Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Skype Savvy?

     If you haven’t heard about it already, Skype is free, downloadable software that lets you make video calls on the Internet at no cost. Skyping is pretty simple, you just need a computer with Internet access  and a web cam with a mic. Many authors enjoy using Skype to interact with their readers, and some will participate in short Skype sessions (ranging from 10-20 minutes) with libraries and schools for free. We were curious about the whole Skype thing and thought it would be cool to arrange a virtual author visit. So, we contacted Miami-based teen fiction writer Crissa-Jean Chappell (author of Total Constant Order) and invited her to Skype with a group of about 15 teens at the library.

     Our Skype session with Crissa was interesting and funny. She entertained us with stories about how she spies on people at the mall and uses an eavesdropping technique to gather ideas for her writing. When asked what her favorite thing about being a writer was, she smiled and said: “I have permission to daydream, and get paid for it.” Crissa also gave us advice on how to become better writers: “Read a lot, keep a journal, and make time for writing every day.”
     If you want to explore Skyping with friends, start by reviewing all the rules about safety on the Internet and ask for your parents’ permission. Try asking your teacher or school librarian if you could help plan a Skype session with one of your favorite authors or a guest lecturer in whatever subject you’re studying. Some schools use Skype to raise global awareness or to practice foreign language skills by video conferencing with students in other countries. However you approach it, Skype is an awesome tool and an entertaining way to communicate.
Skype Starter Sites:
Skype an Author Network for Children and Teens: http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/

50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom: http://www.teachingdegree.org/2009/06/30/50-awesome-ways-to-use-skype-in-the-classroom/

-by Lisa, Teen Services Assistant at the Headquarters branch

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