Author Feature-Travis Nichols


Spirit of Texas Reading Program

Middle School

Featured Author

Travis Nichols

Travis Nichols

Matthew Meets the Man

A former member of Austin indie bands The Needies and Omega Monster Patrol, Travis Nichols is all too familiar with the joys and heartaches of starting a band. He has also authored Punk Rock Etiquette: The Ultimate How-To Guide for D.I.Y., Punk, Indie, and Underground Bands for Roaring Brook Press, and can be found online. He lives in San Francisco, CA. 

Author Video Coming Soon


Find him on the web:

Author Website

Book Website



Publisher Website



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Book Trailer

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Matthew Meets the Man Reading Quiz

Printable Copy


  1. Matthew plays what instrument in the school band? 
    1. Drums 
    2. Trumpet 
    3. Flute
    4. Xylophones
  2. Which is NOT an example of The Man? 
    1. The Band Director
    2. The Police
    3. Hope 
    4. Matthew's Parents
  3. How do Matthew and his friends show that they like a girl?  
    1. Toilet paper her house 
    2. Send notes in class 
    3. Send flowers 
    4. Hold hands in the hallway 
  4. Where does Matthew get his first job? 
    1. The music store 
    2. The pizza place 
    3. Babysitting his cousin 
    4. His uncle's restaurant
  5. What is the Book of Records? 
    1. A list of things Matthews friends accomplish 
    2. A list of music Matthew owns 
    3. A list of people who owe Matthew money 
    4. A list of bands Matthew likes 
  6. Why was Matthew disappointed with his first paycheck? 
    1. His uncle cheated him 
    2. Taxes were taken out 
    3. His parents took all his money 
    4. He lost the check.
  7. How did Matthew get to take money for concerts? 
    1. He interviewed for the job 
    2. The doorman got beat up 
    3. He begged the owner for a job 
    4. The doorman ate a bad burrito 
  8. What's the name of Matthew's band?
    1. The Franklin Five 
    2. Susie Muttonchops 
    3. Manhassler 
    4. Sendak Sendak
  9. How did Matthew get his drums? 
    1. His parents bought them for his birthday 
    2. His grandparents gave him money 
    3. He found different parts and made others 
    4. He stole them
  10. What was the band's song about 
    1. Girls 
    2. A video game 
    3. School 
    4. Parents

Answer Key

  1. B
  2. C
  3. A
  4. D
  5. A
  6. B
  7. D
  8. C
  9. C
  10. B

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Academic Program
Career Reseach 

Printable Copy

Introduction/Purpose of Program

Students will use the Occupational Outlook Handbook Online ( and the O*NET OnLine ( to research a chosen career. Instruction will include the various ways to search (by keyword, alphabetically, or subject area). Students will create a short report about the career and a visual (poster, Glogster, PowerPoint) with graphics about the career.


Career Development, Middle School

(1) The student explores personal interests and aptitudes as they relate to education and career planning. The student is expected to:

(A) complete, discuss, and analyze the results of personality, career interest, and aptitude assessments;

(B) explore the career clusters as defined by the U.S. Department of Education;

(C) summarize the career opportunities in a cluster of personal interest;

(D) research current and emerging fields related to personal interest areas;

(E) determine academic requirements in career fields related to personal interest areas;

(F) explore how career choices impact the balance between personal and professional responsibilities; and

(G) research educational options and requirements using appropriate technology.

(2) The student analyzes personal interests and aptitudes regarding education and career planning. The student is expected to:

(A) create a personal career portfolio;

(B) make oral presentations that fulfill specific purposes using appropriate technology;

(C) develop and analyze tables, charts, and graphs related to career interests;

(D) determine the impact of technology on careers of personal interest; and

Technology Applications

(2) Communication and collaboration. The student collaborates and communicates both locally and globally to reinforce and promote learning. The student is expected to:

(A) create and manage personal learning networks to collaborate and publish with peers, experts, or others using digital tools such as blogs, wikis, audio/video communication, or other emerging technologies;

(B) communicate effectively with multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats; and

(C) create and publish products using technical writing strategies.

(3) Research and information fluency. The student acquires, analyzes, and manages content from digital resources. The student is expected to:

(A) create a research plan to guide inquiry;

(B) plan, use, and evaluate various search strategies, including keyword(s) and Boolean operators;

(C) select and evaluate various types of digital resources for accuracy and validity; and

(D) process data and communicate results.

