I’ve enjoyed several wonderful skype visits with Carla, so I asked her to share some tips on how she makes it so successful. I hope teachers and librarians will find this helpful
Skyping with an author is a great way to get your students excited about reading and writing!
- Research author websites to find out about their willingness to Skype. Check out Kate Messner’s great web page that has a list of authors who Skype for free: http://www.katemessner.com/authors-who-skype-with-classes-book-clubs-for-free/
- Contact your author and find out what times might work for them. (If they’re not available this year, ask to be put on the list for next year!)
- Determine which grade level is the best fit for your author and time slot.
- Check with your principal as needed for final approval.
- Let your teachers know about the Skype visit with plenty of lead time.
- Consider doing a book order for your students. Some authors have a relationship with a local bookstore and will work with them to sign books for your students, so check with your author first. If not, contact your local bookstore and ask about any discounts they might offer for a group order. Some authors may be willing to sign book plates (Yay Rob Buyea!!) so ask! It’s extra-special for students to have a book personalized by an author that they admire. **If working with a bookstore in another state, check to be sure that they will accept checks from parents as payment for the books. If they need payment through your District office, be sure you check with them to see what they need from the bookstore before proceeding (tax ID number, etc.). Some out-of-state bookstores may only accept credit card payment and that can be tricky.
- Distribute your book order form. Decide if your students would do better taking the order form home the day of the Skype visit (when they’re really excited about just talking with the author) OR if advance notice is better. Your call.
- The week before the author visit, confirm their Skype name with the author, and also check to see if you should initiate the Skype call or if the author will call you. Make sure your computer is set up with an updated version of Skype, and check both your audio and video settings.
- The week before the visit, e-mail your teachers and ask them to brainstorm with their students and come up with questions for students to ask the author. Challenge them to think beyond “what’s your favorite book you’ve written.” Have teachers choose designated students to ask questions, and have them write their questions out ahead of time.
- Consider asking teachers to have some students create “Welcome _______” posters to hold up during the Skype. Always festive and appreciated.
- The day of the Skype – remind teachers to come a few minutes early to get settled. Have the students asking questions sitting near the computer.
- ENJOY the Skype! Be sure to introduce yourself and your students, and have them say a big thank you when your time is up. Respect the time limits of both the author and your teachers. Take lots of pictures to post on Facebook and Twitter. (Check that you have the author’s Twitter handle when you post!)
- After the visit, ask teachers to have their students write thank you notes to the author. Check with the author to see where they would like them sent.
- Book order tip – be sure to include a line on the order form where students can indicate how they would like the book signed. Also, do a quick list of who ordered books and keep that on hand (just in a case a student thinks they ordered a book after the fact).
Your students will always remember this opportunity. Good luck! 🙂