Guest Post by Author
I’ve seen first hand how much author visits excite students about reading and writing. personally, I love the live interaction with the kids! If your budget allows, make the commitment and host an author. If it doesn’t, Skype visits are another option.
I’ve been doing Skype sessions for three years now. I’ve “beamed in” to schools in the United States, Mexico, Canada and even India. It’s a great way to connect with my audience in a casual way and for the kids to ask a real author their burning questions.
At this time, my Skype sessions are free, and because of that, I’ve had a lot of requests! Mostly for the 100th day of school celebrations and Read Across America. I love Skyping since I can do it from the comfort of my office where I have quick access to show-and-tell examples. Plus the kids can see where I work and create. Sometimes they get to meet my cat when she walks in front of the camera!
How to improve your Skype visits:
- Do a test run. A few days before the scheduled visit, connect with the author via Skype and make sure your equipment is working. Is the sound clear? Does the author show up well on your smart board? Is there a time delay? Will your school allow the connection in the first place? Is there a part of the room that has a better connection? This is a good time to discuss with the author what you’d like him or her to talk about during the session. One school’s media person did a trial Skype visit with their teachers and me to show them how it all works before the teachers tried it on their own.
- Unless you specifically asked to have the author read his or her book, prepare the students by reading the stories ahead of time. That way there’s more time allotted during the session for the kids to ask questions.
- Have questions ready ahead of time. This is their time to ask the author anything about how he or she writes and how they got their ideas for particular stories. This is my favorite part of the session. I love hearing what the students are interested in, and what they want to know about me.
- Check with the author to see if he or she offers signed books. Even though the author isn’t signing live at your school, it’s still fun for the kids to get a signed book in the mail. Think of it as reminder of the experience and treasure for the child’s home library. If anything, ordering books is a polite gesture since the author is taking time out of his or her writing time to provide free entertainment and education for your class.
Try it! Your students will be excited to meet an author, even if it’s via a screen.
About Natasha Wing
Natasha Wing is the bestselling author of The Night Before series, and the ALA Notable book, An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers. She is currently Skyping for free via Skype in the Classroom, but due to overwhelming requests, will be charging a fee starting in April 2015. She also does live school visits. For more information, check her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Goodreads!