(5) Digital citizenship. The student practices safe, responsible, legal, and ethical behavior while using technology tools and resources. The student is expected to:

(A) understand, explain, and practice copyright principles, including current laws, fair use guidelines, creative commons, open source, and public domain;

(B) practice and explain ethical acquisition of information and standard methods for citing sources;

English Language Arts and Reading

(14) Writing/Writing Process. Students use elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Students are expected to:

(A) plan a first draft by selecting a genre appropriate for conveying the intended meaning to an audience, determining appropriate topics through a range of strategies (e.g., discussion, background reading, personal interests, interviews), and developing a thesis or controlling idea;

(B) develop drafts by choosing an appropriate organizational strategy (e.g., sequence of events, cause-effect, compare-contrast) and building on ideas to create a focused, organized, and coherent piece of writing;

(C) revise drafts to ensure precise word choice and vivid images; consistent point of view; use of simple, compound, and complex sentences; internal and external coherence; and the use of effective transitions after rethinking how well questions of purpose, audience, and genre have been addressed;

(D) edit drafts for grammar, mechanics, and spelling; and

(E) revise final draft in response to feedback from peers and teacher and publish written work for appropriate audiences.

(17) Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to:

(A) write a multi-paragraph essay to convey information about a topic that:

(i) presents effective introductions and concluding paragraphs;

(ii) contains a clearly stated purpose or controlling idea;

(iii) is logically organized with appropriate facts and details and includes no extraneous information or inconsistencies;

(iv) accurately synthesizes ideas from several sources; and

(v) uses a variety of sentence structures, rhetorical devices, and transitions to link paragraphs;

(D) produce a multimedia presentation involving text, graphics, images, and sound using available technology.

(22) Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to:

(A) brainstorm, consult with others, decide upon a topic, and formulate a major research question to address the major research topic; and

(B) apply steps for obtaining and evaluating information from a wide variety of sources and create a written plan after preliminary research in reference works and additional text searches.

(23) Research/Gathering Sources. Students determine, locate, and explore the full range of relevant sources addressing a research question and systematically record the information they gather. Students are expected to:

(A) follow the research plan to gather information from a range of relevant print and electronic sources using advanced search strategies;

(B) categorize information thematically in order to see the larger constructs inherent in the information;

(C) record bibliographic information (e.g., author, title, page number) for all notes and sources according to a standard format; and

(D) differentiate between paraphrasing and plagiarism and identify the importance of using valid and reliable sources.

(24) Research/Synthesizing Information. Students clarify research questions and evaluate and synthesize collected information. Students are expected to:

(A) narrow or broaden the major research question, if necessary, based on further research and investigation; and

(B) utilize elements that demonstrate the reliability and validity of the sources used (e.g., publication date, coverage, language, point of view) and explain why one source is more useful and relevant than another.

(25) Research/Organizing and Presenting Ideas. Students organize and present their ideas and information according to the purpose of the research and their audience. Students are expected to synthesize the research into a written or an oral presentation that:

(A) draws conclusions and summarizes or paraphrases the findings in a systematic way;

(B) marshals evidence to explain the topic and gives relevant reasons for conclusions;

(C) presents the findings in a meaningful format; and

(D) follows accepted formats for integrating quotations and citations into the written text to maintain a flow of ideas.

Detailed Description of the Program

Day 1:
Students will need access to the Internet.
Each student will have a copy of the Online Career Research handout.

Introduce students to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The OOH is based on the most popular careers in the US - the careers that most people have. The information is updated every two years and is based on government statistics (especially wage info). Demonstrate the ways the OOH can be searched - by occupational group/cluster, by alphabet, by keyword, or other options. This would be a great time to talk about search strategies, especially how to narrow or widen a search by choosing different words (physician vs doctor) and the importance of spelling in a search. Students will complete the first page of the handout using the OOH.

After students have finished the first page, direct students to the O*Net Online. O*Net is also managed by the US Bureau of Labor. It lists over 900 careers but is not updated as regularly. "My Next Move" is a more streamlined version of the information presented in the main O*Net search. This may be useful for students who need modifications. Demonstrate the ways the O*Net can be searched - by keyword, by career cluster, by job family, or by interests or skills. Students will complete the second page of the handout using the O*Net.

