Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Connecting with Authors Online

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Connecting with Authors Online

Article excerpt

The Internet can allow teachers and their classes to interact with some of their favorite authors

Many of my favorite experiences as an educator involve sharing books with students: reading to classes, working with groups in libraries, bringing classes to book fairs, and recommending books to individuals. But nothing in that realm compared with those occasions when real-live authors visited classrooms, or appeared at special school events. Giving students opportunities to connect directly with writers was always beneficial, often inspirational, and usually forged unique links with books and writing.

I will always value having heard Truman Capote, Jean Craighead George, Studs Terkel, Alvin Toffler and others talk about their books, and treasure the meals I shared with authors such as the science writers Vincent Marteka and Seymour Simon. Similarly, I will never forget how thrilling it was when a writer stayed at my home and read selections from his next book for my "reader's opinion." In the same way, I loved taking field trips to the homes of authors--such as Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe--to see how each lived and wish that being in those environments might inspire my own writing.

ONLINE ACCESS

The Internet and Web now make direct contacts with authors and their work available to students and educators everywhere. These range from complete online books to excerpts from soon-to-be-published works, with biographies, interviews, guides, book reviews, publishing calendars, story-mapping ideas, book awards and learning activities. For example, Seymour Simon now has his own site, www.seymoursimon.com, as does Judy Blume, www.judyblume.com, and Eric Carle, www.eric-carle.com. Many authors also offer opportunities for contact through mail and e-mail, and some are willing to work with classes and even arrange school visits. In this regard, I recently enjoyed exchanging online messages with Scott Adams, the artist and writer behind the Dilbert comic strip and books.

THE NORTH STAR CURRICULUM

One outstanding example of how communicating with an author through the Internet can transform the curriculum, took place at the Hoxie School in Bourne, Mass. Inspired by the children's book The North Star, third grade teacher Sue Pandiani and her students contacted the author and artist Peter Reynolds, www. …

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