The Power of Virtual Author Visits
Meeting the author of a beloved book can be a game-changer for students, igniting their passion for reading and fostering a deeper connection with the material. Fortunately, in today’s digital age, many children’s authors are making it easier than ever to bring their insights and stories directly into your classroom through virtual visits. In this article, we will explore the benefits of virtual author visits and provide a comprehensive guide on how to organize a successful session.
In recent years, the world has witnessed a surge in the availability of virtual author visits. Thanks to internet calling services like Skype and the reach of social media platforms, authors are now offering free, short, and engaging 10-15 minute sessions. This presents a unique opportunity for educators to enhance the learning experience for their students.
Finding the Right Author
While you can reach out to your favorite authors directly to inquire about virtual visits, a convenient option is to explore curated lists available online. The School Library Journal website, for instance, offers a comprehensive list of authors currently offering free virtual classroom visits 1. This resource not only provides a list of available authors but also offers valuable tips to prepare for a successful virtual meeting.
Preparation for a Virtual Author Visit Is Key
To ensure a successful virtual author visit, it’s essential to prepare in advance. Here are some key steps:
- Read or Listen to the Book: Before the virtual meeting, encourage your students to read or listen to the author’s book. This will allow them to form questions and insights about the material.
- Brainstorm Questions: Engage your students in brainstorming sessions to compile a list of thoughtful questions they’d like to ask the author. This process encourages critical thinking and ensures an engaging interaction.
- Set Up a Question Area: Arrange an area in front of your computer camera where students can come up to ask their questions during the virtual visit. This will create a sense of anticipation and involvement among the students.
- Organizational Tips: The more organized you and your students are during the brief interview session, the smoother and more worthwhile the author visit will be. Assign roles to students for introducing the author, moderating the session, and managing the technology.
- Technology Check: Contact your district’s Technology Coordinator well in advance of the meeting to ensure that your video conferencing platform, like Skype, is not blocked and will work seamlessly. Test the technology and internet connection to prevent any last-minute hiccups.
- Have Books Ready: Ask your students to bring their copies of the author’s book with them “just in case” the technology has some glitches, and they have to wait a bit for the call to take place. This ensures they have a connection to the author’s work during any delays.
Building Excitement for the Visit
A virtual author visit is a tremendous opportunity to foster a love of reading and literature among your students. By encouraging them to engage with the author’s work, brainstorm questions, and actively participate during the session, you’re creating an environment that builds interest and excitement. The power of connecting with the authors your students love cannot be overstated.
Virtual Author visits are a powerful tool for educators to enrich the learning experience. By following the steps outlined in this article and leveraging the resources available, you can bring the magic of storytelling and authorship directly to your classroom, sparking curiosity, imagination, and a lifelong love of reading in your students.
If you have had positive experiences with inviting authors into your classroom or have suggestions on authors that other teachers may be interested in contacting, please leave your feedback and/or suggestions in the comments below.
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