StoryMagician

MARSHA DIANE ARNOLD'S BLOG, FULL OF WRITING AND TRAVEL ADVENTURES AND OTHER MAGICAL STORIES. FOLLOW MARSHA ON , FACEBOOK, AND TWITTER!

Marsha

Marsha

Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books and early readers. I'm a Wanderer, but I'm not lost!

Sunday Starter

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 04 September 2012
in StoryMagician

Sunday feels a little like January 1st to me.  It's a day to look forward to a whole week of possibilities, just as on January 1st we look forward to a whole year of possibilities.  It's a day to begin again.

So I will be sharing Sunday starters with you today and in the future.  Yes, I know.  I'm two days late with my Sunday starter, but I have a good excuse. A very sick computer that was in the shop for two days.  But it's never too late to begin.

Writers, let's begin at the very beginning. Beginnings are so important.  That first word must make you want to read the next. The first sentence must make you yearn for the second.

I'll be sharing activities with you in the Sunday starter, activities I've shared with students throughout the years.  My hope is that they'll help each of you on your way to writing your own unique book.  These activities were written specifically for picture book writers, but most of them are useful for all writers.

Sunday Starter for 9-2-12:

Take the story you're working on and begin it four different ways. 

Start with a different setting or a different character.  Or try starting with a funny beginning, then a quiet one.  If you've started your story in third person, write it in first person.  Choose a different point of view.  If a farmer is telling a story about his cow, have the cow tell the story instead.

After you've written your four story beginnings, decide which is your favorite and why?  Now decide which would be an editor's favorite.  Which would be a child's?  Are they all the same?

Have fun beginning and I'll see you back here next Sunday with another Sunday starter.

Tags: Untagged

Words to Aspiring Writers

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 27 August 2012
in StoryMagician

My dear friend, Mira Reisberg, leads fabulous classes on writing and illustrating.  I had the pleasure of making a short segment with her for her upcoming e-Course on the craft and business of writing children's picture books. Here's the link for Mira's Picture Book Academy.  I shared a bit about my writing process, writing character driven stories and universal themes.  You must sign up for Mira's class to see it,  lots of other segments with creators like Yuyi Morales and Ashley Wolff, and more, but Mira put a short clip up on Youtube, which you can find here: Marsha's Words to Aspiring Authors

Write on.  Draw On. Create your world.

Tags: Untagged

Listen to Roar of a Snore and Heart of a Tiger

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 04 August 2012
in StoryMagician

Feel a need to listen to Jack Huffle's story, ROAR OF A SNORE, or Little Four's journey in HEART OF A TIGER? Thanks to Dori and Concord Library you can!  The librarians did a wonderful job reading these and making them available as podcasts.  And it's nice to remember the wonder of words, along with the wonder of illustrations.  Here's the link. http://ccclib.wordpress.com  HEART OF A TIGER is currently the 4th listing and ROAR OF A SNORE is 6th.

Tags: Untagged

Marathon Characters

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 26 May 2012
in StoryMagician

Amy Dixon and I have a number of things in common.  For one, we are both clients of Red Fox Literary.  For another, we both have books that have to do with marathons.  Hers is the delightful MARATHON MOUSE, to be released in November.  Mine is THE PUMPKIN RUNNER, based on a real man (Cliff Young) and a real race in Australia.  Oh, how our characters love to run!

Thank you, Amy, for writing about my book on your wonderful blog.  We Red Fox kits need to stick together.  See the whole story at Amy Dixon's Books.

Tags: Untagged

Whirly last days of school

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 24 May 2012
in StoryMagician

So much to do for students, educators...and authors...on the last days of school!

This May I've been skyping with students across the land and visiting them in person too.  So much to share with delightful librarians, educators, and students.  

Last week I was at the amazing Kern County Young Authors' Fair, a whole week of authors visiting schools throughout Kern County, plus a Bakersfield BBQ with board members, and the KRA dinner where authors try to outdo each other with their 5 minute talks. Just kidding.  That was Jeff Savage's joke.  (Students, remember how I tell you that you each have your own special style.  Well, authors do too.  Our talks were all so different...special and entertaining in our own way.)  The 2012 authors include some of my favorite people:  Sneed Collard, Jeff Savage, Tim Egan, Mary Ann Fraser, Mara Price, Paul Janeczko, and Myron Uhlberg. 

Sadly, the IPhoto goblins stole all my great photos. Those below are the only ones that survived.  They were hiding in the trash.  Fuzzy and closed eyes, but sometimes photos found in the trash, like writing, can show a lot.

