The Intern Diaries

Kate M. is the summer editorial intern at Free Spirit Publishing and a rising senior in English literature at Seattle University. Cassidy F. is the summer sales and marketing intern and a recent graduate in creative writing from Macalester College.

More Than Filing: The Intern DiariesInternships are often displayed as less than glamorous: filing, paperwork, and, if you’re lucky, maybe an opportunity to throw out an idea during a crowded, busy meeting. Nowadays, internships are becoming increasingly necessary in order to secure a future job, but too often, interns are thrown into supporting roles with little purpose.

Thankfully, this is far from the case at Free Spirit. Since the beginning of our internships, we have contributed to vital steps in the publication process. We do not fetch coffee or busy ourselves with mundane tasks; rather, we continuously aid and provide important feedback to people who genuinely care about our opinions and our interest in publishing. So if you’re wondering what a Free Spirit intern actually does, or are interested in becoming one yourself (do it, apply!), read about how interns help your favorite Free Spirit books come to be.

Kate: As an editorial intern, I have the privilege of being the first pair of eyes to read each manuscript proposal. This is one of my favorite duties—it is incredibly special to read the work that authors have put so much time and thought into. After I read each proposal, I contact the author and acknowledge receipt of the submission. Then, I am free to write notes to the editors, including my opinions and suggestions for further action with the text. More involvement than you expected? I was definitely surprised! My opinion is valued at Free Spirit—so much so that it is requested immediately after receiving a submission.

Cassidy: Every month or so, the editorial and marketing departments join forces to discuss proposals we are interested in acquiring. Before each meeting, I do a bit of background research on the authors. Mostly, I research their Internet presence: Do they have a website? Do they blog? Do they have a large Twitter following? First-time authors are wonderful and exciting, but from a marketing perspective, a larger Internet presence usually means a higher number of sales.

Kate: The editorial team takes these things into consideration but is also concerned about a book’s purpose and relevance, the quality of writing and structure of the text (for instance, how much editing will be necessary), and the text’s ability to complement other published Free Spirit books.

Kate: At the beginning of my internship, I was asked to share my learning objectives, which manifested as a few major projects that I have been working on throughout my time at Free Spirit. My current—and favorite—project involves critiquing a manuscript. I read, mark up, and review the text, and then submit my suggestions for feedback. While this critique is not part of the formal editing process, it is useful exposure and practice.

Kate: Being aware of the market and potential competing products is vital for the editorial department. Upon request, I research books that may compete with upcoming Free Spirit titles and notify the department of my findings. This research is important because it helps predict how our book will sell. Important information for the editorial department—even more so for Cassidy, I’m sure!

Cassidy: Research on competition and companion books is definitely a key part of marketing—I’ve learned all books become part of a network. It’s important to understand what already exists, but also to reach out to the greater community. Before a book is officially in publication, an eBook version is created and uploaded to a site called NetGalley, where people can request advance copies for reviewing. I go through each of the requests to approve them. We love any and all honest reviews that we get, not just those from professionals in the publishing world. We want to hear from people who are really in the field, from teachers to parents to counselors, and more.

Cassidy: Once we have finished printed books in-house, I mail copies with press releases to publishing magazines and various parenting and educational journals. I also send copies to international presses to promote interest in potential translations.

Cassidy: Occasionally, with so-called “topic” or “issue” books, I will research potential buyers and write a press release or formal letter to reach out to them. “Potential buyers” are typically organizations or schools who we think would benefit from our resources. Once I draft the letter, I send it to our proofreader. After she edits it and I make the proper corrections, I mail it with a complimentary copy of the book.

Cassidy: After a book’s publication, I track its review statistics on sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. Currently, I am compiling a spreadsheet of review statistics in order to determine if there is a correlation between the number of reviews and the number of sales and if we can implement any outreach or marketing programs to promote reviews. As the marketing intern, I remain involved in a book’s life long after a title has gone to print.

From concept to consumer, Free Spirit interns are submerged in the publication process every step of the way. While other internships may involve little more than paperwork and copy machines, Free Spirit goes out of their way to ensure interns leave with valuable knowledge and experience, prepared to take on the publishing world ahead.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

Posted in Publishing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Go to the Movies! Using Film to Teach Leadership

By Mariam G. MacGregor, author of  Building Everyday Leadership in All Teens

Let’s Go to the Movies! Using Film to Teach LeadershipMovies are engaging tools for introducing and discussing leadership concepts. Dozens of movies—both classic and contemporary—portray strong leadership themes. Classic movies with older release dates may require a bit of background and context for your audience in order for their timeless relevance and application for teaching and discussing leadership to rise above the groans about terrible special effects, cheesy outfits, and sometimes awkward dialogue.

