Friday, November 2, 2012

Skype Visit with Stephen McCranie

I credit author Kate Messner for getting me interested in Skyping. Shortly after I joined Twitter she released The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. I read it, loved it, and somehow connected my librarian and Kate. The end result was Kate Skyping with my school for family reading night.

I’ve participated with many amazing Skype visits over the past two years – although last year my technology was down for the majority of the year. I restarted the Skype visits again this summer with my family reading camp with great success. (Thanks to Kate, again, and the ever-energetic Ame Dyckman.) Then I saw a post on Nerdy Book Club in September from Stephen McCranie offering up a visit this fall. I quickly applied.

Stephen is the author of a fabulous graphic novel series, Mal and Chad. The first two books are out; the third one will be released this December. You can check out his website HERE.

Let me just say that my students LOVED this visit. It was about 20 minutes long and very interactive. Stephen introduced himself; told a little about his books, and showed my students the tablet he does most of his drawing on. He then switched over to the tablet so we could see what he was drawing.

He introduced the kids to Mal and Chad – which I appreciated. I had tried to get as many kids exposed to the books as possible ahead of time, but then my own boys saw the books and scooped them up. This is a series I will be purchasing extra copies of, there is high demand.

After Stephen introduced the kids to his characters he talked about where stories come from and what all comics need (story and pictures.) To illustrate this point he drew a few pictures and told a story, all with suggestions from my students.

Stephen then went on to talk about how everyone can draw and that it can be as simple as knowing your shapes. He showed this by drawing a few well know characters. Finally, he had the kids suggest some items for him to draw while the kids asked him a few questions.

What I really appreciated about this visit was how interactive it was. Although we couldn’t see Stephen since we were looking at his tablet, it felt like he was in the front of my classroom teaching a lesson. I loved how when my students obsessed about his software and his tablet he reminded them that really, pencil and paper was all that they needed. And what I want to make sure Stephen realizes is how inspirational he was to a group of fifth graders. Our visit was Wednesday and the kids haven’t stopped drawing since we met.

Stephen’s Skype visits are closed for now but he might open them up again in the future. If he does, jump on it. I highly, highly recommend it. Also, my students, my own children, and I all recommend the amazing series Mal and Chad. They are a great pair of friends that your kids will be glad to know.