*First grade through mid-grade.
*Registered with Education Skype.
As the author of 14 books,
I love gassing up my Magic Carpet of Books,
. CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org
Read SAMPLE Chapters and
verses from all my books
Although I've used Skype before, I resisted doing Skype classroom visits until recently because I wasn't confident about the technology working properly. Since I first tried Skype, however, broadband services have improved and more schools are starting to do Skype visits with authors and illustrators.
Other reasons I decided to explore visiting schools via Skype:
- I lack the time and finances to visit schools outside of the Toronto area. I also don't drive, which makes transportation more of a hassle and time-consuming.
- I had so much fun talking to young readers during my NAKED! book tour (thanks, Simon & Schuster!) that I want to do more often than I have in the past, but am limited by the reasons mentioned above.
- Although I know it can't replace in-person visits, virtual school visits enable me to use more props in my presentations, a wider range of art supplies, show students around my home office, be able to pull out musical instruments (I have many) on whim.
- I know some schools can't afford a full school visit, so I decided to offer a 15-20 minute quickie visit. Those who want a longer visit can pay my regular fee. I'm also relatively new to school visits, so this also gives schools an idea of what I'm like in person. When I do my next book tour, whether sponsored by one of my publishers or funded on my own, hopefully some of these schools will be interested in having me visit.
What I did before my first Skype visit:
- I researched a TON, searching online for blog posts by children's book authors and illustrators who have done Skype visits, as well as posts by teachers and librarians about Skype visits. I was especially interested in posts by children's book illustrators, since we have the advantage of being able to do drawing demos. :-)
- I talked to my friend Lee Wardlaw, who was also my first children's book writing mentor. Lee has a huge amount of experience presenting at schools and bookstores in person as well as via Skype. Do check out her Presentations page as well as her Secrets To A Successful Skype Visit for educators.
- I worked with teacher-librarian Arlene Lipkewich and A. Blair McPherson for my very first school Skype visit. I started with a Skype test call with Arlene and another teacher, then a Skype call with Mrs. Brooke's second grade class. Arlene gave me useful feedback which I used to tweak my setup and presentation before I Skyped with five classes (115 students) of first-graders the following week. Thanks you, Arlene and A. Blair McPherson!
- I collected some of the useful resources I've found on my Skype School Visit Page for teachers and librarians as well as children's book authors and illustrators.
What I learned and what I'd do differently next time:
- It's sooooooo much more fun than I expected!
- I strongly recommend doing a Skype test call in advance of each Skype visit as well as just before the visit itself. I found this a great way of identifying potential problems and fixing them.
- Make sure you leave time for a Q&A, and coordinate with the teacher ahead of time so that he/she is able to have students prepare questions in advance.
- Figure out how to make my own screen bigger so I can see what the kids are seeing. Try to place this screen behind the webcam so I'm looking at the camera, not away.
- If I do painting, I will NOT set the paint cups on my desk where it's way too easy for me to knock them over in the middle of the Skype session (fortunately I didn't have much liquid in each)!
- Figure out how to mute the audio on my computer so I just hear it on my headphones. I found the echo a bit confusing, and was also worried about the echo leaking through into my microphone.
Some useful resources:
Please do check out the resource list I've compiled for teachers/librarians and authors/illustrators to my Skype page; I'll be gradually updating it.
Interested in having me do a Skypevisit with your school or library? Please see the info on DebbieOhi.com/skype. Hope to visit with you soon!
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As an author, I love that moment when I hit the “answer video call” button on my computer, and the smiling, wide-eyed faces of readers in Alabama or California or Montana pop onto my screen. Skyping with readers is a remarkably rewarding experience. I am, after all, Skyping right at my desk, and that means the readers get a personal peek into my writing world. I can grab my latest draft and hold it up to the camera to point out a specific line, or let the audience see the messiness of my writer’s notebook, or grab my guitar and sing a song that I’ve just written.
Nothing beats a “live” visit, but Skyping with an author is a great alternative for two reasons: it’s cheaper and it provides an opportunity that is often intimate. Surprise guests, such as the author’s dog, or cat, or spouse can make a cameo appearances; authors can pick up their laptops and show a quick glimpse of their desk, the rocking chair, or the favorite place to write.
