While questioning the author is a widely accepted strategy for improving comprehension as made popular by the work of Isabel Beck and Margaret McKeown (Read Link Here), using technology to make an authentic connection is a relatively new concept. Michael H. Creswell, an associate professor of history and director of graduate studies at the Florida State University, uses Skype to connect his college students with authors. Not only does this improve student motivation, but it deepens their understanding of the reading/writing process. In his article entitled “Using Skype in the Classroom to Connect Students with Authors”, Creswell claims, “…students have an opportunity to ask an author about specific choices he or she made in writing the book, which can help them in their own research.” (http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2011/1104/1104tec2.cfm)
One of my most memorable students this past year was an avid Star Wars fan. She would stop and bow to me in the halls and say, “May the force be with you, Mrs. Sikorski.” She loved to read which made her a student after my own heart. In her literary adventures she became hooked on Tom Angleberger books including The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back. Not one to let ideas just sit in her head, Rachel reached out to Tom through his blog. She even created 1000 origami Yodas, took a picture, and posted on his blog which gained his attention as well. I call Mr. Angleberger Tom because that is how Rachel referred to him. She felt like she knew him because of the connection on the blog. The admiration was mutual because Tom invited Rachel to his book signing recently in Downers Grove where she was treated as a VIP.
Connecting with the author also proved to have more far reaching consequences as well. Because of her activity on the blog, Rachel has connected with other fans like herself. With her mother’s permission of course, Rachel participated in a webvideo created by a fellow fan: someone she never would have met under normal circumstances.
With the growing number of people using and often abusing social media, social media has gained national attention. But before you dismiss it completely, ask yourself when you were in junior high, how many authors did you refer to by first name?
(You can connect with Tom here: http://origamiyoda.wordpress.com/)
Lisa is the Reading Specialist at a middle school in Tinley Park, Illinois. She has been teaching for eighteen years and earned both a Masters in Reading Specialist and a Masters in Educational Leadership. Books, music, movies, and education are her life!