Skype with the Authors

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Teacher’s Guide for a Skype call about Hands Around the Library
by Erika Widmeyer Dooley, teacher at SEAS International School, Costa Rica

Erika Dooley's class of first and second graders (see below) Skyped with Karen Leggett Abouraya on Election Day 2012. These tips are based on that experience.

  1. Visit the book’s website for activities and discussion questions to use after reading the book.
  2. After discussing the agenda with Ms. Abouraya or Ms. Roth, share it with the class. Skyping with an author is exciting and unfamiliar, so it’s helpful if students know what to expect.
  3. Build students’ concept of a fair election by holding a classroom election for something tangible. For example, hold an election for pretzels vs. potato chips, then share some of whichever wins with the class. While snacking, discuss what makes an election fair (ex: each person votes once, an official person counts each vote, after the winner is decided there is no negotiation).
  4. If students are going to ask questions, prepare questions ahead of time and have students write them on index cards with numbers to indicate who will ask first, second, etc. This way they will remember their questions and have a clear understanding of what order to go in.
  5. On the day of the call, take 10 – 15 minutes to set up the equipment and ensure that all children can be seen. Oftentimes, sitting next to each other on the floor is the best position for young children during a Skype call. This also minimizes background noise from chairs.
  6. Marking spots on the floor with masking tape to outline where students are “in view” of the author is also helpful.
  7. After the call, take 5-10 minutes to debrief with students and help them process what they just learned.
  8. Suggested vocabulary: election, democracy, fairness, protest

Students at SEAS International School (Services Ensuring Academic Success), Costa Rica