Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Picture Worth 3000 Words, ++ plus Free Skype Visits

Tuesday morning I did my first classroom Skype visit with a freshman class in high school.  It actually had nothing to do with promoting my books, it was simply a discussion about writing, and it was so much fun.  The kids had great questions, prepared in advance, and came up with several off-the-cuff as well. They were very attentive and polite and seeing them together in a classroom just warmed my little YA-writer heart.

Right now the students are working on a project to write picture books for a group of preschool children in the "Head Start" program.  In their teacher's words it was planned as way to " solve one of our literacy problems, which is apathy regarding leisure reading".  The question the students will try to answer is:  "How can we, as experts of what motivates students, write a picture book that will engage a Head Start child and help him or her begin a love of reading?"

Isn't that an admirable and inspiring lesson plan? I'm smitten by it! 

First, the class is doing research to prepare to write their books. This research involves not only interviewing professionals but also consulting with the adorable preschoolers they're writing them  for.  Here is a picture their teacher shared of one of those consultations:

 Apparently that cinnamon roll survived the encounter.
The little guy was  too busy being consulted to eat. :D
(I could look at this photo all day.)

When they're ready, the class will write, revise and illustrate books in pairs and then present finished, bound books to the preschoolers, for their classroom!

For obvious reasons this Skype visit inspired me, and even more, it fired me up!  I immediately wanted to sit down and write for them.  For the owners of the faces I saw in that classroom, who I know have big, complicated lives outside of it. 

So, for not completely altruistic reasons after this experience, I'd love to offer one Skype visit a week (free) to interested classrooms on Mondays between 10:30 and 3:00 EST, for up to an an hour--on a first come, first served basis. I don't expect anyone to buy, read, or promote my books and I'm willing to answer questions about any writing-related topic. My publications so far include poetry, a picture book, and a YA novel, so I can fit fairly comfortably into a variety of lesson plans.

If this is something you, or a teacher you know, would be interested in trying, please contact me at: alinabklein(at)gmail(dot)com.

Huge thanks go out to this lovely class for letting me be involved with your project, and for introducing me to the joys of Skype. I hope you'll share pictures of the books you've created when they're finished!

(And if you like the idea of a free Skype visit with a writer, do NOT miss amazing author, Laurel Snyder's offer to do the same. Go there, now and sign up! I imagine her list will fill up quickly.)

Happy Holidays!


  1. What a cool program ~ the uneaten cinnamon bun is a testament to its effectiveness too! ;) Glad your first visit went well, the first of many I'm sure!

  2. If so, it will be in no small part thanks to you, Jess! <3

  3. Great story! I remember as a high schooler going to a Kindergarten class with the purpose of creating a short story for Halloween starring some of the class members. We interviewed them a bit, then wrote our stories. A few days later we returned to read our work to the class. They thought stories with them as characters were fantastic and it was a great experience for us budding writers as well.

  4. I need to remember that Twitter gives me the hot-off-the-presses news, but your blog will fill in all the juicy details. ;)

    I love the whole idea of the project! What an incredible way to connect teens and younger kids to each other and to literacy! I'm so glad it was a huge success both for the freshmen, and for you. Have fun with future Skype visits...I hope you get lots of takers!

  5. Alan, that sounds like a great experience for everyone involved! Thanks so much for sharing and for paying me a visit out here. :)

    Teresa, thanks! My blog needs to do a whole lot more juicy-details-ish stuff! I'm so grateful for your support as always. <3


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