If you’ve never tried an author Skype, the first thing you have to do is find your author. Many authors offer fee-based workshops or presentations as well as shorter Q-and-A sessions for a lower cost (or even free). If you have an author in mind, check the author’s website. Otherwise, there are sites that collect the names and contact info of authors who Skype, such as the Skype-an-Author Network.
Regardless of how you find your author, there are some tips and tricks that can help make the entire experience run smoothly and enjoyably. From the author’s point of view, here’s what you can do to be a great Skype partner. (You can also download an easy-to-use version of the checklist here.)
BEFORE THE SKYPE
Questions that work best for Skype visits are specific questions related to one or more of the author’s books that do not require long, complex answers.
Examples of good questions: How long did it take you to write Invisible Lines? Why did you choose mushrooms as a recurring theme? How did you come up with the names of your main characters? If readers want to ask about the general writing process, please help them to be specific: Do you use outlines? Do you ever write with pen and paper? Do you ever ask anyone else to read your work before it is published?
Examples of difficult, hard-to-answer questions: How do you write books? Can you talk about the writing process? These are big topics that take a long time to answer.
Allowing individuals to step up to the computer’s camera and talk directly into the lens makes the experience much more fun for the author as well as the child or teen. Use this opportunity to practice public-speaking skills with participants. Focus on projecting the voice, slowing down, and speaking clearly.
DURING THE SKYPE
AFTER THE SKYPE
Many readers mistakenly believe that all authors are rich and that every book they write gets published. This is far from true. Most authors don’t make a living wage from book sales. Many authors pay the rent by teaching writing workshops and giving presentations.
Finally, if there is something the author could do to improve the experience, definitely send that feedback. Writing is, for the most part, an exercise in isolation; authors take great joy in connecting with readers and want the experience to be the best it can be.
Our guest blogger today is Mary Amato, an author of fiction for children and teens. She also enjoys teaching workshops in creative writing and songwriting. Her latest series for ages 7-10 is Good Crooks. Her latest YA is Get Happy and features original songs. You can find out more about her at www.maryamato.com or www.thrumsociety.com
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at email@example.com.
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Increasing numbers of people are forced to live their lives away from the ones they love, be they partners, parents, or friends. Having been a member of a long-distance relationship, I can attest to the strain that separation places on a relationship. Over the last few decades communication technologies have been increasingly marketed as solutions to the problem of strain, separation, and isolation. But how far do they go in actually addressing these issues?
As digital technologies have become ever engrained in our daily lives, a vast array of communication devices have been developed to help support our interpersonal relationships. Skype makes seeing distant loved ones easier; Snapchat allows us to send them inconsequential thoughts as they pop into our heads; and email allows us to send a letter anywhere in the world without even having to buy a stamp. The research community is continually investigating new designs, be they based on kissing or other less creepy ideas like exchanging love notes.
This interest results in a huge number of different device designs, few of which are ever evaluated. What is it we should be trying to support to help distant relationships?
The psychological literature has a large number of concepts that could be used as a lens for examining interpersonal relationships and communication, such as Social presence and Closeness. Social presence can be thought of as the sense of emotional connectedness experienced through a single act of communication. Closeness is a longer-term feeling of connectedness that is also related to the amount of contact people experience. Closeness, arguably, is essential for relationships to survive. If we could establish a link between these two concepts, evaluations of communication technologies can focus purely on the experience of using the technology, confident in the knowledge that this will have a meaningful impact on the relationships’ feeling of Closeness. We thus designed a study that focussed on attempting to establish whether there is a link between Closeness and Social presence.
In order to answer this question we recruited 63 students to track their communication use over time. Each day they would record how close they felt towards a specified individual (either a partner, friend, sibling, or parent) who either lived in the same city or at a distance. Additionally, participants tracked their communication use and recorded a Social presence score for each act of communication. In total we collected 956 contact reports and 1281 daily Closeness ratings over a three-week period.
In analysing this data we could unpick some fascinating aspects as to how interpersonal relationships can be supported. Our data indicates the type of communication technology and the relationship type and distance can predict the Social presence ratings. All of the communication media our participants reported on were rated with much lower levels of Social presence compared to face to face conversations. This highlights the fundamental weakness communication technologies have – they simply aren’t the same as seeing someone.
However, establishing a relationship between Social presence and Closeness is useful because we can demonstrate that creating communication technologies that encourage emotionally significant experiences can support relationships in a more meaningful, long-term fashion as those technologies are likely to strengthen feelings of Closeness with absent others. Thus while absence may not make the heart grow stronger, communication technologies can be used to make sure that out of sight definitely doesn’t mean out of mind.
