Westside Neighborhood School Students Skype With Author Annabel Monaghan

Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 8:31:00 AM

Mitch James

Westside Neighborhood School 6th, 7th and 8th grade students had a conversation with young adult author, Annabel Monaghan, using the magic of technology earlier this month.

By using a Smartboard and Skype, Monaghan, the author of "A Girl Named Digit," who lives in Rye, New York, was seen and heard by the WNS students as though she was in the classroom on Jan. 23.

The students had read her book for a winter reading assignment and had many questions about her work.

All middle school students had the opportunity to choose from a variety of books and participate in a book group discussion with their peers and teachers.

The students in this group were drawn to the main character’s love of math, and the thrilling nature of the narrative.

These students thought they were just coming to their book group to discuss the book with their teachers, Caitlin Barry and Liz Campbell.

However, the teachers surprised them by having the author of their book, Annabel Monaghan, join them live, in their classroom, for a conversation— thanks to some digital magic using Skype.

The WNS students, under the guidance of their teachers Ms. Barry and Mrs. Campbell, generated a series of questions for Monahan about her inspiration for the story, the process she used to write the book and other details about being an author.

Monaghan shared behind-the-scenes information, such as how she created the main character and how she chose the villain’s name.

Monaghan explained that she had thought about the idea for three years and then took another year to write the book.

She described the publishing process, including how she worked with very detail-oriented editors who noticed every tiny mistake. Monaghan also told the students about her soon to be published sequel, "Double Digit."

At the end of the Skype session, there were a lot of “wows' and “that’s so cool' coming from the WNS students.

Speaking directly with a published author brought the writing process alive for the students, and connected them with their book at a much deeper level than any of them imagined when they first walked through the door that afternoon.

Their teachers, Ms. Campbell and Ms. Barry, reflected on the author’s conversation with their students:

“We’re certain that this is a unique experience the students will always remember," they said. "We know we will.”

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