As I write this blog post, I am watching a 6th grade class Skype with the author of a book that they have recently read. This has to be one of the most powerful experiences for students in terms of giving them insight into the writing process and also instilling in them a love for reading. They are talking to the brains behind the story that they all enjoyed reading who is now telling them how the characters came to life in his own mind.
This is not just a lecture on reading and writing, which students get in school all the time.
What is so cool about a Skype session with an author is that it is real. Students (and teachers alike) look at authors of books as mythical creatures, beings who are name on the front of a book and are never seen. Right now, the students are talking to this mythical being.
Just now, he showed them his system for writing which is a cork board that covers his entire wall with all of the characters for his current book. Below the characters are all of the different things the characters are doing in the story. He also showed the students his current manuscript with all of the handwritten edits that he does on one page. The page is totally trashed with grammar marks, an eye opener for students who think the teacher is just out to get them.
Students no longer have to read about the author on the dust cover of the book. With a little planning and a teacher who is daring to take a risk, students can meet the author.