Redwood Elementary

Such handsome guys.  Their mother, Sandra, was my gracious guide around Redwood Elementary.

Roar of a snore at Franklin

Franklin Elementary celebrates ROAR.  Thanks students for the great poster.

Lily at Franklin Elementary

Franklin Elementary celebrates Lily. What moovelous looking cows, students!

Before Kern County I was in Virginia with vibrant storyteller Irene Smalls.  We were the keynote speakers at Reading Matters, an event for children and parents put on by Young Audiences of Virginia.  Their main purpose is to bring arts education to schools.  One of the activities at the event was making puppets, like the creative one below.

Reading Matters Virginia

Then there was skyping with Heather Walters' 2nd graders in Wisconsin, Amy MacDonald's 1st graders in Apalachin, New York, and for the second year in a row, Courtney Richards' students in Massachusetts.  Love these teachers' and students' enthusiasm. Courtney shared her kindergarteners were excited to write in their journals and pretend they were "authors" too.  Love those early bloomers.

Authors, for those of you wondering if students can get anything through a screen hundreds of miles away, I want to assure you that they can.  Here's what Heather wrote  after our visit.  "Whay a dynamic Skype session.  The children had the best time.  They were so engaged." How do I engage the children?  One way is to get the teachers involved.  Because I can't always see all the students and don't know their names, I ask the teacher to call on a few students when I ask them question.  We are now interactive and it works great.

Thanks to all of you for a fabulous May.

Tags: Untagged

Author and students together

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 30 April 2012
in StoryMagician

Jennifer Wilson sent photos of the Carmen Dragon students and myself in action.  Here we are snapping and rapping to The Story Magician Rap.  You guys had such great rhythm!

Carmen Dragon Story Magician rap

 

Here is author looking confused.  But students, you are still so attentive and patient.  Thank you!

 C Dragon confused author

 

Author looking wind blown.  But students, you know it's what is on the inside that counts.


Carmen Dragon windblown author


Thank you all for a cowabunga day! :)

Tags: Untagged

In-person or through Skype, author visits are fun

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Friday, 27 April 2012
in StoryMagician

It's that time of year: Author Visit Time.  March through May are generally my busiest months for visitng schools.  That's one reason I love it when educators and parents make plans early, sometimes inviting me 8 to 12 months in advance.

The last two weeks, I've visited two beautiful schools in person: St. Helena Primary in St. Helena and Carmen Dragon Elementary in Antioch.  Reminder to self: plan to stop for dinner at the The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone next time I'm in St. Helena.  Beautiful on the outside and I'm sure scrumptious on the inside. 

This week I've also skyped with graduate students at SUNY's Brockport, New York campus and helped elementary students celebrate BOOKFEST in Shigawake-Port-Daniel, Quebec. It's great fun to skype and from my feedback extremely successful, but I always wish I could step into the classroom and chat or take some fun photos as we did at Carmen Dragon this week.

Carmen Dragon

Heart of a Tiger


DSCF9003


DSCF9002

Tags: Untagged

Skype visits improve test scores

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 25 April 2012
in StoryMagician
     Evidently, it's true!  Early this month, Tina Riley, the Technology Integration Specialist for Roane County, West Virginia, called me with exciting news.  Students being computer graded on pre-tests had dramatically increased their scores after my skype visit and Tina's preparation of writing prompts.  Those computer graded tests rate from 0-6.  One boy, who before had little interest in writing, got all 5's and a girl, who before had gotten 3's and 4's, got a 6 in sentence structure.  Tina believes my sharing how I take notes, encouraging them, and the Roar of a Snore prompt all helped the students.  This made my week!  Here's what Tina wrote me:

Participating in the Skype an Author activity with Marsha Diane Arnold has been a wonderful experience for all of us.  I shared with Mrs. Arnold a plan of action to help my students in grades 2 through 5 think more deeply about their writing skills and strategies.  Through this experience, Marsha provided information about her personal writing strategies, being an author, developing pre-writing skills, and researching.  The students also were provided with writing prompts.  Marsha challenged them to write a sequel to her Roar of a Snore.  Roar of a Snore 2!  It sparked them to new heights with their writing skills and desire.  We actually created a writing prompt using Roar of a Snore in a program which assesses the students on content and grammar.  The teachers shared delightful news about seeing a marked improvement.  This opportunity helped students get focused on writing, and they enjoyed it!

