Skyping authors across the world!
Books Go Walkabout has been busy ‘Skyping’ with schools and authors this summer. A great way to communicate, ask questions and have real time author contact. Beaming in an author onto a large screen or the classroom wall has a great effect and within a few moments two different places in the world are joined.
A favourite book and author of Books Go Walkabout is Dragonkeeper and award winning author, Carole Wilkinson, from Melbourne, Australia.
This narrative features two of her recent calls to schools with BgW.
In May we Skyped with Year 5 students from Kellett School, The British International School in Hong Kong. This is a large school for 4 – 18 year olds in the Kowloon Bay district of steamy Hong Kong with beautiful facilities, including theatre, libraries and swimming pool and a sky pitch for athletics and sports on the top of the large five storey building.
The students had recently been to Bejing and enjoyed this opportunity to visit modern day China and also to find out about some of its historical past.
Dragonkeeper is set in Ancient China during the Han Dynasty. A slave girl with no name, saves the life of an ageing dragon and escapes her brutal master.
Pursued by a ruthless dragon hunter, the girl and the dragon make an epic journey across China carrying a mysterious stone that must be protected.
On the day of the Skype call, the students eagerly gathered in the classroom. The teachers made the Skype connection and Carole appeared live on screen.
For a whole hour Carole talked avidly about Dragonkeeper, the research, characters, plot, protagonists, antagonists, how long the story took to write, drafting, publishers and much more.
The presentation showed aspects of the research, original drafts with many comments, and images used of dragons and emperors from Ancient China. It was fascinating, and I listened as question after question was asked by the children. Some of the questions were planned, some were from children who had become so involved in the story they wanted to find out more.
After the Skype call, the students and teachers went away and completed stories, drew pictures and added materials to their wall displays. The impact of the conversation with Carole was huge and infinitely worthwhile, providing added value to the curriculum in literacy, geography and history as well as many aspects of PSE.
Eve wrote a great dragon story – The Chinese Princess. View, print or download a copy here.
Ariel wrote a ‘Han Dynasty story. View, print or download a copy here.
Seraya wrote ‘The Dragon Ring’, and told us the techniques that she was deploying as a writer. View, print or download a copy here.
Quote from Caroline Dudman, Year 5 teacher at Kellett.
“Year 5 absolutely loved the session and it had the biggest impact into the success of our story writing unit this term. Thanks so much for organising.”
In July we Skyped Carole Wilkinson from Ashwicken C of E Primary School in Norfolk, UK to the Year 5 and 6 students. They had started reading Dragonkeeper and even after just a few chapters were fully involved in the plight of Ping, the slave girl and her journey ahead.
Ashwicken Primary School is a small rural primary school in West Norfolk, set amidst countryside with heathland and small narrow roads. A very different school to Kellett. The building is 3 years old, beautifully modern and well designed to replace the Victorian building which just wasn’t coping with this successful school
The students had just finished their SAT’s and a term full of hard work, with the end of term marking their finish at primary school and moving on to the large town secondary school in September.
Dragonkeeper, for them was a real pleasure to read and enjoy and to soak up the story.
On the day of the Skype call, the teachers were keen to see if the newly installed link would work through the local authority internet security system.
They had a very large screen and we engaged with Carole in the hall with 2 classes at once.
After a little repositioning of the camera so Carole could see all the students, we started with the presentation and questions and discussions.
Some of the questions were;
- Is it easy to write a book?
- Do you have to be good at English to write a book?
- Which school did you go to?
- What is the dragon stone?
- Why doesn’t Ping have a name?
- How many drafts do you have to do?
- When is the film coming out?
- How do you find your characters?
- Did you have to do a lot of research?
- How long did it take you to write the book?
It was very rewarding to see so much enthusiasm for the book, for reading and for reading more in the series, and for writing their own stories. The call was definitely worth while and added value to the curriculum but above all, it created students who wanted to read and have fun reading.
A quote from Briony Garford –Turner, Yr 6 teacher,
“ This has been so worthwhile, I would like to do this again next year, with more time to read the book .The children are really enjoying the story and have some interesting questions. Several of them want to read more in the series.”
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