Connecting Students and Authors: Featuring Tom Angleberger

Tom Angleberger and Rachel (photo provided by Rachel)

Tom Angleberger and Rachel (photo provided by Rachel)

My favorite books growing up were the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I loved picturing life as Laura, living during the 1800’s, “roughing it”. I envisioned what it would be like to meet her and ask her what she thinks of the modern inventions like cars, computers, and butter you don’t have to churn yourself. I remember even doing a project for school in which I had to perform a skit where I had to pretend I was interviewing the author. For my students today, though, interviewing an author is not just a hypothetical. Connecting students with their favorite author is only one or two clicks away.

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.

Tom Angleberger and Rachel (photo provided by Rachel)

Tom Angleburger and Rachel (photo provided by Rachel)

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 Quesada

Lisa Quesada

Lisa is the Reading Specialist at a middle school in Tinley Park, Illinois. She has been teaching for over twenty years and earned both a Masters in Reading Specialist and a Masters in Educational Leadership. Books, music, movies, and education are her life!

4 Responses to Connecting Students and Authors: Featuring Tom Angleberger
  1. Robby Reply

    I can never make any book signings by Tom. However, I did get an autograph from him in the mail.

  2. Rachel Reply

    The website is now Origamiyoda.com
    he has a new website.

    Thank You

  3. Rachel Reply

    its nice to hear from u Mrs.Wortel i miss you and everyone in CMS.

  4. Wendy Reply

    Love it Lisa! Rachel gave me and my dad, who is a Yoda fan, each one of those origami Yodas. I have it hanging in my Jeep to remind me of her and it always makes me smile! My dad has his in a special place too!

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