Friday, September 26, 2014

Online Hangouts With Authors? Yep, We Do That.

When my colleagues write about the things that they do on their campuses, I am never sure if they will work in my homeschool program. After all, they have a captive audience. They can prepare the kids by asking them to read the author’s books or brainstorming good questions for the author before the skype begins. Would an author even be interested in skyping with us?
Doubts and questions plagued me, but I pushed forward. I succeeded in connecting with two authors and our parent group generously fulfilled my request for funds to purchase books by the authors. I arrived, and started to set up. I had never skyped before. Luckily, two middle students were
there and were kind enough to teach me how to set up a skype session and call another person. I found out that they do it all the time.

As kids slowly trickled in I could not help but notice one boy carrying a Gannon and Wyatt Book and I discovered that another student came prepared with questions for the Sara 
Albee. In fact, he had a full list of them. Doubts flew away as we greeted our first author, Sara Albee. Her gracious attitude and funny stories instantly won the kids over. “Why would you write about poop?” One student asked. “Well, I was studying history and I wondered where Knights go?! Haven’t you ever wondered that? what do you think?” Small giggles rippled through the room. 
“They just rust inside." 
“They have several cloths that they take out after they go.” More giggles. The giggle fest continued as she told us a story of her little boy flushing bouncy balls down the toilet. After turning on her treadmill and showing us how she walks and works all day, we bid farewell.

The second skype was even more interesting.This time we used Google Hangout. This was new to the author, so before the event, I sent him tutorial videos and met on Google Hangout the day before.

Keith Hemstreet writes about two homeschooled children as they go on adventures all over the world. As our students introduced themselves it became apparent that one of them had been waiting to speak to Keith. “My name is Silas, and I am a big fan.” A smile spread of ear to ear and he held Keith’s book up to the computer camera. The audience was full of good questions,
“What inspires you to write?”
“Was the part when they found it under his bed real or fake?”
“How old are the boys now? Do they ever present with you?
“What books do you like to read?”
“Do you know any famous authors?”

Finally, one of our students had a comment. “I have lots of idea for you!” He stated confidently. Keith graciously asked him to share. “I think that you should write about adventures of lots of kids, like us.”

Today we received a package from Keith. It is full of folders, pens, journals, and a copy of their new book. I can not wait to pull aside his "big fan" and share the goodies!

I shouldn’t have been nervous about the kids and questions. Even the students who wandered in, not knowing what was going on ended up engaged and talking to the author. Homeschoolers are often marginalized and finding a story about “us” can be difficult. On this night, we heard about an author who was inspired by a homeschooling family. Our students’ curiosity and guts led them to experience a conversation about inspiration, purpose, and poop. Yep, poop. And it was super fun.