Sunday, October 12, 2008

Virtual Author Series: Great Fun

When I was in fifth grade, a famous author came to our school and read us one of her stories. Even as a child, I knew it was going to go down as a memorable moment. Last Tuesday, the latest MYVisit Virtual Author Series gave my sixth graders the opportunity to watch a LIVE stream of a fantastic children's book creation team, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin. This Author and Illustrator of the children's book Click, Clack Moo, spoke to a group of second graders -- but thanks to modern technology, (Apple, Simon & Schuster, The Booksource, and Ball State University), we felt like we were part of the action. Just before 9 AM Pacific, I visited the website, tested the stream, and within minutes, my sixth grade classroom was transformed into an extended virtual classroom. I think part of the reason this event held my students' attention for the entire hour was because they knew they weren't watching some prerecorded video; it was a LIVE event, happening across the U.S., right before their eyes.

Author Doreen Cronin gave some great advice for approaching writing. Among her numerous tips, Doreen indicated that a white sheet of paper can be intimidating, even for an accomplished writer as herself. She always hears a small voice in her head that tells her she's not a writer and can't do it. When she hears this discouraging voice, she draws a tiny box on the bottom of the page and puts a mark in it, then closes the box. From that point on, anytime she feels like she can't do it, she reminds herself that those negative thoughts are locked in the box and can't effect her anymore.

During the 55 minute event, I passed a laptop around the room and students posed questions and comments on the forum for the ladies to answer at a later date. Here are a few responses from my students:

* I really like this whole book talk. I think it is very educational for kids and grown ups who like to write stories. -Crystal
* Hey Doreen, how do your book ideas come to you? Does it just pop in your head or do you see something that gives you an idea? I am curious. -Nathan
* Hey, I really like your books. I also have a question... Betsy how long you were drawing? -Brianna
* Doreen...What voice in side of you said that book writing is going to be your bread and butter? -Omar

One way I think the experience could be improved is if there was an event moderator who took questions from some of us in the virtual community rather than to limit questions to the LIVE audience. Overall, the event was well worth our time and I'm looking forward to the next round of authors.

Learn more about MYVisit virtual author series and follow links to Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin's official websites!

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