Tina Riley – Technology Integration Specialist, Roane County Schools, WV

Tags: Untagged

Banana Peelin' with Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 31 March 2012
in StoryMagician

Thank you, Elizabeth, for inviting me to share my embarrassing moments and slips with the world.  Hmmm.  That doesn't sound quite right, does it?  Ha.

Truly, Elizabeth has a great thing going on her blog.  To read about my slips, you can check here at.Banana Peelin'

Teachers as Storytellers

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Friday, 16 March 2012
in StoryMagician

This is for all aspiring writers, especially teachers, and especially teachers at Spencer Elementary who tell me they have stories tucked away that they'd love to see in print, but wonder how. Thanks for asking, Spencer Elementary, and thanks for skyping.

First, writing for children is not always the staid, gentle, or lucrative profession many seem to think it is.  Writers can be wild!  Writing for children is highly competitive.  It is filled with rejection.  And very few writers can keep roof overhead and food on the table by writing alone.  That said, there's no other profession I'd rather be in.

You asked for the names of my publishers.  Publishers are easy to find.  They are inside the book.  My publishers include the biggest, most respectable names in publishing.  Diel (Penguin), Random House, and Abrams.  These are traditional publishers, the only publishers I have experience with.  Publishing is changing dramatically.  Self-publishing has become more respectable.  E-books are available.  But I know naught of these.

Editors of books may be more difficult to locate, but sometimes an author will mention them in the dedication or elsewhere.  Look at the dedication page of my first book, Heart of a Tiger, and you will see it's dedicated to Diane Arico.  She was my fabulous, knowledgeable editor, but she left publishing years ago.  Editors and houses are constantly changing.  

The best way to keep up on what's happening in children's publishing is to join SCBWI.  Go to scbwi.org and check it out.  There's also Publisher's Weekly and lots of author and editors' blogs to assist.  Here are just a few to get you started: http://emmaddryden.blogspot.com/http://www.verlakay.com/,  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/ , http://janeyolen.com/, and http://janeyolen.com/.

And below is the blurb I send to those who ask for advise.  I hope it's helpful.

Re: your question, professional writing is a mixture of art and business.  Just as in any other profession, one must study in order to succeed. The three things I did at the beginning of my career that I think helped were:

1) I read almost every book I found in the library about writing in general and writing for children, specifically.  I visited bookstores to see what was currently being published for children.  This research work is vital.  It always amazes me the number of people who hope to publish a children's story, who've never done this homework. Go to a bookstore and find the Children's Book Section.  Bookstores are good because they'll have the most current and the most popular books out. Most of us do this, but if you're like me you usually don't read the books CLOSELY, you just scan them.  We can learn by scanning, but we can learn more by reading closely. Take an afternoon or an evening and settle yourself in. As you read a story ask yourself questions…..Why is this part so funny?  Why don't I like this character?  Why did the author begin with one particular scene and not another? In this way we're teaching ourselves.

2) I joined SCBWI.  Anyone who tells me they have a wonderful idea for a children's book and asks how they can get it published, I direct to SCBWI and the website:  scbwi.org.  SCBWI has most of the answers, including lists of publishers and insights on how not to submit a manuscript as well as how to do it the right way.

3) I started, with another writer, a writer's support group.  You can read each other your stories and help each other make them better.

Patience and perseverance are key!

Good luck with the storytelling, teachers!

Tags: Untagged

Cowabunga, Walton Elementary!

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 04 March 2012
in StoryMagician

Almost heaven, West Virginia.  That's how I felt skyping with the students and educators of Walton Elementary.  Oh, students, you are probably too young to remember that beautiful song sung by John Denver.  Anyway, I had a grand time skyping with you.  Can you tell?Walton Elementary

Mrs. Riley wanted me to share some writing prompts with you.  I'm afraid with all the other homework I gave, this might overwhelm you, but if you look at my December 2011 post to Geary Elementary, you'll find some fun "Story Starters".  You can also try this link:Thanks for skyping, Geary Elementary. "Story starters"below.

Your other assignments, if you wish to accept them, are about ROAR OF A SNORE and the chapter book I'm working on.

1) MUGWART AND ABIGAIL assignment

The chapter book I'm revising is currently entitled MUGWART AND ABIGAIL.  The main character is Abigail who dreams of going on a dinosaur dig and maybe becoming a paleontologist.  But instead of a dinosaur dig, her father moves the family to the tiny town of Mossville, far, far from anything, including dinosaurs!  Since you are about the same age as Abigail, I'd appreciate your sharing your thoughts on the following:

a)  What do you find most fascinating about dinosaurs?  Do you have a favorite dinosaur?  A favorite dinosaur story?  Have you heard about feathered dinosaurs?  What can you tell me about them?

b)  If you had to move away from your town and friends (or if you've done this), what would you worry about most?  What would you be excited about?

