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?
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….