Monday, March 10, 2014

Skyping with Authors

I have recently discovered the power of Skype! I think I am going to find as many ways to use it in my library as I possibly can! Skype allows me to connect my students with experts and "real people" that they would not otherwise get to meet. 
I love the excitement I share with the students and teachers when preparing for our Skype time. When I recently told one fourth grader that we were going to Skype with Liesl Shurtliff, author of Rump: The true story behind Rumplestilskin, the girl gasped and said, "Oh, Mrs. Lewis that is going to be AMAZING! I love that book!" I also enjoy listening to the interaction and authentic learning that takes place during the Skype session. It doesn't matter how many times their teachers tell them to reread and edit a paper, when Ridley Pearson tells a group of fifth graders that, they listen!

Two classes of fourth graders recently had the wonderful opportunity to Skype with Liesl Shurtliff (@LieslShurtliff on Twitter). She was so kind to the students, and patient with me as my new Windows 8 laptop app did not want to show the video portion during our chat time, even though it worked perfectly the day before! If you don't know her book, check out the book trailer here:

This is her first novel, and she talked about how long it took her to get a final draft ready to publish. Students had prepared several great questions, including how she got her idea, how she picked the names for the characters, and what her next book will be.

I also had the chance to Skype with some fifth graders and Ridley Pearson, author of the Peter and the Starcatcher series as well as the Kingdom Keepers series.

Meadow Wood students enjoyed joining in a group Skype chat where Mr. Pearson was talking with 5 classes at the same time! It was great to be able to share this interview with students across the United States in celebration of World Read Aloud Day! He shared the fact that he has a VIP Disney Pass that allows him access to behind the scenes areas, and access to the parks after hours so he can accurately portray the feeling of an abandoned theme park. He says he has seen parts of the rides move when they shouldn't be moving! (Could Disney Parks really  be haunted?) He was so enthusiastic about his writing and encouraged the students to build their writing skills. The take away tips he gave the students were, "Don't turn anything in unless you have edited it first." and "Keep a journal to write down ALL of your ideas in."

I can't wait to set up another Skype session soon! It is such a valuable tool! Teachers: check out Skype and Skype in the Classroom to get connected today!

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