Younger grades often use films to fill recess time during inclement weather. Honestly, movies are not my first choice for how to use that time—I advocate for offering free time in the gym or setting up classroom stations with quick leadership initiatives. But if your school uses films in this way, select films with leadership themes. And rather than showing the most current releases, which many kids have seen multiple times (think Frozen), choose from the many G- and gentle PG-rated films that introduce leadership themes and lessons such as Dreamer and A Bug’s Life. Even if time limits kids from seeing the entire film during that recess period, classroom teachers can take 5–10 minutes to comment on the leadership ideas in the film prior to launching into their next lesson.

When seeking to facilitate in-depth discussion with tweens and teens, encourage students to keep track of leadership issues throughout the movie. Here are some general questions you might want students to reflect upon when you process and discuss movies:

  • What leadership lessons did I learn from this movie?
  • Which character’s leadership style do I relate most to in this movie?
  • In what ways does the plot of this movie connect to real-life situations?
  • What leadership characteristics or behaviors play a central role in this movie?
  • Have I ever faced any dilemmas similar to those of the characters? If so, what and when and how did I deal with it?
  • Were the characters aware of their roles as leaders in this movie? If so, how do they demonstrate this awareness? If not, why didn’t they see it in themselves?
  • Are there any scenes that would be more effective if executed differently? Why? How would I do those scenes differently?

If time doesn’t allow you to discuss all of the leadership questions, or you show only small clips of any movie, select the questions that best represent the lesson you want teens to take away from what they’ve watched.

Discussion Questions for Jakob the Liar

Bonus! Download discussion questions from Building Everyday Leadership in All Teens for use with the film Jakob the Liar.

Here’s a short list of my current favorites for using movies to teach leadership:

  • All the King’s Men (NR, 1949)
  • Batkid Begins (PG, 2015)
  • Because of Winn-Dixie (PG, 2005)
  • Big Hero 6 (PG, 2014)
  • A Bug’s Life (G, 1998)
  • The Boxtrolls (PG, 2014)
  • The Greatest Game Ever Played (PG, 2005)
  • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl (G, 2008)
  • My Neighbor Totoro (G, 2010)
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG, 2013)
  • Sneakers (PG-13, 1992)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (NR, 1962)

I regularly peruse the Internet Movie Database and Common Sense Media for new ideas, and I watch each movie before using it with kids and teens.

Remember, every audience is different. With this in mind, choose movies that are appropriate for your group and always review movies or video clips prior to using them in your program. What are some of your favorite films and how have you used them to teach leadership?

Mariam MacGregor FSO AuthorMariam G. MacGregor, M.S., served as the school counselor and coordinator of leadership programs at an alternative high school in Colorado. While there, she received honorable mention for Counselor of the Year. Now, she’s a nationally recognized leadership consultant who works with schools (K–12 and higher education), nonprofit agencies, faith groups, and communities interested in developing meaningful, sustainable leadership efforts for kids, teens, and young adults. She founded (now to provide support to youth leaders and individuals working with them.

Free Spirit titles by Mariam MacGregor:

Building Everyday Leadership in All Kids BuildingEverydayLeadershipInAllTeens TeambuildingWithTeens from FSP MacGregor
everydayleadership EverydayLeadershipCards

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

Posted in Character Education, Teaching Strategies | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Websites or Apps You Need to See Before School Starts

Websites or Apps You Need to See Before School StartsThe arrival of August can shift our thoughts back to the classroom. But before you head back to your students this fall, take some time to check out these websites that can make your teaching experience easier and help you engage students in new ways.

1. BAM!
The BAM Radio Network founded in 2007, remains a growing, timely, and practical resource for teachers, parents, leaders, and others. Their website is full of great material and has links to their blog, a massive podcast library, and all of the nearly 50 radio channels they offer for educators covering topics like ed tech, school culture, blended learning, and so much more. Whatever your interest is, they probably have a channel for it. You can create your own playlist of podcasts or subscribe to a topic. If you have never explored BAM, take some time to do it before school starts up.

2. OneNote
It isn’t new, but it gets better all the time. And it’s free. Available for nearly any platform, OneNote can be indispensable in juggling time and info—for students and teachers. The website OneNote in Education has sections for teachers, students, and administrators. If you’re new to OneNote, the website will guide you, and if you’re used to using OneNote, the site can teach you new tricks. The OneNote in Education Blog has several great posts on using OneNote in differentiation, with special needs students, and more.

3. Futuba
The ten apps found on Futuba Classroom Games for Kids are creative, informative, and full of customizable options to fit many elementary school settings. Like the geography questions but want to add some local sites? It’s easy to do. These are multiplayer learning games that get kids involved on many levels—students can even take pictures and create their own flashcards. Teachers can change it up during the school year by inserting new question sets.

