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Monday, August 8, 2011

How Debt Ceiling Bill Will Affect K-12 Education

The recent agreement on the debt ceiling will be cutting $7 billion in federal aid to public education. Here are 3 interesting articles on how this will affect these schools:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Make Any Guest Feel Welcome

by Terry Lynch of www.historiesforkids.com

Whenever I give a presentation, I always hope my audience has come of their own free will. Speaking as I do on historical figures and leadership usually means that my audience has some interest in the subject on which I am about to speak. It’s very gratifying to have audience members nodding or smiling to affirm my ramblings. My presentations are always interactive. Whether I am speaking to adults or a youth group, I encourage audience members to contribute questions or comments at the end of the presentation. These discussions can get very lively, and I feel it is what makes the performance unique. Read the rest of this article

Saturday, November 27, 2010

3 Secrets to Having a Great School Show

If you are responsible for scheduling a speaker for your next school assembly you may be overwhelmed with all the decisions you will be making and the choices you have.

The following three tips will help to insure you get a great perfomance with true educational value. This means you want a presentation that not only presents core curriculum ideas clearly, but in a memorable and entertaining fashion.

First, make sure your performer has a proven track record. Many magicians and authors attempt to enter the school show business without the necessary skills. Most people who attempt to produce a great school show fail after a few years. It is nearly impossible to have longevity unless you are getting repeat customers. It is just too costly getting new customers, so all great school show companies rely on repeat customers and referrals to grow and stay in the business. Make sure you check the history of the company, references and volume of business. The longer they have been around and the more school shows they have delivered suggests quality.

Second, make sure your performer gives a strong message. Unless you are using your school show as just a fun reward, you need to justify the time out of class. School shows can be both, fun and educational, but make sure they are really up to the task of blending both objectives successfully.

Presenters can be a great inspiration to your students and will motivate and direct them towards setting their goals and believing they can live their dreams. Make sure the message your performer delivers isn’t just a passing phrase here and there, but a substantial, strategically delivered theme of the show. Curriculum based programs emphasizing Math and Science can motivate students to excel in these areas.

Third, check to see if the presenter has materials for the teachers to use in the classroom. The follow up after a presentation helps to anchor the ideas presented in your students. Personally, I leave all schools that schedule me a copy of my science books I have written for students plus additional materials for the teachers.

Dennis Regling has been a professional trainer and speaker for over 22 years. In the past 10 years, he has presented his math and science assemblies in over 1400 schools in 25 states. Dennis is the author of two science books for grade school students and over 20 books for professional entertainers. He will present his “Magic of Science” program at the National Engineering & Science Festival in Washington, DC in October 2010.

Dennis Regling can be contacted at 1-800-858-5402 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-858-5402 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or at his website: http://www.greatassemblies.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Postcard marketing for school assemblies. Does it work?

by David Jack, a three-time Parent's Choice award-winning, national children's recording artist. Find out information about him and his wildly-popular school assemblies at http://www.elementaryassembly.com.

I’ve been working this week on putting some promotional materials together for my school assembly shows. I’ve been racking my brain trying to find unique ways to get in front of the “decision makers.” Postcards have been around for years and years and although they don’t fit into the technology of present day, who knows… maybe “snail mail” might be just the thing that’ll separate me from the rest of the pack.

Even though I send my postcards to the individual schools, I don’t know REALLY know who receives it (i.e. who opens the mail at any particular school), but hopefully, that person will pass the postcard along to the correct party. I’ve found that there’s something about a piece of mail that makes it easier to “pass along” than an email (which sometimes can best be dealt with by simply hitting “delete.”)

I’ve been trying to create school assembly postcards that are not only visually interesting, but also include personal info about me, my school assemblies and that important “call to action” – “CALL NOW!” I’ve always agreed with the school of thought that humor sells and I try to come up with a humorous spin for my postcards. (Not always easy).

Doing a big mailing (5000) can be an expensive proposition, but making the investment has typically paid off for me. The campaign pays for itself, plus it brings in new business that could pay off for years to come. I look at it as an investment in my future.

To date, I’ve been using a company called Postcard Services out of Florida to do my mailings. The printing is very inexpensive and they handle all of the mailing services. I simply provide my school assembly mailing list in excel format. The only problem I’ve found is that their templates are fairly limited. The templates are the pre-designed cards from which I get my ideas for customizing my school assembly postcards.

If you’re familiar with my school assemblies and you think you have some creativity and would like to throw some ideas my way – I’m more than willing to at least give new school assembly ideas a listen (of course I can’t guarantee use).

Leave me your comments!


Creative School Assemblies can Stimulate a Thirst for Knowledge

by Jim Woodard

A drab history lesson can become an exciting and motivational experience for students who attend school assemblies. As a professional storyteller, I often prepare and deliver special programs for school assemblies. A few weeks ago when a principal called and requested a program, I asked what special subjects were being studied at that point by the students. "The major study right now is California history," the Southern California school principal said. "But we're having a tough time getting our students motivated. They seem to think the subject is quite a drag." I suggested planning and delivering a storytelling program focusing on The Great California Gold Rush - certainly a key historical event in California and nationwide. The principal approved the subject and I started preparing for the presentation.