Day 2 and 3:
Students will choose a career to research. They will gather information on the career from both resources and fill in the chart on the 3rd page of the handout. Students may need some instruction on the different phrasing used for each category. At the end of the handout is a place for students to state which resource they preferred and why.

When students have finished comparing the resources, introduce the Research Project. Students will create a visual report about their career. Graphics must be included (with citations for all graphics and research). Options for the project include: folder collage, Glogster, PowerPoint.

Once the project has been introduced, students can continue their research using the "Career Research Outline." Time will be needed to gather information, download graphics, and create project.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
Planet Tad by Tim Carvell
Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger
The Big Game of Everything by Chris Lynch

List of Supplies

Computers or devices with Internet Access


These projects could lead to a career fair where students display their work and talk with other students about the careers they researched.


Professional Resources (for librarian and teacher use)

  • Achieve Texas
  • Check the Live Binders for Career Planning & Development Resources and for Career Clusters.

Program Flyers, Posters, Advertisements, Bulletin Board Ideas, Templates, Rubrics, etc.

Bulletin Board Idea - Career Pathways Clusters

Online Career Research Handout

Research Project Rubric


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Active Program

Air Guitar Contest or Battle of the Air Bands Contest

Printable Copy

Purpose of Program

The Air Guitar Contest is a fun, musical program to pair with the book Matthew Meets the Man by Travis Nichols. The book culminates with the main character, Matthew, and his band competing in a Battle of the Bands with homemade instruments.

Detailed Description of the Program

This program follows the rules as set forth by the US Air Guitar and the Air Guitar World Championships. The program can be presented exactly as stipulated by the US Air Guitar World Championship rules (below) with singular contestants performing solo air guitar or modified as a Battle of the Air Bands Contest with contestants performing as a group using all air instruments (e.g. lip singer, air guitar, air bass, air drums...).


OFFICIAL RULES OF COMPETITION (taken from the US Air Guitar website)

US Air Guitar obeys the rules set forth by the Air Guitar World Championships:

- Each performance is played to 1 minute (60 sec.) of a song

- The 60 seconds can start anywhere in the song

- The instrument must be invisible & be a guitar, i.e. air drums not allowed

- Air roadies are allowed, but must leave the stage before the performance

- Back-up bands (air or real) are not allowed

US Air Guitar contests each consist of two rounds:

- Round 1 (freestyle): each competitor performs to a song of their choice

- Round 2 (compulsory): top competitors from round 1 perform surprise song


The jury is a panel of independent judges. The results of the jury cannot be protested. All performances are scored on a scale from 4.0 to 6.0 – 6.0 being the highest possible. Scores are given to one decimal point (e.g. 5.4, not 5.48). A single score is given to each air guitarist based on their overall performance in that round.

The score reflects the quality of the performance based on three key criteria:

1. Technical merit: You don't have to know what notes you're playing, but the more your invisible fretwork corresponds to the music that's playing, the better the performance.

2. Stage presence: Anyone can do it in the privacy of their bedroom. Few have what it takes to rock a crowd of hundreds or even thousands – all without an instrument.

3 "Airness": The last criteria is the most difficult to define yet often the most decisive of all. Airness is defined as the extent to which a performance transcends the imitation of a real guitar and becomes an art form in and of itself.

Please note: the scores from BOTH ROUNDS are added to determine the contestants' final scores. This combined score determines the winner. Confusion over this detail was the cause of a controversy in the 2006 Finals that tore at the very fabric of competitive air guitar.

Program Related Books to Display or Book Talk

Matthew Meets the Man Read-a-Likes 

List of Supplies

A stage and a sound and lighting system are key to the success of this program, but not required. A simple performance area in the front of a classroom or program room and a "boom box" to play the music can suffice. A judging panel (as few or as many as your staff will allow) will need to be selected, as well as an MC and someone to run sound (start/stop the music).


Prizes can be given out to the winners at your discretion. Prizes could include books with a music theme, music cds (for continued air guitar practice), concert dvds, or even just simple or handmade trophies, ribbons, or certificates.


Professional Resources (for librarian and teacher use)

Program Flyers, Posters, Advertisements, Bulletin Board Ideas, Templates, Rubrics, etc.

