Picture this – two contrasting spaces! The dizzying heights, dazzling lights, the energy, the sounds, the sights of bustling New York City and compare this with the quiet tranquility, the rurality and the remoteness that is Hawkesdale, where the silence of the surroundings may be broken by laughing kookaburras and squawking galahs. And so it was that an author from New York came to Hawkesdale p12 College, via skype and spent lunchtimes with students encouraging and teaching them to write stories.
And so it was with some mixed feeling of sadness, happiness and excitement, that we had our last videoconference linkup with Christopher Herz, the author from New York for 2011. It was the end of November and the end of the school year loomed closer.
We were excited for Christopher as it was the eve of his new book release, Pharmacology and we were all curious about it, how it was put together, potential sales etc. The students had many questions. Read Chrisopher’s blog post on Time for Launch
In the words of Ruby who is young writer and passionate about writing:-
I never thought I would have the opportunity to meet an author, let alone actually work with one.
Read more from Ruby Lunch with an Author and its impact on her.
Over the 10 weeks that we worked together, students have come in at lunchtime and completed the tasks given by Christopher in their home or spare time. Here are the tasks that Christopher set:-
- Develop a character
- Make the character credible – put yourself in the ‘body and eyes’ of the character. Interview your character. Get your character to have a conversation with the character that another student has created
- Create a setting for your character
- Start the story
During the week, students would add their completed assignment work to evernote folders that Christopher had created. Christopher would give advice and feedback on their work. During the skype linkup, he would talk to each student individually (and the group would listen in) about their progress, teasing out better quality writing styles in each of the students.
- an amazing revelation of writing styles and creativity in students
- one student who rarely completes work at school completed Christopher’s assignments
- students who are so very shy in class, gained confidence in the use of the webcam and microphone with Christopher Herz
- a gradual understanding of the big differences in our lives and locations.
Although we could often hear the planes flying low over Christopher’s home in New York, neither side really understood the differences in place. In fact, Christopher would encourage the students to write for 15 minutes every day on anything. They should listen to conversations going on around them, take note and think about using them in their stories. The students would complain that they did not have time in the mornings before school as they had to catch their school bus early – some as early as 7:30am in the morning. He replied that they could write on the bus and fill in that time fruitfully. Students replied that the roads were too bumpy!! It was then that both parties decided to share images in an evernote folder to show their surroundings, pets etc.
This year Christopher took a video clip of what it was like to wait for a train on the New York subway. Students were encouraged to write about what they could hear and see and contrast it with catching a school bus.
Read student responses
On Thursday this week, Christopher will present virtually (using skype), a copy of his latest book to each student who was involved in these lunchtime linkups. Parents have been invited and students will bring a plate to share.
Formal connections will resume during the winter term for us in Australia.
What questions do you have? What have I missed out on sharing? As I am the Innovator of the Month for April, you can email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and they shall be answered.