2) ROAR OF A SNORE assignment

Write your very own ROAR OF A SNORE 2.  Instead of having Jack Huffle as your main character, use Molly Olsen, the girl on the last page of my ROAR OF A SNORE.  The plot will remain the same.  Molly will be searcing for the source of the loud, loud snore!  But the setting, ah, the setting.  You are going to change the setting, the place where the story happens, to some place new.  It won't be a farmhouse and barn.  It might be a jungle with jungle animals snoring or under the ocean with octopus and whales snoring.  Use your imagination and have fun!

Keep reading and writing, Walton Elementary students.  Hope to meet you in person some day!

Tina Riley and Walton Elementary students

Chapter Books and House Cleaning

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 22 February 2012
in StoryMagician

I told myself I would not clean the house (except for basic cleaning) until I finished the revision of my chapter book.  But I'm getting a little frightened of the growing dust balls!

The truth is I think I'm close to being finished.  But sometimes when you get close, you become frightened.  Is it good enough?  Will my agent like it?  Will an editor ever buy it?  If I never finish, I'll never know.  Might that be a better outcome?

But as I tell kids at my author visits: "It only takes one yes to be on the way to where you want to be."  I tell them about all the rejections, the "no's," I got for my first picture book story and how finally one editor said "yes" and I was on my way to a wonderful adventure.  I only need one "yes" for this chapter book and it will be another whole new chapter in my life.  :)

Besides, I'm planning to ask the kids to help.  I have a Skype visit with 3rd and 4th graders the end of this month.  They are the same age as my main character.  They may have the perfect insights to wrap this chapter book up.  I will be so happy.  And so will my house. 

Tags: Untagged

Happy Anniversary Beloit Elementary Authors' Party

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 15 February 2012
in StoryMagician

COWABUNGA! It’s the twentieth anniversary of Margo Hosie and the Authors’ Party at Beloit Elementary. Twenty years of fabulous writing and fun is an admirable accomplishment. What a grand bunch of authors have arisen from Margo’s efforts.

Margo is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Authors' Party and asked all the authors over the years to write a note to the young authors.  What a grand idea.  Margo has so many!

I visited Beloit for the Authors’ Party in 2005. It was one of my most memorable school visits, partly because I was in my home state of Kansas, partly because of the amazing and hospitable Margo Hosie, and partly because of the talented students whose art and writing about Prancing, Dancing Lily graced nearly every wall. Sadly Prancing, Dancing Lily has gone out-of-print since my visit. But soon she will dancing in a digital app to be available on ITunes. The book world is changing. The world is changing. Time flies.

My visit was a long time ago. Two of my books weren’t even in print then: Hugs on the Wind and Roar of a Snore. Hugs on the Wind has gone in and out of print in that time, but Roar of a Snore lives on and has twice been selected for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. The Huffles snore on! Just as the Authors’ Party goes on and on! May it continue to produce wonderful writers and marvelous stories for many years to come. Write On, young writers!

Manuscript Consultations

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 09 February 2012
in StoryMagician

Writers of the World, let it be known I am now doing manuscript consultations for picture book manuscripts.  If you are interested, check my home page at www.marshadianearnold.com. It's in the Event Calendar box on the left.

Tags: Untagged

Skyping with Hanna Woods

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 09 February 2012
in StoryMagician

Oh, Missouri, how I adore you.  Thank you Hanna Woods students, Amy Johnson, and Joyce Bright for kind words and surprising photos of our Skype visit.  I do look surprised, don't I?

If any one else in Missouri or around the world would like to Skype with me for a full length slideshow presentation and a question and answer about ROAR OF A SNORE, HEART OF A TIGER, and more, go to "Write Marsha" on my site and we'll schedule it.

Tags: Untagged

Scattering Stars

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 06 February 2012
in StoryMagician

This feels like a new blog to me as I will not be posting at storymagician.blogspot.com in the future.  All things Storymagician are found on my website now and you can access my blog at www.storymagician.com.  I hope to connect with my readers more here .  Please sign up for my newsletter to get monthly news about making Magic with Stories.