Sample Program Flyer

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Self-Directed Program
Create Your Own Instrument 

Printable Copy

Purpose of Program

The Build Your Own Instrument program is a craft, art, and/or music program to pair with the book Matthew Meets the Man by Travis Nichols. In the story, because he cannot afford to buy himself a drum set, Matthew builds his own using found objects.

Detailed Description of the Program

This program includes instructions to make several different types of musical instruments. Choose as many or as few as you'd like to fit your programs' needs.

Create Your Own... Harmonica
List of Supplies: each instrument requires 2 tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks, 1 thick rubber band, 2 thin rubber bands, cardstock or other thick paper, tape, and scissors.

Instructions: Stack the two tongue depressors on top of each other. Cut the cardstock into a strip about ½ – ¾" wide and long enough to wrap around the narrow ends of the stacked tongue depressors. Wrap the strips around the narrow end of the sticks and tape the strip together to secure. Repeat the process on the other end of the stick. Remove one of the tongue depressors and set it aside. Take the thick rubber band and wrap it once lengthwise around the tongue depressor, making sure the paper strips stay close to the ends of the harmonica. Now take the other tongue depressor and place it back on top of the harmonica. Wrap a thin rubber band around each narrow end of the harmonica to secure the sticks together. For added flair, the tongue depressors can be decorated before assembling the harmonica. To play, place the harmonica gently between your lips and blow.

Create Your Own... Bottle Cap Shaker
List of Supplies: each instrument requires 1 dowel rod, 6 bottle caps, and 3 small nails. Tools needed are 1 large nail (for punching holes), a hammer.

Instructions: The dowel rods can be decorated (painted, colored with markers, stickers, wrapped in colorful paper) prior to assembling the instrument. Using the larger nail, hammer a hole in the center of each bottle cap. Place the flat sides of two bottle caps together, insert one of the smaller nails through the center hole, and hammer it into the side of the dowel rod. Repeat the process with the remaining bottle caps, nailing them around the end of the dowel rod. To play: Shake the dowel rod in the air.

Create Your Own... Oboe
List of Supplies: each instrument requires 1 straw. That's it! Straws of different widths create different tones, so perhaps have a variety of straws available. Tools needed are a pair of scissors and a straight pin.

Instructions: Flatten out one end of the straw as much as possible. Snip the sides of the flattened end so that the straw has a pointed tip. Using a straight pin, puncture four holes down the length of the straw. To play, place the pointed end of the straw in your mouth and pinch the straw slightly where it meets your lips. Place your fingers over the holes and blow through the straw, removing and replacing your fingers over the holes as you blow.

Create Your Own... Rain Stick
List of Supplies: each instrument requires 1 wrapping paper or paper towel tube, a strip of aluminum foil equal to the length of the paper tube, 2 balloons, and some rice, beans, lentils, or unpopped popcorn kernels. You may need some scissors.

Instructions: Paper tubes can be decorated (painted, colored with markers, stickers, wrapped in colorful paper) prior to assembling the instrument or after. Scrunch the aluminum foil into a long coil and insert into the paper tube. Secure a balloon to one end of the paper tube. You may need to cut the open end of the balloon off for it to fit securely over the paper tube without hanging off. Next, pour some of the rice, beans, lentils, popcorn or whatever you are using as a noisemaker into the tube. Secure the remaining balloon over the other end of the rain stick. To play, tip the stick so the rice/beans travel down the length of the tube.

Create Your Own... Tambourine
List of Supplies: each instrument requires 1 plastic paper plate or bowl, ribbon, 5 washers, and 5 jingle bells. Tools needed are a hole puncher and some scissors.

Instructions: The plastic paper plates or bowls can be decorated (painted, colored with markers, stickers) prior to assembling the instrument. Use the hole puncher to create 5 holes along the edges of the plate or bowl. Be sure to leave a large space with no holes for a hand hold. Next, cut a few inches length of ribbon and thread it through a washer and a jingle bell and then thread the ribbon through one of the holes in the plate and tie loosely, leaving room for the washer and jingle bell to jingle. Repeat this process for the remaining holes in the plate.

Program Related Books or Book Talk

Matthew Meets the Man Read-a-likes list

List of Supplies

Supplies for each project are listed with their instructions.

Professional Resources (for librarian and teacher use)


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Academic Program

Online Career Reseach Handout

Research Project Rubric

Active Program

Program Flyer

Book Quiz


Self-Directed Program

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Created on Mar 26, 2014 | Last updated July 15, 2015