Sunday, November 04, 2007

Author Chat

Laurie Barth and her 8th grade english students will be chatting with Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, at 2:30 pm central time on Wednesday, November 7th.

Listen in and interact by clicking the link below. Follow the live video by using the player in this window.


  1. The videoconference went better than I could have imagined. The students were very prepared, and their questions ran the gamut of specific scenes and characters in the book to more general inquiries about the writing process and inspiration. Laurie did a fabulous job teaching the novel, organizing the classes for the videoconference, and providing students with the time in class to prepare for their discussion with Gene. It is incredibly powerful to see students interact with an author that they studied in class – it makes everything real and pertinent. The technological aspects of the conference were, in a phrase, too cool. Matt obviously did some homework on setting up the hardware and software, and thankfully gene is a tech guy. For myself (and the other teachers), the installation and operation of the technology was simple. Even though our kids have seen a lot of technology, it was great to see the expressions on their faces when they walked in and saw Gene drawing a character from his office in San Francisco.
    I don’t know if I would change much about the conference. The length was perfect, the kids did fine considering the timing of the conference, and the technology was smooth (even with the dropped call). Whenever another conference is planned, it’s crucial to have similar organizational and curricular goals, as Laurie did. Students could also write down reactions and post their views on a blog or wiki.
    Where do we go from here? We obviously don’t want to overdo it, but the ease and impact of the videoconference is too great to ignore. I would love to integrate the technology into Campaign 2008, streaming some of the discussion, debate, and polling over the internet. DC newscasts are an obvious implementation as well. We should also present this to the division as a whole to spur some creative thought about integrating this into our classrooms or to the Middle School as a whole.

    Again - great work Laurie and Matt, and thanks so much to Gene for a fantastic experience for everyone!

  2. CT-
    Thanks for the nice reflection. I think there is some future potential for small group skype sessions as well. For example, students who are conducting a science study might seek out and find an expert in that area to chat with via skype. The conversation can be recorded and incorporated into their presentation.

    I also think we have some real potential to do some oral history work with this stuff...students interviewing family members, relatives, friends, etc. about historical time periods...these would then be recorded. This doesn't have to be done via skype...student could use gcast to record their conversations/phone interviews. Many, many possibilities with these tools.


  3. Anonymous5:23 PM

    Thank you to everyone for the help and suppport that made this teleconference possible. It was an amazing opportunity for me as an avid reader, young adult literature scholar, AND a teacher!

    I was just thrilled to be able to introduce our students to a very cool author -- a Printz Award winner and National Book Award finalist. This interaction with Gene brought American Born Chinese to life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. We learned a great deal about the book, its symbolism, its themes, and its reflections on the cultural and social situations that impact us.

    Our students asked thought-provoking questions about very important aspects of the book -- and getting the chance to ask those questions, to hear the author answer your questions -- wow, that's just so cool.

    I am very excited that Gene likewise enjoyed the experience and has agreed to do it all again in the fall with next year's eighth graders. I can't wait!