Thought for the day:

The great Sufi poet Rumi said, "We come spinning out of nothingness, 

scattering stars like dust."  What kind of stars shall we scatter today?  What shall we create?

Tags: Untagged

Thank you, Stillson Elementary Creative Writers, for skyping with me today!

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 18 January 2012
in StoryMagician

Dear Stillson Elementary Creative Writers,

It was such fun meeting with you today through Skype. I am so inspired that you are seriously pursuing your writing by meeting and talking and thinking and WRITING! Say hooray for yourselves!

I wanted to share that my NEW website should be up by next Wednesday. Check www.marshadianearnold.com then and you'll see a brand new, dynamic site. Under the MEET MARSHA tab you can read a bit about my life and how I started writing. There's also an ASK MARSHA section. If you want to know more about where I get my ideas you can click my books under MAGICAL WRITINGS. I share a bit about each book.

Remember to try to write a little every day, even if only for five minutes. And remember to read the best books you can find, as well as write the best stories you can write. Good writing has a rhythm, a flow. When you read wonderful writing, it will get into your mind and your "bones" and it will help you become a better writer.

And just for you, here's an early draft of ROAR OF A SNORE. If you read the book, you'll see there were LOTS of changes...for the better, I think.

01

Have fun writing wonderful stories!! And thank you, Ms. Merconti, for making it all happen!

Tags: Untagged

Skyping with Geary Elementary

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 03 December 2011
in StoryMagician

Yes, that's me on the wall, both the child me (from many years ago) and the current me. I use three screens: Keynote for the slideshow, Skype so I can see the students, and Photo Booth so they can see me. Some issues doing it this way, like I don't know WHERE to look, but it works quite well.

01

02

Tags: Untagged

Thanks for skyping, Geary Elementary. "Story starters"below.

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 01 December 2011
in StoryMagician

Thanks for the fun Skype chat on Wednesday, Geary Elementary. It was good "seeing" you!

Have any of you started your own Scribbles and Scraps file yet? It can be a file folder, an envelope, a box...anything you want. You can name your file "My Great Idea File" or "Scribbles and Scraps" or "Story Seeds" or make up your own name. It's a great place to keep story ideas that may someday become wonderful stories.

In my writing funshops, I enjoy sharing story ideas with students. Story seeds, I sometimes call them. Below are a few. See what fun stories you can come up with from these story seeds.

1) Some time ago I visited the Galapagos Islands, a group of volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador in South America. On the Galapagos, you find strange and unusual animals. Some, like the marine iguana and the Galapagos tortoise, are found nowhere else on earth.

One of my favorite animals on the Galapagos Islands is the blue-footed booby.

01

In this photo he appears to be amazed by his own feet!

They are pretty amazing. Bright blue.

This one photo is enough to begin the storytelling process.

What if he didn't like his blue feet? Can you tell that story?

Or what if he loved his blue feet so much, he became vain and boastful. Can you tell that story?

This blue-footed booby is your first story seed.

2) Here's your second story seed:

Look at the baby sea lion in the picture below.

02

He appears a bit lost.

Thankfully he knows how to read signposts!

03

I wonder where he's going.

What could you write about this?

Is the sea-lion lost or on an adventure?

Where do you think he's going? To find his mother? To find a friend? To go for a swim in the ocean? To hide from a Galapagos monster? Yikes!

If you want to stay closer to home :-), you might like to write about a pet of your own or a pet that belongs to a friend. Remember how I asked during our Skype chat how many of you had pets or knew a pet? Remember how I told you pets are a good place to get ideas for stories?

You might have a great story about your pet to write. Fantastic! But I'd also like you to consider the third story seed below.

3) Write two letters.

In the first you are writing a letter to your pet. Just a few paragraphs. It might start like this:

Dear Twinkie, Since you're a cat and can't come to school, I'm going to tell you what it's like around here.

In the second letter your pet is writing to you about things that are happening at home. Just a few paragraphs.

Dear Sally, Since I'm a cat and you're not, I think you should know why I scratched up your bean bag chair last night...

There you have it, Geary Elementary Story Magicians. Three story seeds to lead you into three stories. Have fun!

Tags: Untagged

Skype visit makes Read Aloud West Virginia statewide news

Posted by Marsha
Marsha
Celebrator of life. Lover of stories. Mom, wife, feeder of three cats. Author of award-winning picture books a...
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 16 October 2011
in StoryMagician

In June 2011, I chatted with second, third, and fourth graders in a rural part of West Virginia via Skype. Tina Riley, Technology Integration Specialist extraordinaire for Roane County Schools, had worked a year on the project, researching 16 authors. I was the lucky author she selected to skype with and we had a grand time.

