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Seventh-graders at Faith Middle School spoke with Hanne Moon, published author and owner of Heritage Press Publications, Oct. 11 via Google hangouts as part of their English Language Arts classes.
Bringing a published author into the classroom creates that real-world link to learning. She even knows what the students have been working on, said Dr. Todd Carver, the assistant principal.
Lorri Bach, one of the seventh-grade teachers, met Moon over the summer during a writer's conference.
"She was one of my teachers," said Bach. "Her topic was nonfiction writing, which is an area that tends to give our students trouble." "I wanted to help my students bridge the gap between fiction and nonfiction. In class, they have no trouble using their imaginations to come up with wonderful stories, but they struggle with nonfiction writing," said Bach.
"Students were having trouble introducing the subject and concluding the essay in a powerful way," added Robin Jones, a seventh-grade teacher. "She's working with them on that today. As an expert in her field of writing, she can provide a different insight than we as teachers can."
During the Google hangout, Moon revealed that she grew up a military kid. "I was also a military kid. I moved all over the world," she said.
Moon offered the students insight saying, "Nonfiction is supposed to give information, but it's not supposed to be dull and boring. You can use fiction techniques in your writing to help make a nice nonfiction narrative. We want to show, not tell what you're trying to convey to your reader."
Sean Kerr, a seventh-grader, said that he found the Google hangout interesting.
Kerr revealed that he enjoys the research process of nonfiction writing. "I like finding out about things," he said.
"I like that we got the chance to talk to a published author," added seventh-grader Olivia Andres. "I've been reading textbooks about writing recently and I noticed that there's a difference between what the textbook tells you to do and what writers actually do. It's interesting to talk to an author that's published and owns a company."
Seventh-grader Robin Brough said that she appreciated having the opportunity to speak with a published author. "She's already done this stuff and been through the things that we have. She knows how difficult it is to move and start new thing," she said.
"For me, writing is kind of hard. I have trouble expressing things," Robin added.
Students at Faith Middle School have also participated in Google hangouts with experts from the Smithsonian American Art Museum during their English Language Arts classes.
"We started out with just the Smithsonian," said Cindy Givens, the media specialist. "We now connect with many authors as well as classrooms in other states and countries. Children can talk to one another in real time. We can connect our curriculum to a real person. We are constantly using the technology that is given to us by the Department of Defense Education Activity to its fullest extent."
"This is a way of expanding what they've learned outside of the classroom," added Carver. "Using Google hangouts, we can reach out and connect to anyone, anywhere in the world. We try to do this whenever the opportunity presents itself."