4. Periodic Table of Apps
iste-posters-001 sjunkins periodic table of ipad appsIf you missed it last year, Sean Junkin’s Periodic Table of iPad Apps is more than a funky play on the original Periodic Table—it’s full of app ideas for teachers sorted by use, topic, and audience that is practical as well as pretty. Yes, it is a poster, not an app, but the apps shown are easily found online and sure to be helpful for all grade levels. is a blog full of interesting thoughts, projects, and ideas from a creative school tech expert. Download the table and explore all the options it shows—you will find some you never knew and will be happy to use.

5. Doceri
Wish you could walk away from the front of the class and still show slides and videos, write on the board, and more? A powerful interactive tool for classrooms, Doceri is an app for iPad and Windows tablets as well as Mac and PC desktops. It enables you to share and create print and video materials, manage presentations remotely, use it as a whiteboard, share lessons on social media, and lots more. The single use intro level is free. Other versions include classroom management and training for teachers on how to best use the software, with new features on the way.

code org quote courtesy code-orgClassrooms are quickly filling with digital natives, and they want to learn to make apps themselves. Teachers don’t need to have all the answers to help, just great resources. can help teachers find those resources and has some exciting ideas for getting kids started. They even offer free training sessions for educators at many sites around the country. Programming codes are languages that students need to gain fluency in, and learning them is now far more approachable with all the marvelous apps to help. Learn about the movement to get kids involved on the website, then check out Get Your Students Coding with These 20 iPad Apps by Jon Samuelson (iPadSammy) of Technlandia Radio.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.f Technlandia Radio.

Posted in Educational Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching at a New School: Advice for Learning the School’s Culture

By Otis Kriegel, author of Everything a New Elementary School Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College). This post was originally published on August 22, 2013.

Advice for Learning a New School's CultureIn my career, I have taught at five different schools. It’s fun immersing myself in different communities, but I’ve had to learn the ropes over and over again each time I switched locations. Were kids supposed to use the bathroom in pairs or alone? Were parents allowed free reign in the school or not allowed into the building during school hours? How much homework was expected each night? Learning a new school’s culture every year was exhausting.

During my third year—and third school—instead of going from classroom to classroom bothering my colleagues, including the office staff and sometimes the principal, I found one teacher on my grade level. I stepped into his classroom one summer afternoon when we were both prepping our rooms for the coming year and offered to help him with the desks he was moving. When we were done, I asked him if I could take a few minutes of his time so I could ask all of those school culture questions at once.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. Yes. Right away I felt relief from that stress headache that had been paralyzing me in the corner of my dusty classroom. We sat together, shared a snack, and I went through a laundry list of questions: What were the arrival and dismissal procedures? When were faculty meetings? What was expected of me during Back to School Night? How were report cards distributed? And so on.

After less than half an hour, I not only felt more prepared, but I had learned more about the school, the staff, and the likes and dislikes of my principal; a few details about some of my students; and even where was the closest spot to school for a quick, healthy lunch when I had forgotten mine.

Learning Your School's Culture: Who You Need to Know

Bonus! Download Learning Your School’s Culture: Who You Need to Know from Everything a New Elementary School Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College). This excerpt describes the four people at your new school who are crucial to your success.

Did I have more questions throughout the year? Of course. Was that teacher the only person I asked for help? No way. But finding the courage to ask someone for a chunk of his time at the beginning of the year paid off in dividends for the months after. And I was sure to bring that first teacher some treats throughout the school year. He deserved it.

Teaching can be an isolating job. We work all day in a room with 20–35 kids, and rarely do we have the chance to speak to another adult during teaching time. We are independent, self-motivated people who find inspiration in working with children. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to ask a fellow teacher for some help! Use some preparation time before the school year begins to get the low-down on how your school operates.

New teachers should heed the same advice we give our students: ask a friend for help.

What advice do you give new teachers at your school? How do you recommend learning a school’s culture?

OtisKriegel_FSP AuthorOtis Kriegel is a 15-year veteran teacher, having taught in dual language (Spanish/English), monolingual, and Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms. He received his M.S.Ed. in bilingual education from the Bank Street College of Education and has taught at the Steinhardt School at New York University. Otis has also been a guest lecturer at the Bank Street College of Education, City College of New York, and Touro College. He created the workshop, “How to Survive Your First Years Teaching & Have a Life,” which was the impetus of his book. An experienced presenter, Otis has conducted this workshop with hundreds of preservice and new teachers and continues to present in universities and teacher education programs. Otis now resides with his family in Berlin, Germany, where he teaches at an American International School.

EverythingaNewElemTeacherNeeds2Know, FSPOtis Kriegel is the author of Everything a New Elementary School Teacher REALLY Needs to Know (But Didn’t Learn in College).


