This site effectively uses technology to provide teachers with a tool to continue the practice of author visits as a literacy activity. It is an effective resource for all schools, especially those that may not have financial resources to offer in person author visits.
Type of Material:
This is a social networking tool for connecting teachers with the author, Kate Messner, that can also bring literacy back into the classroom by using SKYPE technology.
The site could be used in a classroom setting to accompany the reading of the books listed on the site. It would be appropriate in language arts methods classes, libraries, book clubs and community groups.
A Skype account is needed for author discussions. Adobe Acrobat reader is needed to open the resources for books. Membership in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is needed to access the discussion boards listed under the Writers tab.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The purpose of the site is for book discussion to enhance reading comprehension. Discussions with book authors may encourage readers to become writers.
Learning goals are not explicitly stated but it becomes evident that the purposes and objectives of the site are met after reading responses in the blog and feedback sections. This site is up to date and continues to include additional resources.
Target Student Population:
Elementary, middle school, high school students in English classes may benefit from the site. Undergraduate students especially those enrolled in children's literature classes for teacher education programs could also use the site as resource. School and Public librarians can also use the site for book discussions with the featured books. There are resources for educators and writers as well.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
A Skype account must be created. The author chat is free for 20 minutes but the fee is charged for a longer discussion. Course teachers and book club leaders must schedule an appointment to Skype with the authors. The site advises to contact the site before ordering books to inquire if an author is still available to chat and if a fee with be charged. Adobe Acrobat reader is needed to read the resources which accompany the books.
It is advised that students and groups read the book before the virtual author visit.
Includes tips for writers and personal advice from the author,
The content of workshops and professional development is clearly described,
Contains recommendations of other authors, provides materials to engage readers and is current and relevant.
The Study Guides under the Resources to download were not active and could not be downloaded.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Students have the opportunity to interact by using the Q&A with Kate or Write a Note to Kate.
An author visit is a great follow up to any book study that is planned.
This material allows a personal connection to real life author to be made.
The blog feature enables this resource to be integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy of the discipline.
The site contains videos for how other teachers have used the books.
Linked to Facebook and Twitter for sharing by social media.
Having stated learning goals about the purposes of author visits or virtual author visits would be helpful for new teachers or teachers who have not previously used an author visit in their classroom.
The blog feature could be better utilized to share assignments for using the material.
Books do not have the same number of resources--some have extensive resources including quizzes study guides and videos while others have no resources to accompanying them. The cost for longer in-depth discussion may be prohibitive to some classes.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Easy to use with consistent layout,
Both email contact and feedback on the blog is available,
Students do not need technical support or instruction when using this site,
The site's coordinator can be contacted directly for assistance.
The site is easy to use but there is a limited number of books offered.
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