Welcome to the Virtual Classroom!

Computers and the internet have given us teachers a really nice present:  the ability to open our classrooms and allow the world into them!

Computers?  The world?  This is a KidLit blog?  What are you talking about?
Photo CC – by mrmayo

Why, it is virtual author visits!  This week I read Kate Messner’s Skyping Renaissance article and it made me even more excited to open my classroom up to the world.  Messner presents us with interesting facts about having authors or other experts visit classrooms virtually.  This is amazing – especially when you live in a small town not very near to an airport.  By arranging a Skype (or Google Hangout) author visit, your students get a chance to meet with some of their favorite authors, ask questions, and take part in our global world.

Would I want virtual author visits?  YES!

There are so many advantages to using technology in a middle grades reading classroom, and Skyping authors is only one of them.  If Skype author visits can be arranged with students’ favorite authors, or the author of the class novel or class read aloud, students will be able to get a connection with someone they may not otherwise have the chance to meet.  They can ask the author questions.  The author can share tips, tricks, and anecdotes.  These are experiences that my middle grade, small-town students may not otherwise get.

There are drawbacks to Skype author visits.  The biggest would have to be issues with internet connectivity.  In our small, Wyoming town the wind often blows – which makes our internet spotty on the best of days.  Issues with technology speed also impact the ability to use Skype.  As technology evolves at a rapid pace, schools are not always able to afford to update classroom technology at that rate.  When classrooms or schools do not have the latest technology, connectivity and processor speed can severely impact the ability to use Skype.

However, if it is important enough, we can advocate for the technology and invite the world into our classrooms!


So….who’s on my author visit dream-list?

First, let me say that I would want my students to choose an author they are fans of and want to have visit us.  When they are excited, I think they will be more motivated to be engaged during the visit.

Secondly, I think that participating in an event like the Global Read Aloud, where my students can interact with students across the globe, would be a milestone experiences for them.

So, my personal list?

J.K. Rowling – She is hilarious on Twitter and seems very open to communicating with fans.

Dan Santat – I have recently discovered his work and am in awe of his abilities.  Also, my students love his books.

Katherine Applegate – I absolutely loved The One and Only Ivan and cannot wait to read Crenshaw.  She also seems to be a very active author who visits with students across the country.

Gregory Maguire – So, he’s not necessarily a children’s author (although he wrote the hilarious Leaping Beauty), but he is probably my favorite author of all time.

Who would be on your author visit list?  Do you think that virtual author visits are something you’d like to try?  Let’s talk below….

7 thoughts on “Welcome to the Virtual Classroom!

  1. It’s great to read of some positives as it pertains to technology. I think that Skyping within the classroom is such a fantastic idea! It really does allow the user an endless opportunity at accessing the world. I feel that this sort of technique would prove to be inspiring in regards to education for the students as well. Thank you for sharing!


    1. I would also think that authors would be more likely to have a Skype visit with students in rural or hard to get to classrooms!


  2. I personally do not think I have ever used Skype, but I think it would be a great tool in the classroom. I thought you made a good point that in some towns, there are no airports so kids don’t really get the opportunity to see people from other places. Skype would be a great way to help that problem.


  3. I also really like the idea of Skyping with authors. Students could learn a lot from the author, and, like you mentioned, it could be an excellent motivator. But I can definitely see how there could be some “technical difficulties” that get in the way too.


    1. I would worry about the technical problems, especially here in WY. I think we will need to advocate for improved Internet and computers to make this a viable alternative.


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