We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

Posted in Professional Development | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Ways to Take the Grrrr Out of Family Time (When Summer Grows Long)

By Eric Braun

10 Ways to Take the Grrrr Out of Family TimeMy boys may be getting older—14 and 12—but they still maintain their youthful vitality when it comes to bickering like toddlers. They do have a bit of a higher tolerance for each other now, though. We’d made it five hours into our eleven-hour road trip before it started.

“Hey, quit it!”


“You just—”

“Well you always—”

“Well you never—”

“Don’t touch the—”

“Don’t whine—”

“Don’t breathe—”



“Okay!” I said, eyes on the road, fists affixed tensely to the wheel.

I knew it was too much to expect that they’d both sit silently for the entire day. But for some reason, I was blindsided by the sudden eruption. Thinking quickly, I offered the auxiliary cord between the seats.

“One of you DJ for us for a while.”

My 12-year-old eagerly stuck the cord into his phone and began to play his favorite Beatles tunes while his older brother retreated to his earbuds and book. Crisis averted.

It’s not always that easy, I know. If your kids are younger, you may even be rolling your eyes. But the fact is that by this point of the summer, many families have spent a lot of time together. Siblings of all ages can get on one another’s nerves. Even adults get tired of their kids after too much exposure. (Admit it.) It’s a full-time job keeping everyone sane and having fun. This is especially true if your kids are younger than mine, who by now have relatively well-developed skills for coping with anger, frustration, and annoying sibling syndrome. And it’s especially-especially true if you’re going to be spending a lot of time together in a small space like a car, hotel room, tent, etc.

So, here are a few helpful hints to help you keep the grrrr out of your next family trip:

10 Tips for Peaceful Family Road Trips

  1. Pack snacks. This is parenting 101, of course, but it’s easy to forget if getting ready for a trip is as nutty for you as it is for us. We’re always scrambling at the last minute to pack the cooler, download directions, load the back of the stationwagon like a Tetris screen, double-check that we have sunscreen, go pee one last time!, and so on. Amidst all that, remember to pack something everyone can munch on to boost the blood sugar and distract from the tedium.
  2. Pack stuff to do. This is also pretty basic, but it too can get lost during preparations. Kids can take books, travel games, notebooks and pens or crayons, Mad Libs, and electronics if you have them—mp3 players, DVD players, and so on. Play an audiobook on the car stereo and you not only pass the time together, you also create a collective family memory.
  3. Pack wet wipes. Because nothing brings out the grrrr like grrrrape jelly on the fingers. Or seat. Or clothes. Or brother. You get the idea.
  4. Set spending plans ahead of time. Will the kids get to pick out one souvenir at the museum? Will they be spending their own money? Maybe you’re packing meals, but they can buy their own snacks. Maybe they can get one sugar-free drink at the gas station, but no pop. Whatever the case, establish it ahead of time so there’s no bargaining—or fighting—in the heat of the moment.
  5. Give kids a say in what you do. For example, when planning the trip, show them the map and say, “There’s a cool cave tour over here and a water park hotel over here. We might not be able to do both if we spend two days at the lake campsite. What would you prefer?”
  6. Give kids other responsibilities, too. Have them DJ in the car. Ask them to help navigate and sort cash for road tolls. If you’re bringing pets, let a kid be in charge of supplies and rest stop breaks. Older kids can be in charge of writing (or blogging!) a bit about each day or destination so you’ll all remember it.
  7. Leave room for spontaneity. Definitely plan ahead and set a budget, but if an unexpected opportunity for fun pops up, go for it. This is less about avoiding discord than it is about seeking harmony. You’ll rarely regret the extra time you took to wade in the creek or go through a corn maze—even if it makes you late for dinner.
  8. Put sleep in the itinerary.
    Anger Pledge

    BONUS! Download the Anger Pledge, a free printable page from How to Take the Grrrr Out of Anger that can help skirmishing siblings make and keep the peace

    This is not just for kids. Being road warriors makes all of us weary, so plan for early bedtime, allow for late mornings, and remember: Naptime doesn’t just happen; you’ll have to plan for it.

  9. Be present. Travel time is all about being together. When we engage fully with our kids, they’re likely to behave better than they do in “normal life.”
  10. Remember that the journey is the destination. You don’t have to see every inch of the city or stay for every minute of the tour. If kids are getting tired, feel free to call it a day. It’s better to miss some sights and feel good about the trip than to have exhausted squabbles and meltdowns as your main memories.

When all else fails, put on some Beatles.

Minneapolis writer Eric Braun on Thursday, November 20, 2013.Eric Braun is a writer, editor, and road-tested dad living in Minneapolis.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2015 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment