On Thursday afternoon I was able to sit in on about 10 minutes of Alexandra Siy's videoconference with fifth graders. The portion that I saw was fantastic and student engagement was high. As was the case with Dorothy's presentation, students really appreciated seeing a slideshow of Alex's life which led into a discussion of her inspiration for writing. I hated to have to leave half way through!

It was also very exciting to sit in on Vicki's planning session with Carla and Alicia who will be working together on an upcoming science unit, using the book What's the Big Idea as A Guide. More to come later...

It was a pleasure to sit in on the video-conference between Dorothy and fifth grade students last week. There was a palpable buzz of excitement in the room, both from students and teachers. I thought that the slideshow that Dorothy shared introducing herself through pictures was a great way to hook the students. Students enjoyed seeing pictures from her life (childhood, pets, home, view from her office window, etc). I think it helped students to connect with Dorothy and identify with her as a "real person," who also happens to be an author. The second portion of the slideshow (pictures from earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. that Dorothy in some way had a connection to) allowed students to begin to see where some of her ideas come from, specifically for Shaping The Earth, the book that they are working with. It was cool to watch student reactions to the pictures. They have been studying geography and landforms and I could literally see them making connections between their prior knowledge and what Dorothy was sharing with them.

After Dorothy finished her presentation, there was an opportunity for Q & A. Students had taken time beforehand to develop thoughtful questions based on what they had learned about her through her web site. Considering this, and also that they already had some exposure to her book, the quality and depth of questions was greater than most that you would hear during a traditional author visit.

Dorothy did a great job sharing with students how she turned her natural curiosity about the world and how it works into a career as a writer. She encouraged students to take notice of the amazing things that surround them in nature every single day. To keep an eye out for things that they find truly interesting...then to dig deeper. This is where good non-fiction writing begins. The hope it that these students will do this as they begin their feature article project, later this year. I believe that during the next IVC, they will dig deeper into the writing process (good research strategies, writing for a particular audience). Looking forward to seeing this author/student relationship continue to develop!

Here is a screenshot from our "Meet the Authors" session. Via Skype, each author had the opportunity to introduce themselves to Bogert faculty and briefly discuss their books as well as their hopes for the project.


The enthusiasm involved in this project thus far as been quite invigorating. It was exciting to sit with the grade chairs at a beginning of the year meeting to discuss the various books and where they best fit in the curriculum. As teachers scanned through the books, ideas began to burst forth about a great array of possibilities for classroom use.

What an opportunity we have been given! Over the course of the year our school will have personal access to nine authors of high-quality non-fiction books! At this point teachers are working through questions of implementation. What will this will look like? How can we best maximize the potential of this opportunity? The answers to these questions are still being formulated, but in the meantime we are very much looking forward to seeing what happens when students have the opportunity to connect with non-fiction text in a very deep and meaningful way.

Our initial video-conference with Vicki to launch the project and share a vision with the faculty took place today. The video below shows Dave sharing enthusiasm for the project: (coming soon)