Friday, March 2, 2012

My Very First Author Visit

What better day to do my very first author visit than on Dr. Seuss' birthday and on Read Across America?

Now granted, I had an 'in' as I visited my twin daughters first grade classes, but you have to start somewhere.

When I got to school I walked past one of the classes and peeked in the window without my kids seeing me, and they were all wearing red and white striped hats in honor of the Cat in the Hat.  I felt a huge smile across my face, and I suddenly had a craving for green eggs.

I became a little bit nervous.  I shouldn't have been nervous . . . I am a former elementary school teacher, I have 4 kids of my own, and I know most of these kids already.  But here I was, about to publicly share my book for the first time in it's completed format.  I was not reading to my family.  I was not reading to my friends.  I was reading to an audience filled with people that were my target audience when writing the book.  What if it was to be a flop?  I know Dr. Seuss, I needed to get on my way and move some mountains!  I went inside.

What book did I share?  My only published book to date. . .Annie and Me, a book that I published with the help of amazing illustrator, Barb Dragony, and uTales!  Can you believe it?  I did an author visit with an e-book.  Never in a million years did I think that I would be doing that when I started on this writing journey so many years ago.

My children are very fortunate to attend a school that is technologically advanced, and they have SMART  Boards in almost every classroom.  For those of you not familiar with a SMART Board, it looks like a dry erase board, but it requires special pens for writing. It also can be connected to a computer and whatever is on your computer screen can be projected onto the board.  It has a sound system, and you can even touch the board as if it were a touch pad on your computer.  We projected the story onto the SMART Board, the classes sat on the floor, and I shared with them.

The children loved the animations, loved the illustrations, and loved the sounds.  Teachers and children alike were asking wonderful questions about the book writing process in general, but also about the specifics of digital publishing, and uTales.  They were amazed that this is how they could read a book, and they wanted to know how they could get the app at home.

One little boy asked how I was able to get the book into the computer.  Fortunately, I have another book that is in the editing process on uTales right now, and I was able to give the class a sneak peak as to how it works.  I showed them how to enter the text, and how the illustrator uploads the images.  They enjoyed seeing some images still in sketch form, and some in full color.  I think that they don't always realized that a book doesn't start out looking like it does when you check it out at the library.

Before I even had my coat on to leave, the first graders were lined up in front of their teacher as she wrote down the uTales website on sticky notes for each one of them.  I could see her wheels turning as she was figuring out ways to make use of this technology in teaching reading in her classroom.  One of the teaching assistants was so fascinated by the whole process that she said she would recommend that I come to other classes in the school at all grade levels (school is K-8).  Wouldn't it be great if we could inspire even just one child who has an interest in writing?

Thank you uTales for helping me to achieve my dream of being a children's author.

Thank you Dr. Seuss for inspiring so many authors, illustrators, and especially children.  We are all thrilled to have celebrated your 108th birthday with you today as we Read Across America.


24 comments:

  1. Great idea to use the smartboard! Congratulations on your first author visit! Very cool!

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    1. Thank you Eric! It was a lot of fun to do. I hope that I get the chance to do another one soon.

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  2. HOw totally awesome! Congrats on a successful first visit! And I've got to tell you, I think I would have enjoyed your presentation, seeing how all the digital stuff works! I'm interested in trying uTales, but I feel very out of my depth!

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    1. Thank you Susanna! uTales is definitely not out of your range. Take a look at it and watch the 'How To' videos. They are very clear, and just play around with it. I think that you will enjoy it.

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  3. How exciting! Congratulations on your first school visit. I've had my first this year too. Not in my kids' classrooms but in their school. As you said, you have to start somewhere, and why not where you already have an "in." It's so rewarding isn't it?

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    1. It was great Julie! Congrats on yours as well. May they keep happening!

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  4. How wonderful, Sandi, to inspire this class + the teacher using your e-book! Congratulations!

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  5. I'm so happy for you that it worked out so well. Funny, because next week I'm invited to the school where I taught for 35 years, also for Dr. Seuss/Read Across America (but they're on vacation this week) for my first official author visit and I'm nervous, too! You wouldn't think I would be, but as teachers, we want to inspire and captivate our audience and that's hard to do. So, I'll think of you and your success as I prepare to stand up in front of all those students staring up at me with anticipation. And one day, I know you'll have a hardcover book to add to your successes. If you keep at it, it will happen!

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    1. Good luck next week! Take a deep breath, and you will do great! Congratulations, and keep u s posted on how it goes.

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  6. Brilliant. And how cool that you could show the process a bit, too! I have used the Smart Board to read a story to the entire elementary school, Pre-K - 5, and it was a real success; I can't wait to try this out as an author. Thanks for passing along your idea! Looking forward to your next book;

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    1. Thanks. Those SMART Boards are amazing. I wish that I would have had one when I was teaching. We had a chalk board and needed to clap the erasers.

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  7. Congratulations Sandi, that is awesome. Loved that the kids and teachers were so into your story and the way you presented it to them.
    Tell me with uTales do you have to have an illustrator already lined up or do you just submit your ms in and wait and see what happens?
    Would love to have a look at it but very nervous about it, like Susanna I think it is way over my head.

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    1. It is definitely not over your head. If you can use a computer, you can use uTales. I found an illustrator through the FB uTales Collaborators page. Just post that you are looking for someone, and they will find you. Also, take a look at the How To videos. I found them to be very helpful.

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  8. What a wonderfully successful first school visit, Sandi! Thank you for sharing it with us. I'd never thought of using a Smart Board in conjunction with e-books. What a fantastic application of an app! I can imagine the teacher's mind-gears clicking over at a great rate.

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    1. Thank you Beth. It was a great day!

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  9. Don't know why I didn't leave a comment earlier when I read this. This was excellent Sandi. So enjoyed reading all about your first visit. I know here in NZ it is expected that authors visit schools and they are even scheduled in automatically by the schools. I remember being told this at my first local SCBWI conference here. Thanks for sharing.... loved that they use boards.... very cool.

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  10. Congrats!sounds like it was a great success!how wonderful!!so proud of you!!!!

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    1. Thank you Claudia. Won't it be fun when we do it together in Israel?

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  11. Wow! What a wonderful school visit...so techie, huh! We'll probably all experience that in time.
    I read in first grade for Dr Seuss day and was nervous too. I find first graders the most curious and smartest of all the lower grades. They know a lot, but not everything, so still want to question and learn.

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    1. I am so glad that you read too! First graders amazing (and not just because I have 2 of them at home). They are sponges just ready to absorb everything, and reading is what they want to do more than anything else.

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  12. That sounds like a very successful first author visit. Well done! Using a smart board for ebooks (eg: uTales) is a brilliant idea!

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  13. Congrats on your first school visit and how cool that you could use the smart board for your story!

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  14. Thanks for sharing your first author visit Sandi. That was so interesting to hear how you did it escpecially now that I have this published eBook that I had no clue on how I would go about sharing mine. Very excited that you posted this! Thanks again.

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