Sunday, March 17, 2013

Skype Author Visit

No fancy title for this post, just down to the point. In my area, there really aren't any children's author visits to local bookstores. This was going to be my in for having authors come to visit my school for a rather reasonable price. But, now it's really only the public libraries who draw authors. There are local authors and as you found out with my last post, I was able to get Carolyn Mueller to speak with my students. One task I'm giving myself this summer is figuring out ways to get my students more connected with authors, illustrators, and the writing process that way.
One way this year that I did connect my students was through Skype author visits. It's so easy, all you need is a computer, internet connection, Skype software (free online), speakers, a computer video camera, and projector of some sort. Skype author visits can be free if you choose 10-15 minutes sessions with certain authors or you can pay more for a longer visit. I opted to pay a little more this time using my book budget (not a ridiculous amount).
My preschool, kindergarten, 1st, and 5th graders have now experienced this. I need to look into 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade after MAP testing. Only a handful of my students understand what Skype is, but others were fascinated by the idea of talking via video to a person. I was excited to bring this new piece of technology to them.
The two authors this was arranged with was Nina Crews (The Neighborhood Mother Goose) and Mike Artell (Petite Rouge: The Cajun Red Riding Hood). The visits were both nice, though the younger ones did get a bit antsy towards the end of their presentation. I'll be honest and say that you should really only have about 60 kids viewing a Skype session, unless you have a screen larger than a Promethean board. Lesson learned, won't try squeezing 100+ kids into a Skype session again.
The visit I really want to talk about was Mike Artell. Artell is an author and cartoonist. He was very friendly with the students, took a short time to introduce his books, even had students involved by asking them to say his tongue twisters (yes, he even has joke books). The last part of his session included the students drawing along with him. The majority of the students really got into this. He had them draw a shark, horse, cartooning facial expressions, and letter art. I'm posting some pictures below.
I can't wait to try another visit!

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