In THE MONSTORE, Zack just wants to buy a monster to spook his pesky little sister, Gracie. (As you may know, things don’t work to plan.)
But when I do school visits, I’ve found that kids have all kinds of things they’d like a monster to do for them.
And even more outrageously clever tasks.
So here’s your child’s chance! What would THEIR monster do? What would it look like?
Print out this MONSTORE coloring page (courtesy of illustrator Wendy Martin) and then email me a pic of your child’s monsterly creation by October 7th. (My email button is in the top left column of this blog.)
I’ll pick 5 finalists and post them here, then you’ll have a week to vote for the winner.
(Click on the image for larger version, mouse over for a + magnifying glass, click, then you can then print 8 1/2 x 11. Or, click here for a PDF: Monstore Draw Your Own Monster.)
The winner will earn their class a signed book and a SKYPE VISIT from me on HALLOWEEN! (And if the child is homeschooled, I’ll Skype with them at home or anywhere they choose.)
The contest is open to kids through age 12. Whole classes can enter. If I had a lawyer, you might expect a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo to appear here. But I don’t. So there isn’t. (PHEW!)
Any questions? Ask away below.
Happy creating and I’ll hope to SEE YOU on HALLOWEEN!
Wow, I was blown away by the creativity of the kids who entered my Halloween Skype monster contest! I asked them to draw the monster they’d like to purchase at The Monstore, and they came through with some very useful companions, just right for doing tricky things around the house. In fact, I’d like to borrow all of them!
It was tough to pick just five finalists, but here they are, in no particular order.
Please leave a comment voting for your favorite entry #. The monster with the most votes will win a Skype classroom visit with me on Halloween!
REPRESENTING MS. ROSENBERG’S 2nd GRADE CLASS
MS. GO EYES by JULIA B.!
I like how Ms. Go Eyes can dance with Julia whenever she pleases, plus this monster can reach high to get the most coveted snacks in the cabinet. Of course, Ms. Go Eyes loves THE MONSTORE book, too! Congratulations, Julia!
REPRESENTING MS. MELLIN’S 2nd GRADE CLASS
TRASH MONSTER by SIERRA V.!
Well, Trash Monster can certainly find a welcomed place in my home. I like how neat and environmentally conscientious he is. And he’s so brightly colored, he’ll fit right in with my decor. Congratulations, Sierra!
REPRESENTING MS. MACCRI’S 2nd GRADE CLASS
BULLEYE by NATHAN H.!
Considering that October is National Bullying Prevention Month, I think everyone could use a friend like Bulleye right now. He’s so fierce-looking, he just has to stand there and bullies will steer clear. Congratulations, Nathan!
REPRESENTING MS. ABATE’S 1st GRADE CLASS
SPARKLES by KATIE F.!
As Sparkles is already aware, we could all use a little more sparkle in our lives. Everything she touches glitters and shines. What a happy-making monster! Congratulations, Katie!
REPRESENTING MS. BROWN’S 1st GRADE CLASS
DAGA BY DOANH!
Ms. Brown’s class got very creative and used shapes to create their monsters. They even counted up all the shapes. I’m impressed! This monster’s needed in my house because my daughter does not like to eat meat. It merely touches her tongue and she spits it out. What’s a mom to do? Maybe she will follow Daga’s example. Congratulations, Doanh! (And wow, what neat handwriting!)
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Skype monster contest. It was so difficult to choose the finalists because all the creations were terrific. I’m sincerely blown away by the creativity expressed in this exercise!
Kindly comment below with your # monster choice by SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27th and I will announce the winner on the 28th!
GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE! I HOPE TO SEE YOU ON HALLOWEEN!
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!
I have a present for you!
It's not green. And it's not Irish. But it's still a great present :)
Remember on Friday I promised a guest post on a very interesting topic?
Allow me to introduce the multi-talented and delightful Iza Trapani!
|Author/Illustrator Iza Trapani|
|With students at Gwin Oaks Elementary in Gwinnett, GA|
|More Gwin Oaks students. Thank you, Ms. Amolo!|
|A teacher at Fort Worth Academy showed me her dog, Plato, posing like the cover of How to Steal a Dog. Go, Plato!|
Hello all! It's another dreary day here in the Sunshine State. I like to tell people we have only two seasons: hot, and hot and rainy. Do not visit THE MOUSE in summer! You'll likely be drenched to the bone, then frozen by the AC. (That's when they swap you out for an aminatron, ala Stepford Wives). And when it's not raining, the heat and the humidity will press you right down to a smear on the concrete, which The Mouse's minions will wipe up and dispose of before anyone notices you're missing.
