First Ever Skype Visit
I was able to set up my first ever SKYPE visit with author Lindsey Leavitt. Lindsey is the author of the Princess for Hire series, with the first book called Princess for Hire. My class and I were extremely excited for this opportunity. I told my principal, staff developer, and librarian about this visit and they were eager to come in and visit and see what Skyping was all about.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Please search former teacher and author Kate Messner’s blog about how to set up a Skype visit. I did this but made a few mistakes. The day before, I brought my laptop to school and tested the Skype software to make sure it would work. Make sure that your district’s server will support the Skype software. I also did a test call to make sure my speakers worked as well.
What I didn’t do was make sure the attachment converter worked. For Macs, this is a small cord that attaches to your computer and then attaches to the plug of the projector. When I came to school to see if this attachment worked, I was shocked to find out that it didn’t. I scrambled to figure out what to do. I also have a MacBook Air, which makes things a little more complicated then usual.
I ran down to the Kindergarten classroom, and asked the teacher if I could use her Mac laptop. She asked for how long, and I said, just for a half an hour. She said yes. I was extremely grateful that she allowed me to borrow her computer. I took it to my classroom, and had to download Skype to it. The newest version wouldn’t work, but Skype did have a past version still available to download. This did work.
Once I had to all set up, we were ready for our virtual visit. A couple of minutes after our set time, the phone started to ring. My students, visitors, and I were on the edge of our seats! When I accepted the call, Lindsey came onto the big screen and started to talk about her writing process. She showed the class her notebooks where she keeps her ideas, and the various copies of her manuscript as they went through the editing and revision process. We even got to see her writing room! She then asked for questions.
Once my first student asked her question, our connection disconnected. This happens all the time with Skype. You need to be patient, and often wait for a few minutes. We did both.
She did come back. I had a few students wait in line to ask their question. As they asked their question they looked into the camera. They asked the question and the author would answer that question to the whole class. Make sure that you have students write thoughtful questions before the visit on index cards. I also made a sheet for each student to write five things they learned about writing and two things they could immediately apply to their writing. This made the visit extra meaningful as well.
Lindsey was awesome and the kids loved the experience. We learned a lot from her and I hope that we will be able to do it again (maybe next year).