Sari Wilson

Photo by Seth Kushner

I am a New York-based educational writer and curriculum developer with an interest in interactive content and graphic literature. My experience includes interactive educational content and games, books for classrooms and school libraries, and educational marketing materials. I also create teachers’ guides, lesson plans, curriculum guides, and perform outreach to educational communities. Clients include Lion Television/PBS, Scholastic, Holt McDougal, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Classroom, Inc., and Teachers & Writers Collaborative.

I am also a published fiction writer. Click here to see more.

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Upcoming Graphic Novel/Visual Storytelling workshop at Fine Arts Work Center

Bestselling cartoonist Josh Neufeld and I co-taught a comics-making workshop last summer in at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and it was a really rewarding experience—for us and for our students. We had a great mix of “serious” comics-makers and writers trying out the form for the first time. (In fact, one of last year’s students was recently accepted to the Master’s program at the Center for Cartoon Studies, so we feel pretty proud of that!)

FAWC Summer Program

We learned that nothing makes a better combination than writing and art, summer, and beautiful P-town. So that’s why we’ll be teaching the class again this summer, during the week of July 21–26.

Our workshop is called The Graphic Novel: At the Intersection of Writing and Drawing, and here’s the class description:

In his seminal work Understanding Comics, cartoonist Scott McCloud writes, “The art form—the medium—known as comics is a vessel which can hold any number of ideas and images.” This class will explore the dynamic realm of sequential art, and the ways that graphic novels/comics can produce powerful moments of frisson between words and images. Some find their way to the form through their writing and others through their art—comics allows for both options. To that end, we as workshop leaders offer two perspectives: that of a cartoonist and that of a writer. We welcome confident storytellers in either, or ideally both, arenas. If you’re “just” a writer, we believe that you can learn to draw in a way that will serve your words.

Participants should have an idea for a sequential narrative and preferably some existing notes, scripts, and/or art. We’ll unpack how comics are constructed: from scripting to page layouts to thumbnailing to creating finished art. We’ll explore the ideas and images you bring to the table, and through group feedback generate ways you can hone your vision. We’ll also spend some class time on various collaborative exercises we’ve found useful in producing strong comics work.

Although this class focuses on the comics form, experience shows that the skills we develop translate to many other visual storytelling modes—including storyboards, video games, and even PowerPoint presentations.

Please email a one-paragraph description of your project and what you hope to get out of the workshop to by July 1. In addition, please bring writing and drawing materials.

Click this link to find out more about the program and how to register. We’re very excited to work with a dynamic group of writers and cartoonists to produce some great new work!

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Video Writing with Scholastic

This summer I had the great opportunity to I launch my exploration into video writing and co-producing with Teaching Tips in a Minute. Tips in a Minute is a sequence of instructional and promotional videos for Scholastic’s classroom magazines Storyworks and Scope.

Take a look at this one, featuring Lauren Tarshis, Editor of Storyworks.

I’ve been fortunate to work with a really talented team. Kudos to Rosa Jurjevics for bringing the visuals to life.

I’m proud to say that new line of skill-based videos has gotten great reception from the marketing team. We’re getting the word out about how extensively Storyworks and Scope‘s  nonfiction stories support the Common Core reading strategies.

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Immigration to America: The Interactive Timeline

I recently finished creating a timeline of the history of American immigration for the Scholastic teacher site, which covers (as much as possible, given constraints) the birth of this country to present day. One fascinating take-away: immigration is now at the highest level in America’s history–higher than the mass-influx Ellis Island period (1880-1920).

Screenshot of landing page for timeline

It was a great Whitmanesque crash course in the incredibly rich tapestry of America’s immigration history. After finishing the project, I took a little road trip and passed through American towns with a new understanding of the grit, hardship, and luck that went into building up each and every one of them.

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History Detectives: The Interactive Experience

I just had the very cool experience of playing through a module of HD Lab, the interactive detective game for which Sandhya and I created the content. It’s based on the popular PBS show History Detectives and features you as the player taking all the steps of a real detective. This module asks you to investigate an old knife and leads you to Hawaii. It features a sugar expert, a land clerk, and a snobby, germaphobic lady. But, sshh, I can’t say anymore–you’ll have to play the game! It’ll be up soon on PBS’s website…

Here are a few teaser screenshots:

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Writing the Future: NCTE Annual Convention

I’ve been so busy wrapping up the History Detectives gaming project (more on this soon) that I am just now planning for the upcoming NCTE Convention. I’m really excited to be on a panel moderated by the educator and author Katie Monnin, who is spearheading a great initiative in getting comics into classrooms. TRANSFORMING 21ST CENTURY AND PRESENT-DAY GRAPHIC NOVEL READERS INTO FUTURE GRAPHIC NOVEL WRITERS will be a hands-on session for educators in reading and writing in the graphic form. Also on the panel: Josh (our first time on a panel together!) and James Bucky Carter, as well as some other amazing creators. I’ll be bringing copies of my Scholastic book Forward 54th!, illustrated by Aaron McConnell, and some other nonfiction graphic novels that I think are worthy of study in the classroom (there are more and more every day!). I’m honored to be part of the National Council of Teachers of English Centennial celebration–with, what seems to me, a very appropriate slogan “we are reading the past and writing the future.”

State of Emergency is due out soon, but I don’t have a copy in hand yet. Still, I like to gaze at Josh’s art on the cover.  I’m proud of our merging of prose and comics forms in what feels like exciting ways.

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Forward, 54th!

My nonfiction graphic book Forward, 54thForward, 54th!: The
Story of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment
is out from Scholastic! It’s so exciting to see the wonderful illustrations Aaron McConnell did to bring the historical moment to life.  You can also read about Aaron’s process of illustrating on his blog.

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The Game of Life

I’m working with an incredibly  talented team of game designers, interactive producers, and content managers to create an original and, we hope, visionary online educational game. The deeper I get into development, the more I see the parallels between gaming and life. Gamers learn through feedback. In our lives, too, we are constantly learning through feedback—that’s how we adapt to our environment. Is it too programmatic to offer that if our behavior does not get us what we want, we modify our behavior? At the very least, we question and test our environment and then adapt. So, the challenge for game developers: How to create both an authentic gaming universe/experience that also works as a teaching platform? That is, how to observe life so deeply that we can both reproduce this world–or a simulacrum of it–and  write it large in an altered universe (because, finally, the game is a game, not life)?

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