Posted by: Heather Durnin | June 9, 2010

“Real-life” Literacy with an Author Visit via Skype: Gr. 7/8 Students’ Reflections

Our classroom was buzzing today as my students waited for the 9:30 Skype call from author, Natasha Friend.  They were organized and raring to go.  What’s most amazing is the fact that one of my grade 7 students contacted the author of young adult novels, on her own, to tell her how much she enjoyed the book, Lush. Natasha Friend graciously offered to Skype with our class. After refining interview questions into categories to ensure they didn’t repeat themselves, students voluntarily signed up for “Skype roles” as inspired by @langwitches.  A few students greeted Natasha, shared some brief information about our class, and then each student presented their questions.  While this was happening, other students blogged and backchanneled during the call.  At the end of the call, we added the location to our class Skype Google Map.  The kids were thrilled, inspired and it took only a suggestion from me for them to instantly want to blog about their experience.  Hear their voice

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Today, Natasha Friend, author of the famous books Perfect, Lush, and Bounce, and also the book For Keeps Skyped with our class. How did this all come about you may ask? Well a student in our class e-mailed Natasha via her Facebook site and Natasha was kind enough to e-mail back and offer to have a skype session with our class. The day before the call, our class brainstormed several awesome questions that we asked one by one today. Today during the call, I kind of felt bad for Natasha because we were firing questions at her non-stop for what seemed like half an hour, but she seemed fine answering each and every question. She also shared her secret plans for an upcoming book, which I can’t share with you guys because then it won’t be a secret! But trust me, you’re going to want to check this book out once it hits your local library. We concluded the session with a hearty thank-you and with a click of a button, we were disconnected. Today I found out that Natasha Friend is not only an awesome writer, but also an all-around good person too. If we’re lucky, maybe another successful author like Natasha will offer to skype with us in the near future! Hey, I can dream, right?

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What I think surprised me most was the answer she gave when asked, “How did you decide to become an author?”  Natasha replied by saying as soon as she read her first book, she started writing little stories and knew that she wanted to become an author. This surprised me as I have thought that authors would only figure this out in their older ages.

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Natasha thought our classmate Justin, looked like Justin Bieber, causing enormous laughter throughout the class. She told us about her upcoming book and bids us farewell, saying we can e-mail her with writing ideas and questions.

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Our Skype call with Natasha Friend was really motivating, not just as a student, but as an author as well. I would like to someday have at least one book published since it has been a life-long dream to see my name on the cover of a novel. Natasha gave good pointers on how I could reach that dream.   One thing that really stood out to me was her passion for writing. I get that.   Every time I think of an idea about a story, I’m writing.  Natasha told us that she’ll be writing until she runs out of ideas, which she hopes never happens.

Natasha was very open with what she told us. Not everyone can say to complete strangers, that her books have pieces of her in them. The way I think of books, is that they are like children and the author is their mother. If the mother doesn’t care to write them, and make sure they are well cleaned up, (edited) then they will never make it in the world. Natasha Friend may be a mother of three kids, but she is also the mother of her books. If each of her books has a piece of her in it, maybe they are guideposts for her. Maybe, deep down, she writes them with pieces of herself in them, so she can live in the future and the past as well.

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Natasha Friend was so open to our whole class. She shared stories about her life and how they relate to her own books. She had also told us what her upcoming book is about and why she decided to write about those topics. She inspired me to go after what I want to be when I grow up by saying that if we really enjoyed doing something, we should go after it as a living. To her credit, Natasha has a great personality.  She made me feel like I could talk to her about anything and she would give not only me, but the whole class, honest feedback to our questions. It will be a memory that will last forever for me! :)

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Natasha is an amazing author, who takes the time to acknowledge her fans.  Thank-you Natasha!

Surprisingly, half of these post were written by my boys, one of whom had asked if Natasha would consider writing a story about a boy who joined the army.  Natasha went on to share her attempts at writing from a boy’s perspective with the student.

Sincere, transparent, generous:  these character traits found in Natasha Friend have inspired my  grade 7 and 8 students, regardless of gender, to read a book with a pink cover and write about her impact on them.  Contact Natasha at her website or other authors at the Skype and Author Network.  Connect your classroom to real world learning through collaboration.  Engage your students in critical thinking via Skype.

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Responses

  1. Kudos to Mrs. Durnin’s class for a great Skype discussion about LUSH! You guys were funny, sweet, and really well prepared. Keep on reading, and I promise I’ll keep writing (hopefully a book with a male protagonist one of these days . . .). Cheers, Natasha

  2. I truly believe that this classroom skype session HAD to be the best learning experience that took place in Avon Maitland yesterday. These grade 7-8 students were hooked on Natasha’s every word. I, too, cannot wait to read her next novel……and you’re right TS14, it is our secret now, too! It is so exciting to be part of this 21st Century learning model, witnessing students so engaged and self directed in their learning. Thank youfor inviting me to be part of this exciting event!


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