For Educators

Educators and books literally changed my life and, working with experienced educators, we’ve developed a bounty of free resources for you below. I also love to do virtual and in-person school visits around the corner and around the world. You can contact me through the form on the bottom of this page.  We’re continuing to develop new resources and would love to hear from you. about what would best help support you in your work.  I’m always happy to collaborate on developing a program for a whole-school read of Smack Dab or a book fair or other event using Smack Dab.  You can read about some of the programs that I’ve done here. In addition, I have two grant opportunities for educators. You can read more about them here.


Free Resources

I am happy to offer #goopen resources for teachers to use in their classrooms. Explore the links below for these free resources!

To apply to for a grant valued at $2500 to take part in a free mentored implementation of the “Building Grit Kit,” click on this link.

Jo Hackl was an absolute treat to have visit our school. As evidenced by her realistic portrayal of Cricket in Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe, Jo completely gets the natural curiosity of our elementary students– her audience was enthralled with her storytelling, props, and relevant insights on the writing and editing process. My only regret of Jo’s visit to our school was not having enough time to have her work with students on some of her writing-specific presentations, like “using the power of poetry techniques to make your writing shine.” Students connected with Jo, not just because they love her book, but because they were respected as fellow writers, readers, and nature-lovers.

–Mollee Holloman, Manteo Elementary

Jo Hackl takes young readers on an adventurous journey filled with resilience, love and suspense. The way she intricately weaves together people and places kept my scholars wanting to spend hours combing through the novel.  My scholars were able to escape the world’s “New Norm” of masks and quarantine and live vicariously through Cricket as she races the clock on her quest for “home.”

– N. Cole –  Communities In Schools, Morningside Middle School

I also offer special incentives to educators who order Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe for their classroom libraries!

Please email [email protected] to let us know that you bought the book, and we will send you some free Smack Dab swag, like a signed poster and a flowering plant fort kit. You will also be entered to win a Skype or in-person visit to your classroom.

For additional resources and activities, be sure to check out what I have for readers and book clubs!

School Visits (Virtual Options Available)

I offer school visits year-round to educators and students throughout the world. To schedule a school visit or school event, please contact me or use the form below.  If your dates are flexible, please indicate that, and we can work together to find a time that works for us both.

Please follow this link to the school visit flyer.

I offer a variety of presentations and workshops for elementary and middle school audiences and am happy to collaborate to tailor a whole school read, book fair, or cross curricular program.  You can find out more about collaborations I have done through this link.  I also offer presentations including:

Fee: In lieu of an honorarium, I ask that you buy copies of Smack Dab for children that you select, and I am happy to personally inscribe each one with a note of encouragement.

Writing and Revision Techniques that Really Work (Grade 3 – Adult)

Would you like to take your students’ writing to the next level? This session will equip you and your students with tools and techniques to make their writing (both academic and creative) more powerful, more persuasive, and more fun. It also encourages students to embrace revision as an integral part of the writing process. Handouts include a variety of writing prompts, brainstorming tools, tips to keep inspiration close at hand, and bookmark revision tools designed to be used for both creative writing and academic essays.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing but Were Afraid to Ask (Grade 3 – Adult)

Now is the chance for your students to get a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process. In this interactive session, I offer insights about lessons I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, and how my writing and revision process has evolved.  I also answer student questions and brainstorm with students about how to turn their ideas into polished pieces of work.

A Ghost Town, A Reclusive Artist, and a Poetry-Loving Dog:  Drawing Inspiration from Real Life (Grade 3 – Adult)

Sometimes the best ideas for works of fiction come from real life. This session provides a behind-the-scenes look at the inspiration and research for Smack Dab and explores how participants can draw upon their own experiences to create characters who come alive, settings that feel lived-in, and plots that keep the reader engaged from the first page to the last word. The presentation and handouts include worksheets for mining personal experiences for character, setting and plot ideas, and  tools and techniques to translate those ideas into stories that connect with readers. 

Using the Power of Poetry to Improve Your Overall Writing (Grade 4 – Adult)

Poetry can be a powerful tool for students to express their diverse perspectives, honor the perspectives of others, and improve overall writing skills. This session presents tips and techniques that poets use in their craft to brainstorm, create and refine their work. The session also provides practical ways to help students use poetic techniques to become more critical readers and to make their own writing stronger. Handouts include a revision tool to use the power of poetry to improve overall writing.

Explore Your Natural World through Cricket Challenges (Grade 3 – Adult)

Study after study has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, boost creativity, and improve well-being, and that students benefit from making cross-curricular connections, but how do you inspire students to use nature to make connections between their readings, their own world and STEM subjects? This session presents a series of nature-based “Cricket Challenges,” nature-based activities designed to encourage curiosity and interaction with the natural world and to help students make cross-curricular STEM connections to fictional stories and non-fiction works. Handouts include Cricket Challenges to help students explore their natural world.

Harnessing the Power of Nature to Make You Happier, More Creative, and Less Stressed (Grade 2 – Adult)

Research shows that engaging with nature makes students happier, more creative, and less stressed, but how do you start? This session presents easy, free, and low-cost ways to make nature a part of every day. Handouts include free nature activities.

Becoming the Hero in Your Own Story with the Building Grit Kit (Grade 3 – Adult)

We all know that grit, resiliency, and social-emotional awareness are key qualities for student success but how do we go about building them? This session introduces students to the free “Building Grit Kit,” (developed and revised over three years in collaboration with experienced professionals) and primes students for success. A version of the kit is available for both young readers and young adults. Each kit helps students become the hero in their own story by setting personal goals, brainstorming potential obstacles to those goals, and developing strategies to help them navigate around those obstacles. Through the activities, students identify their strengths and things they would like to work on. Students also identify positive adult role models who can help them achieve their goals. They explore positive habits that they can build into their daily lives to help them become the best version of themselves. Each kit also includes team-building activities and nature activities to help students explore their natural world and reduce stress. Handouts include the Building Grit Kit.

Engaging Your Curiosity to Take Your Writing to the Next Level (Grade 3 – Adult)

Curious students are engaged learners. This session provides the backstory of how curiosity created a career and a novel. In the session I lead students through an exploration of things about which they are curious and, with handouts and activities, provide students with a template to capture their ideas and map out next steps for turning their ideas into academic essays, research papers, and creative writing pieces.

Making Books Come Alive with Music (Grade 3 – Adult)

We all know that students learn in a variety of ways. In this session I help students explore the book they are studying by creating a chapter-by-chapter playlist, with a narrative explaining the connection between the song and the chapter, and playlist artwork that relates to the overall theme of the book. I provide examples of each. Students learn to critically examine each element in their book and song, and to write from the perspective of a music critic as they engage more deeply with the world of the book’s characters and explore the setting, history, and culture that shaped the book characters’ choices.

Book Jo

If you’re interested in having Jo visit your school (in-person or virtually) or attend your school event, please fill out the following form:

School Visit
Grade Level of Students
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