It turned out to be a smash success for the 4th and 5th graders in that auditorium. They were all attentive and responsive. Students in a couple of the classes subsequently sent me notes, expressing how they felt about the presentation. Here are a couple of their comments:

"Thank you for telling us how people found gold during the California Gold Rush. You made it sound real, like it was happening right now. I got really excited about it."

"Thanks for telling us the story of the Gold Rush. I didn't know history could be so interesting - not boring at all. You made it come to life. I hope you come again and tell more stories about history."

My point here is that school assembly presentations can be exciting and a motivational experience for students, even when the subject is one that many students consider to be drab and boring. The key is in the planning and delivery of the presentation. By incorporating related and captivating little stories at strategic points within the program, students attention level remains high and they become involved and excited about the subject being discussed. And, of course, they comprehend and retain the information better.

The age-old practice of oral storytelling is the oldest and still a viable form of educating youngsters. Also, as a result of the positive audience response to an introductory story, the speaker has more self confidence in delivering his primary message and can do so more forcefully. School assembly speakers would be well advised to seek and use special stories that not only fascinate students but have viable educational and motivational qualities in themselves. The inclusion of the right stories the right positions within a prepared assembly presentation can be the spark that ignites a winning presentation.


Jim Woodard is a professional storyteller and writer. He has delivered hundreds of storytelling programs for groups in West Coast cities and the Midwest. He also writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column. Phone 805/658-6697 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 805/658-6697 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. Web site: www.storyteller.net/jwoodard/

"Soothe the Savage Beast"

Tips on Audience Control for Childrens' Performers

by Randel McGee

Not long ago I had the opportunity to attend a school assembly featuring a noted author of children*s books. His books and works have been very popular, even featured on national TV programs in years past. He had some very entertaining elements in his "live" presentation, but soon the children were becoming restless. They responded inappropriately to his vague questions. He got them excited about participating, but then did not seem to know how to guide their excitement to a positive involvement. He became rather perturbed with the students* behavior and let them know that he was. The "fun" of the program left and he had to drag himself through the rest of his presentation, which ended up being shorter than the teachers had planned on.

What went wrong? As a professional entertainer of children for nearly 25 years myself, I thought about this presentation and the techniques that were missing that could have made his handling of the audience a much more successful and positive experience. I started making a list of techniques that I have found to be extremely useful in holding my young audiences* attentions and guiding them into a mutually enjoyable experience.

In sharing this list I must add a few disclaimers:

Every performer, no matter how professional, trained, and talented, will have an audience, at some time, that is not going to respond well to the show, no matter what techniques you use.

The techniques that follow, like most artistic techniques, are suggestions that must be used in a delicate mix of good judgement, the artist*s sensibilities, the audience*s character, the venue, location, current affairs, etc., etc.

So here we go with a veritable "ABC" of audience control:


Where you are: Your audience loves to have you mention their town, school, library, etc.

Who you*re performing for: Adjust to their age level, understanding, & community sensibilities

Minor Distractions: These occur - make funny (but not derogatory) comments that tie them into your show

Kids will ask questions or make comments aloud - answer them or comment on them immediately, briefly, in character, and then get back on track

Kids will raise their hands to speak or ask a question: Tell them they can ask later at a better time and then remember to let them ask before you leave the stage

Good behavior and participation: Praise them or thank them for good responses

Those responsible for bringing you there: Be sure the sponsors get a good word


Passive and involved activities: Passive activities are listening and looking presentations. These can still be very engaging. Involved activities include: question & answers, call and respond stories or songs, actually choosing audience members to participate on stage ( a tricky venture, to be sure!), etc.


Keep your own mind focused on your presentation and the audience.

As in a "juice concentrate" - Condense your show or story to the essence of what you want to share and work from there, expanding or contracting as the situation dictates.


Their attentions to those elements that you want them to focus on by using vocal inflections, hand gestures or facial expressions.

Tell them what you expect them to do. Example: "I*m going to do a song now that I know you*ll like"

Ask rather specific questions that they can respond to in only positive or specific ways. Example: "You all know the story of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff, right?"


Your total belief and involvement in what you do are key elements in how involved the audience will become.

In addition to these techniques, I find that the following attributes are "the frosting on the cake":

4 P*s of Performing for young audiences:


They are only kids! Relax! Have Fun!

They need you to direct them on how to best behave for your type of show.

Positive Attitude

Be "Up"! When you like what you do and who you do it for, it shows!


Have enough well-rehearsed material to fill your time, and some back-up if you need it.

Know how to handle most interruptions and problems.

Come with the equipment you need to make the show successful.


Look clean and appropriately dressed.

Act courteous and amiably business-like from the moment you arrive until you leave.

*Most important of All*

Ya* Gotta Love *Em!

Treat your audience as if they were your own children and you were in front of the judges for "Parent of the Year"!

copyright 2003, Randel Mcgee

Randel McGee is an internationally recognized performer, teacher and artist. Educators around the country have appreciated his programs on conflict resolution and character education for young students and his literature based programs for all ages. His most popular acts are his comedy act of Randel McGee & Groark and his portrayal of Hans Christian Andersen, the beloved author/storyteller. www.storyteaching.com