Author’s Skype Lessons Leave Lindell Students Inspired

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Students at Lindell Elementary School were treated to presentations from children’s author Barbara O’Connor, who addressed her young audiences via Skype on two different days. All classes in grades 3-5 have read Ms. O’Connor’s book, “How to Steal a Dog,” and were eager to converse with her about the story and the writing process in general. She joined the students through a digital Internet connection.

The children asked their virtual guest a variety of questions with regard to her work as an author. Ms. O’Connor discussed the ways she developed her book’s theme and set forth in finding a publishing company. She explained that she always loved to write but was not necessarily “good” at it, noting that her accomplishments took a great deal of practice and effort.

To support her point that every professional starts somewhere, Ms. O’Connor shared with the students her very first book, which she hand-wrote at the age of 11. She encouraged the students to put their thoughts down on paper without worrying too much about perfecting it in the beginning. “You can always work on it and make it better,” she said. “It is important to get the idea written, then edit it later.”

“How to Steal a Dog” tells the story of a girl faced with a moral dilemma while trying to improve conditions for her family. She considers “borrowing” a dog as a means of receiving a monetary reward, but knows it is the wrong thing to do. The book prompted the students to think about their own difficult decisions and reflect on the importance of doing right and demonstrating good character. During the Skype session, the students were especially excited to learn that Ms. O’Connor has two dogs of her own, which she introduced through the camera screen from her home in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

This experience provided students with the opportunity to analyze character traits, compare and contrast their lives and understand figurative language. In addition, it proved to be a positive experience to pair English Language Arts and Social Emotional Learning in action. The students also learned that they can use technology to communicate directly with interesting people who they might not otherwise have a chance to meet.