I can tack up some posters and a small table or chair for a number of objects. These presentations are best scheduled for an hour block as that gives me time to tell students about the writing process and answer questions, but I can accommodate school schedules as well.
Detailed information about writing workshops can be found on the Writing Workshops page. I generally ask that these workshops be restricted to a single class, or if two small classes are combined, that the workshop be conducted in an area where all students have access to a writing surface. Students should bring along a writing notebook or paper and a pen or pencil. I typically introduce specific writing strategies I wish students to use, illustrate how these are best implemented, and then model the process and product for students, as they work alongside me. I generally work with short pieces, forcing students into great choices. Time required for these workshops depends on the grade level of students.
Information about Cathy’s books for teachers
My historical fiction titles – Shadows of Disaster, Chaos in Halifax and Stormstruck – are designed for children ages eight to fourteen. Although they have become a series about Canadian catastrophes, each novel is designed to stand alone. They have been used as classroom novels from grades 3-8, primarily because the fascination about disasters is universal. They have even been used as read-alouds in nursing homes! The three novels are often used in literature circles, making for very interesting discussions afterwards as all three books share the same principal characters, but deal with different Canadian disasters. Although these books are time-travel novels, which allowed me to contrast life in the past and present, they are primarly historical fiction and the events surrounding the disasters are as historically accurate as I could possibly make them. I feel a great responsibility to represent history accurately. I have written teachers’ guides for all three titles. The guides include background information, detailed chapter questions that can also be used as a jeopardy game, and differentiated post-reading activities. These are available from Ronsdale Press. As well as dealing with actual disasters, each book is also set in a particular historical social context and deals with common issues pertinent to young readers. I have included a list below that outlines some of the educational tie-ins for each book.
Shadows of Disaster – the Frank Slide, early coal mining, pioneer life, risk taking, gender roles, legends, dementia and aging, family relationships. cross-age relationships, self esteem, natural resources, and Alberta’s geography
Chaos in Halifax – the Halifax explosion, Canada’s role in WWI, family relationship changes, effective communication, and dealing with loss and grief
Stormstruck – the Great Storm of 1913, non-traditional families, women’s right, the suffragette movement, weather and meteorology, the early shipping industry, and decision making
My contemporary, young adult novels deal with some of the contemporary issues facing adolescents today. They are designed for students aged eleven and up. A teachers’ guide for Offside is available from Thistledown Press. Although both books deal with hockey, they seem to have a great androgynous appeal as the issues addressed therein are pretty universal. A list of possible educational tie-ins is provided below.
Offside – substance abuse, sports and performance, friendships, family relationships, adolescent relationships, role models, and the mental aspect of sport
One on One – family relationships, sports and performance, the petroleum industry, loyalty and honesty, dealing with adversity, and parental pressure in sport