Readers in Mason Intermediate fifth grade teachers Amanda Schreiber and Chelsea Wirtz’s classes are hanging out with famous authors utilizing Skype and Google Hangout. The authors are part of the classes' Mock Newbery Book Club. The fifth grade students are reading 16 notable books that have been published in 2016, and have been tasked with deciding who should win the 2017 Newbery Medal.
“We've looked at the Newbery Medal criteria and had several discussions on what makes a text distinguished. About 85 students signed up from Team Infinity to be part of our optional book club,” said Schreiber. “Students meet during our FLEX time to discuss books and participate in our virtual author visits. By signing up, they pledged to read at least one book a month through January and participate in our meetings. They'll cast a vote in January before the ALA conference for our Team Infinity's Newbery winner! “
As a part of the Mock Newbery Book Club, Schreiber and Wirtz wants their students to be able to connect with new authors. The goal is for students to learn more about the books' back stories and each author's writing process, while learning how to make connections through books.
“Luckily we were able to get four amazing authors to agree to visit us virtually. We've already had a Hangout with the author of Counting Thyme, Melanie Conklin. She shared a lot about her writing process and how she doodles and sketches to help create her settings and story ideas,” shared Schreiber. “ She also told us she wrote NINE drafts of Counting Thyme before it was finished - this really helped us see the grit and determination it takes to write a novel!”
The classes have also been ‘hanging out’ with the author of the historical fiction novel, Paper Wishes, Lois Sepahban. Students are captivated by her story of a Japanese girl sent to live with her family in an internment camp during WWII. Students will also be hearing from Ohio author Jennifer Maschari the author of The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price and author Elly Swartz, author of Finding Perfect.
“For each Hangout, authors are sharing more about their novels and writing process as well as answering student generated questions. Elly Swartz has also offered to lead writing session and lesson with the students!” added Schreiber.
Schreiber and Wirtz’s students have been so curious about the inspiration used, writing ideas and books the authors love to read. There is hopes to also skype with another Mock Newbery Book Club in January to discuss the favorite books of the year and share voting results.
“It's our hope that these books help connect students to each other and others across the country. We'll be watching the ALA Newbery announcement live in January to see if any of our favorites have been chosen for the Newbery or Honor award!” said Schreiber.