Recently, I discovered a way to use technology to connect students sitting in my classroom directly and intimately with the world around them. Although I use Twitter to share the many wonderful things happening at my school, I additionally use it daily for my own professional growth. I read articles, share educational ideas and best practices, attend Twitter chats, and network with other professionals. It is through this networking that I connected with many children’s authors who are passionate about their craft and more than willing to share the art of writing children’s books with others.
I took advantage of these new connections to invite several authors to Skype with my second grade Writing Club and they accepted! In order to become proficient in any craft one must learn from the successes of others. So, we read books by different authors, studied their crafts, determined which features we wanted to include in our own writing, and then enjoyed the opportunity to meet the authors LIVE through Skype and asked specific questions! What an amazing experience for these young authors to learn from the pros!
Our first Skype author was Jarrett Learner, author of Enginerds, a chapter book about boys and robots in a funny fast-paced novel for the middle grades. His advice to students was to read and read and write even more, and then do it all over again. He told them not to give up because authors have to persevere, as it can take years and many manuscripts before getting even one published.
Connecting students to others in the world with whom they otherwise might not have an opportunity to interact with, makes the world seem just a bit smaller and provides a powerful and meaningful experience that is certain to have a lasting effect on all those involved. As one inspired “young author” exclaimed, “This is so cool! I want to be an author like him one day and I know I will!”