Now to the subject at hand: My website is down. This is a problem for me because I wanted to update my school visit schedule. Because I don't know how soon the site will be back up, I wanted to let you know I have begun to book visits for next school year. Twenty-minute Skype visits are free to groups who've read my work. If you'd like me to visit in person, I have a variety of presentations and I also provide writing workshops for students who want to polish or publish their work.
If you're interested in having me visit, send me a message! My email address is dhaworthbooks at yahoo dot com.
There's a 15 minute chat with me up for grabs! Click here for deets! :)
Last time, I talked to Team Canterwood member Lauren for half an hour because we were having so much fun. I'd LOVE to talk to another TC member!
Tonight I am Skyping with the International School in Bangkok, Thailand.
Isn't it amazing to be talking to students in another part of the world while sitting at home in my jammies? (Okay, I might not have my jammies on.)
Here is the librarian's blog.
And this is what the teacher wrote to me:
Here is some background info about our class and our reading of Greetings From Nowhere:
Our class of 21 fifth graders represents 8 nationalities. Eight children are new to our school this year in Bangkok. I chose to read Greetings From Nowhere aloud to the class as it is such a great lead-in to our reading unit on "Characters", where we ask the question, "How can the people in stories be like me?"
We are discovering that characters, like real people, are complex and can change. As readers, we are talking about how we develop empathy for and connections to the characters in the story.
The class LOVED the story, start to finish, and they were quite disappointed to find out that it was NOT part of a series! I am continually amazed at how my groups of internationally diverse students relate to the small world of the Sleepy Time Motel.
I think they have discovered big life lessons in that small world. One boy said last week, "I can make a connection with Aggie, because I know that it is painful to leave a home that is familiar."
I love that!!
Do you want TV, er, fries with that? (McDonald’s is launching an in-store channel that will feature local news, movie trailers, music news, personal interest stories, and more. With families congregating around TVs even at dinner time, we... Read the rest of this postAdd a Comment
One day this week, I was visiting a school on the opposite coast. (They are on the West Coast. I am on the East Coast.)
Then I was at a school here in New England that made me feel so welcome. They posted this sign on every door and up and down the halls.
If you open up most calendars, you’re not likely to find April 1st listed as an official holiday, but that doesn’t stop most of the western world from celebrating it in one way or another. Though the true origins of the day remain... Read the rest of this postAdd a Comment
We shouldn’t be surprised that 37% of teens video chat (with friends and family using Skype, iChat, and Googletalk, according to a new study. It seems like a lot of kids using the Jetson-age technology, but it makes sense with the ubiquity of... Read the rest of this postAdd a Comment
Welcome to the Authors Who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs List! I’m Kate Messner, the children’s author and educator who maintains this site. I started it because I’ve found that virtual author visits are a great way to connect authors and readers, and I realize that many schools facing budget troubles don’t have the option of paid author visits. With that in mind, this is a list of authors who offer free 15-20-minute Q and A sessions with classes and book clubs that have finished reading one of their books. As an author, I offer free Skype chats for the following titles:
(Please check book release dates! Upcoming titles are also listed; Skype visits available upon book’s release!)
If you’re interested in booking a “virtual visit” with me, please visit my website or drop me an email (kmessner at katemessner dot com).
How does a Skype virtual visit work? Click here to read a blog entry about my students’ virtual visit with the fantastic Laurie Halse Anderson. It includes an overview of how a Skype chat with an author might work, as well as tips for teachers, librarians, & book club organizers to help your virtual visit run smoothly. You can click here to read my first School Library Journal technology feature on Skype author visits, called “Met Any Good Authors Lately? Classroom Visits Can Happen Via Skype” and this follow-up SLJ feature, “An Author in Every Classroom: Kids Connecting with Authors via Skype. It’s the next best thing to being there.” There’s also an ever-growing list of authors who offer both free and paid Skype visits at the Skype An Author Network.