01

In September, Tina contacted me again by e-mail, with the subject heading "News...better than I imagined".

One of the teachers at Reedy Elementary is also part of the Read Aloud committee for West Virginia. She contacted the state director about our Skype visit. The next thing Tina knew the visit had made statewide news. You can read the entire story at http://www.readaloudwestvirginia.org/RoaneSkype.php. I'll also post it below.

Now Tina is arranging for three more West Virginia schools to Skype with me, this time with an honorarium and organized activities at each school. She's also had contact with a college that's interested in learning more about Skype visits with educators and authors.

Congratulations to Tina Riley, a special person and tireless educator and all the educators involved in connecting students with authors and illustrators. May the Skyping continue on.

Here's the wonderful news that was shared with all of West Virginia:

Roane students Skype with author Marsha Arnold

On one of the last days of the 2010 - 2011 school year, Reedy Elementary School's second, third, and fourth graders hustled into Mrs. Hall's fourth grade classroom to quickly find a seat. Using web cameras and Skype at promptly 12:30, students dialed to begin traveling across the USA via the computer. On the opposite coast in California, it was 9:30 in the morning and author Marsha Diane Arnold clicked on the phone icon as the computerized phone ring sounded in her home. Students were thrilled to see a split screen come into view as they said hello to Ms. Arnold while at the same time being able to watch themselves!

Thanks to Roane County Schools' Technology Integration Specialist, Tina Riley, and the Read Aloud WV committee, Reedy Elementary School students were able to spend a twenty minute visit being able to talk with published children's author, Marsha Diane Arnold. After a quick discussion of the difference in the weather in both places (it was sunny in West Virginia) and a view of the rain in Ms. Arnold's back yard, the group moved on to the reasons Ms. Arnold became a writer. Ms. Arnold shared her "idea file", where "jumbles of scribbles and scraps (napkins, envelopes, and check deposit slips to name a few) live". Ms. Arnold explained how to capture ideas while encouraging students to begin their own idea file.

Ms. Arnold spend another part of their visit showing the process of creating a book by demonstrating how a story and it's illustration evolve from those jumbles of scribbles and scraps. She emphasized the rewriting process, showing samples of her own rewrites and explained illustration changes from early sketches to the final picture. It certainly gave the students something to think about as they were finally able to stand and one by one ask their questions of Ms. Arnold. From why did you decide to become an author to where did you get the idea to write the book, Roar of the Snore, to how many children do you have, Reedy Elementary students spend the last ten minutes sharing with Ms. Arnold. As the twenty minutes rolled to an end, the students said their good byes and waved to Ms. Arnold.

The "Skype An Author Network" virtual tour between Reedy Elementary School and Ms. Arnold was used as an pilot with the hopes to bring it to the other three county elementary schools in the next school year. After spending almost an entire year viewing the different authors, Tina Riley, Roane County Schools' Technology Integration Specialist approached the Read Aloud WV committee for help to make this pilot happen. Read Aloud WV Roane County Coordinator, Meg Goffreda offers this advice to other schools wishing to give it a try. " After had the experience of a virtual visit with an author and having authors visit our school, the discussion and interaction between the author and the students whether in person or on a screen is so very much the same. Once students understand how the technology works and we all know how quickly they are able to adapt, they're more than happy to carry on the conversation as if the author is right there in the room with them. It was an awesome experience that I would encourage other schools to try. Mrs. Riley's many talents as our school system's TIS enabled her to find the website, Skype An Author Network, and be able to set the entire project up for our school. The site alone has thousands of authors who are willing to skype with libraries and schools across the country. While most of the time is a cost involved, some of the authors will provide the service giving twenty minutes for free. Marsha Arnold was one of those special authors and due to her skyping with just one of our county schools, we're hoping to bring her back for more than the free twenty minutes to do the same of the other Roane County elementary schools. Most published authors have web sites so picking a book and then contacting the author to skype with your class is another option to look into. Skyping is so simple. All the directions for needed materials, how to set, and skyping the other party are all right there on the Skype An Author website. Roane County Schools is so fortunate to have the many talents of our TIS, Tina Riley. We would never have been one of the first school systems in the state of West Virginia to use the Skype An Author (Skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com). Our Read Aloud committee is excited to see what she shares with us next year!"

Tags: Untagged
You are here: Home Blogs/Media StoryMagician Blog