Tag Archives: Writers in Schools Program

Young Alberta Book Society (YABS) & Writers in Schools Program (WISP): Planning Ahead

For teachers, timeframes for author tours are important, and dates can become a deciding factor. Some school calendars follow the traditional school year; others operate on a semester system; some schedule classes over the summer. Professional development days, parent-teacher interviews, statutory and religious holidays all affect when it is most convenient to host an author.

Timeframes are important to writers and artists, too. For instance, some simply cannot participate in YABS Wordpower tours because they are scheduled in March and April. Other participating artists who are “emerging” in their fields need extra time to prepare material before going into schools. Also, mental preparedness is essential, and newbies benefit from talking to those who have toured in the programs.

Both teachers and touring artists learn from viewing the websites of numerous authors. In countless cases, these experienced individuals know what works and what doesn’t work in schools. As well, before signing up as a host or presenter, consider suitability for specific grade levels. Touring artists should begin with grades where they feel comfortable, whether that be kindergarten or high school, and school organizers new to the role of hosting should see how the process works with a few classes before determining that they will offer everyone in the school an opportunity to “see the writer.”

Likely, teachers or teaching teams will prefer the spring or fall for Alberta author and artist visits. For WISP, member writers update their information and availability by the end of September. School organizers can view the information by mid-October, and by then, the deadline for applications to host authors are posted. Usually, that deadline will be about the end of November but it can change every year. Also, demand exceeds availability and funding. So, schools should apply as early as possible. Participating authors present in schools from February to mid-May. All follow-up paperwork must be to the WISP co-ordinator by the end of May.

Those YABS members who are planning to tour update their information and availability in March. The updated content is available throughout the year on the website, and school organizers can begin booking visiting authors in May for the fall.  With many, many visiting artists who live throughout the province and are willing to travel to schools, finding the best guests for your school may take time, despite the ability to search specific types of artists and specific grade levels. Also, the school registration form allows organizers to select their first three guest preferences.

Next year might be the perfect year to participate as a host or visiting artist. So, begin now. Check out the websites: www.yabs.ab.ca and www.albertaauthors.ab.ca Plan, plan, plan, and success will be inevitable.

WISP & YABS: Who’s Who?

Whether you are an interested teacher or a writer, knowing the similarities and differences in the WISP and YABS author touring programs will help you decide which is right for you.  The Alberta Branch of the Canadian Authors Association (www.albertaauthors.ab.caoffers tours through its Writers in Schools Program (WISP). Young Alberta Book Society (www.yabs.ab.ca) has a number of touring programs, the best known being Taleblazers.

Both organizations assist teachers to host writers in their schools. Also, both programs provide a backup “team” with the experience to help writers and instructors plan for success. As a bonus, their websites provide teachers and other arts co-ordinators with information about Alberta writers, their published work, public experience and types of presentations. For everyone, such support is invaluable.

These organizations are committed to the concept that students benefit from meeting real “live” Alberta writers. Young people discover the impressive array of work by those authors and have an opportunity to ask questions and learn from their guests.  English and language arts classes are enriched, and everyone wins.

Information about programs and participating writers is available on YABS and WISP webpages. YABS has its own website, and most information remains accessible throughout the year. WISP is featured on program pages for the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Authors Association (CAA).  That content is online only during the booking period. It is posted about the first of October. Tours are completed by the end of May, and WISP goes offline until the following October. However, interested authors must register long before the information goes online for schools. So teachers and writers will benefit from printing some of the information while it is online and filing it. That way,  potential  hosts and guests have time to plan. As well, they benefit from a  head start when registration and booking begin for the following year.

The motto of the Canadian Authors Association is “Writers Helping Writers,” so it is not surprising that part of the intent of its program is to assist writers in gaining experience in the school setting. To participate, writers must be members of the Alberta Branch of CAA, and they must have at least one short story, poem, article or book published by an independent publisher (rather than self- published).

The Young Alberta Book Society’s website, with its extensive information on members, is a great place to search out Alberta authors. The primary objective of the society is to “foster literacy and a love of reading among young people in Alberta.”

As well as authors, YABS welcomes other writing-related artists including illustrators, playwrights and storytellers. All must be residents of Alberta. Also, in order to tour with YABS, they must meet very stringent requirements, which are set out in the Taleblazers Presenter Eligibility form. Even a cursory glance at the form will convince everyone of how professional these wordsmiths and other artists must be participate in YABS programs. 

The organization’s best known touring program is Taleblazers in October. For this arts festival, YABS facilitates school visits throughout the province. However, the society organizes other events and programs, too.  

Writers and book-related artists, join the movement to inspire our youth. Teachers, here’s your chance. Alberta artists are at your call!