Monday, May 12, 2014

Connect authors and students through Skype

Today the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders had the exciting privilege to Skype with Fablehaven author Brandon Mull. It was an AMAZING experience! Students have been reading his books all school year and we have several devoted fans. Many students have even purchased a signed copy of his latest book, Five Kingdoms: Skyraiders. Students have been waiting for months for this opportunity to meet a real author.

It's hard to see Mr. Mull on the screen in these pictures, but he was really there - right from his own home in Utah!

The students gathered in the school's MPR where I had set up my laptop and a projector. When I placed the Skype call they giggled at the sound of the phone dialing, and when he answered and his picture appeared in the video feed a cheer went up! They were excited to finally meet the author we have been talking about for weeks!

We had a 3rd grade student, who described himself as Mr. Mull's biggest fan, introduce Mr. Mull to the school. Mr. Mull then talked about some of his books and the inspiration behind them. He described the process he goes through for writing and he gave some hints about current and future writing projects.

He selected 3 students from the audience and played a (virtual) game with them to demonstrate how students can use their own imagination to create their own make believe world for a story. The kids loved that activity.

Prior to the Skype we had students submit questions they had for Mr. Mull. Several students were then selected to ask their question. One of the students, who was obviously a huge fan, practically swooned at the computer as she asked her question. The questions were excellent questions: Which of your novels is your favorite? What is your favorite non-Brandon Mull book? What do you read to your kids?

This was a fantastic experience for all the students. They were engaged, focused, and really excited to meet one of their favorite authors.

Skyping is an excellent way to bring authors right into your classroom to inspire budding readers and writers. If you are interested in Skyping with an author, Kate Messner has created a fantastic resource to connect with other authors who Skype: Authors Who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs (for free!)

Skyping is not limited to just authors. You can bring almost any expert into the classroom. Skype in the Classroom offers resources to help classrooms connect with experts in a variety of fields. Check out their resources on their Guest Speakers website.

What has been your experience with Skyping with authors? If you could Skype with an author, who would it be?

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