Important note for teachers & librarians: Please check with the author via email to be sure he or she still offers free Skype chats before you purchase books or make plans. (Some authors offer only a limited number of free Skype visits, and some who start out offering free visits begin to charge later on. I don’t always get those updates right away.) And authors…if you’re on this list but no longer offer free Skype visits, please let me know.
Authors Who Skype With Classes & Book Clubs (for free!)
The following authors offer free 15-20-minute Skype chats with book clubs and classes that have read one of their books! (Many also offer more in-depth virtual visits for a fee.) To arrange a virtual visit, check out the authors’ websites for book choices and contact information. Then ask for their books at your favorite bookstore or visit IndieBound to find a store near you!
For Middle Grade Book Clubs (Ages 8-12)
Laura SchaeferLisa SchroederAdam SelzerLaurel SnyderMargo SorensonTricia SpringtubbAnna StaniszewskiCatherine StineMelissa ThomsonJennifer TraftonAnne UrsuGreg van EekhoutCynthia WillisBarry WolvertonTracie Vaughn Zimmer
For Teen Book Clubs
(Also check out the list of adult authors below; many also work with teens.)
Christa AllanCharlene Ann BaumbichSandra GullandCarla GunnSue HarrisonSarah MacleanMaryann McFaddenKitty MorseOlugbemisola Rhuday-PerkovichKelly SimmonsGarth SteinGwendolyn Zepeda
For Adult Book Clubs
(Also check out the authors listed above; middle grade & teen novels can be great book club selections!)
Picture Book Clubs for Younger Readers (4-8)Marsha Diane ArnoldMike ArtellLouise BordenLarry Dane BrimnerSusan Taylor BrownLeslie BulionKatie DavisElizabeth DulembaKathy DuvalSonia Clark FosterLaurie JacobsJane KohuthJane KurtzKara LareauDeb LundJoAnn Early MackenWendy MartinKate MessnerJamie MichalakWendy OrrErica PerlJean ReidyBarb RosenstockMichael ShouldersMargo SorensonJennifer WardNatasha Wing
If you’re an author of a traditionally published book who would like to be added, please email me (kmessner at katemessner dot com). If you’re a publicist and would like to send a list of all your authors who Skype with book clubs, that’s fabulous, too. Again…this is a list of authors who offer FREE 20-minute Skype chats with classrooms & book clubs that have read one of their books.
If you’re a bookseller or book club member, teacher, or librarian, thanks for stopping by – and feel free to comment with any questions!
To celebrate the release of my debut picture book THE MONSTORE on June 4th, I am offering free Skype visits with your class the week of June 10th. (Yes, I know school will be out for a lot of you, but I live in Jersey, where school drags on into summer.)
For the Skype visit I will:
Skype visits will take place from June 10th to June 14th and last 30 minutes.
Whoops, and I will not saw a lady in half. Sorry ’bout that one. I got carried away.
To set up the Skype visit, please email me at tarawrites (at) yahoo (dot) com with “Free Skype Visit” in the subject line. Please include the following details:
I will try my best to schedule everyone who requests a Skype visit, but please note if I cannot, you will be selected on a first come/first served basis. Also, for reading purposes it’s best if you have a copy of THE MONSTORE in your classroom, but it is not a requirement.
Let the Skyping begin!
New York-based production studio Blacklist has partnered with Rdio, Skype’s new music streaming service in a year-long campaign called New Music Weekly. Each Tuesday, the site will release a specially commissioned 15-second clip that brings together new music and original animation from emerging visual artists, designers and animators. At its best, particularly with the traditional work, the combination is refreshingly compelling, albiet annoyingly brief.
The first installment of the project, Gauntlet Hair’s track Human Nature visualized by UK design studio, ilovedust debuted at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival. This was followed by pieces for Gogol Bordello (Lost Innocent World) and Michael Franti (I Don’t Wanna Go), designed by Blacklist directors, Holbrooks and Tendril, respectively.
While Rdio is responsible for the music selections, Blacklist is allowed input to ensure “a great audio visual sync,” says Adina Sales, Blacklist’s managing director, in an article on Creative Review. “The process has been very free and exciting, [and has allowed] directors and animators the chance to work largely unencumbered. They produce work that is indicative not only of their style but of their unique point of view.”
Other participating artists include the Paris-based design house Wizz and an upcoming contribution by Swedish production collective Upper First. The spots will appear on Rdio’s YouTube channel, digital banners and at music festivals.Add a Comment