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Biography

Carissa Halton is an award-winning writer of creative non-fiction. Her debut book, Little Yellow House: Finding Community in a Changing Neighbourhood, is a book of creative non-fiction essays and was a finalist for the 2019 Edmonton Book Prize. Her writing for magazines and newspapers has appeared in Today’s Parent, Alberta Venture, Postmedia newspapers and many more.  As a presenter, she spent many summers as an historical interpreter which honed her story telling skills and helped to expand her techniques for keeping complex concepts interesting to children. As a speaker and workshop presenter she is at her happiest helping people find meaning and hope by expanding their skills to write their own stories.  When not writing, she has broad experience: as an inner-city non-profit managing director, a political advisor to government ministers and communications consultant. She runs her own company, Halton Strategic, providing strategic planning and communications services to a variety of sectors. She lives in Edmonton with her husband and three school-aged kids and is currently writing a novel.

carissa@carissahalton.com
www.carissahalton.com

Virtual Presentations

Please note that Carissa’s education rates below are different than her general public speaking rates.

Session length and fees:

50-minute session = $200

Half day (includes 3 x 50 min sessions) = $450

Full day session (includes 5 x 50 min sessions) = $700

Is that a Fact?

Grade 4- 6  and 7-9: 40- 60 minutes

SUMMARY: Fiction and non-fiction are very different things… or are they? In this session, non-fiction writer, Carissa Halton, will discuss what makes non-fiction and fiction different and provide age appropriate examples. We will discuss why it’s important we know the difference between fact and fiction. For older students we will discuss how they can fact check.

MAIN POINTS:

  1. Two truths and a lie exercise –students will try to guess what is true and what is a lie on my shared screen.
  2. Discuss what makes ‘lies’ different from fiction.
  3. Discuss why is it important to understand the difference between facts and fiction.
  4. Explore ways to know a “fact” is true.
  5. For older students: Discuss the ethics of a non-fiction writer.

GOAL: To help students identify the difference between fiction and non-fiction. To give students tools to fact check their work and other stories they here.

Fun True Stories: The Fish Was How Big?

Grade 4- 12: 40- 60 minutes

SUMMARY: Stories don’t always have to include dragons and magic to be fun. Non-fiction writer, Carissa Halton, will show how interesting non-fiction stories often have similar elements of fiction. We will discuss what those elements are. With older students we will look at what forms non-fiction stories take, using age appropriate examples.

MAIN POINTS:

  1. First rule for any writer (storyteller): don’t bore your reader (listener)!
  2. But how do you not bore your readers with true facts?
  3. I will share an age appropriate example of fascinating true stories that aren’t exaggerated.
  4. We will analyze this well-told true story and how it has many similarities with fictional story telling: What was the main conflict? Who was the hero? Was there a villain? What facts caught your attention and made you want to know more? How did it resolve?
  5. Discuss key elements of every great TRUE story: Characters, setting, plot, conflict, resolution and FACT.
  6. With older students: Review examples of different forms of non-fiction with older groups including creative non-fiction, essay, news reports, and opinion writing.

GOAL: Students will learn the essential elements of telling an interesting true story.

Fake News Facts

Slightly adjusted for grades ranging from 4- 12.

Synopsis:

There is no better and no worse source of information than the Internet. Fake news is everywhere online. And while most of our students are savvy enough to know it, its presence is eroding their sense of trust and security.  In this fun and interactive 55-minute session, Carissa Halton explores the different kinds of fake news, the reason for its creation, the methods for its dissemination, and how we can all be part of the problem and solution. Sharing her experiences as a journalist and government communications staffer, she shares how students can know who to trust online (because not EVERYTHING is fake!) and help them feel more confident to spot the fakers!  Students will learn about the tools in a journalist’s toolbox to help them write the truth and see examples of both fake news and legitimate news stories. By the end of the session, students will feel more confident about what they can trust online and empowered to be part of the solution to combat fake news.

At a time when the Internet is the go-to space for kids’ information—both in and out of school—this session will inspire ongoing conversation in the classroom.

Virtual Session Setup

In-room mic and camera is required (so there is 2-way audio and speaker capability). Preferably classroom camera is positioned so I can see the room and students from the front.

I am happy to provide zoom link or work with school’s google meet system. Reminder that if we are using google meet, they will need to ensure my email (carissahalton@hotmail.com is what I use for my google account) is recognized by their system as a guest- otherwise I can’t always enter into schools’ ‘digital’ environment.

Maximum classroom logins to one session: 2

Language: English only

Teacher Guide Available: Will include follow up assignments and ideas for further study.

Carissa’s in-person presentation rates:

Half day fee: $450

Full day fee: $700

Bibliography

Little Yellow House: Finding Community in a Changing Neighbourhood. Gutteridge Books September 2018

“A New Kind of Simakanis” in The Broadview Anthology of Expository Prose, 3e – Canadian Edition, ed.Written By Carissa Halton, Broadview Press 2017

“Lost Fires Still Burn’ in the anthology In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation. Brindle and Glass 2016

Awards

Alberta Magazine Award, Winner: Alberta Story for Different Kind of Simakanis 2016

National Magazine Award, Winner: Society Category; Nominated: Journalism Category for Different Kind of Simakanis 2016

Reviews

“This book is an excellent resource for communities wanting to create change. It can also be a starting point for discussion with students in professional programs—nursing, social work, public health—and academic disciplines, such as sociology and anthropology, to focus on identifying Who are the vulnerable? Who gets to decide that they’re vulnerable? and What community-based solutions honour lifestyle choices? Little Yellow House shows readers there are ways of working and living together that really do respect diversity. I loved this book.”

Judith Kulig, Alberta Views