Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

November 20, 2011

Author Skypes Middlebury third-graders

MIDDLEBURY — It was definitely too expensive to fly 30 students to Denver to meet one of their favorite authors and it was still too expensive to fly one very popular writer to Orchardview Elementary in Middlebury.

However, Principal Brian Sloan figured out how to make the meeting happen.

Through the Internet, phone calls, a Promethean board and Skype, Sloan brought author Avi to Orchardview for an hour. It was the school’s first foray into distance learning.

The idea came to Sloan several months earlier.

“I like to get into the classroom as much as possible,” Sloan said. “I asked some of the third-grade teachers if I could come into their classrooms and read aloud.”

One of Sloan’s favorite authors is Avi. The author of more than 60 books, winner of the Newberry Award, two Newberry Honor books, three Boston Globe-Horn Book awards and several other awards and honors, Avi’s works have been read by thousands of children and adults around the world.

But Sloan didn’t read one of the more popular books to the students.

“I chose a book he wrote called ‘Something Upstairs,’” Sloan said. “I got turned on to it by an English professor when I was at Ball State (University).”

Sloan wanted to get them hooked, not just on this author, but on reading in general.

The results were exciting for any teacher, principal or librarian.

“They liked the book so much, they were going to the library and taking out every book from Avi that we had,” Sloan said.

Sloan wanted to expand on that excitement. He helped the students in discussions about the book, feeling it had some very teachable issues. But he wanted to take it a step further.

“I visited the author’s website last year and I found out that he did Skype visits,” Sloan said. “I contacted the intermediary and found out he only Skyped to fourth grades and above.”

He didn’t let his idea go.

“I said, ‘Look, here’s the story we are reading. It’s one of his older stories and I don’t think it’s one he gets asked to talk about much,’” Sloan said. “I shared with them why and what we were doing and the caliber of students we have here and how very excited they were.”

Avi agreed to go one grade level lower. Less than a month ago, Avi arrived via technology.

The students had carefully prepared questions in advance.

“They got to stand up and ask a question and he got to see them and the students could see him, of course,” Sloan said.

Some of the third-graders asked Avi specific questions about the book. They wanted to know about the house where the setting took place.

“I Google-mapped it from street view,” Sloan said. “The house was in Rhode Island.”

The class found out that Avi had lived in the house where “Something Upstairs” takes place.

Other questions were more general. Students wanted to know how he became a good writer and how they could become good writers.

Nine-year-old Terry Bloss found out that Avi takes about one year to write a book, making 60 or 70 drafts before the finished work.

Abigail Checkley wanted to know what medium he used to write.

“He told me he used to use a typewriter and paper and pencil,” she said. “Now he works on a computer — but he still uses a pencil and paper.”

Third-grader Elsa Fretz loves to write and said she was inspired by some of Avi works.

“They gave me ideas for my books,” Fretz said. “I have one fantasy that’s 11 pages long.”

Quite a few students wanted to know if “Avi” was the author’s real name. It turns out that his twin sister gave Edward Irving Wortis his nickname when just a year old.

Even Principal Sloan had a question for the author.

“I asked him he was ever approached for a movie deal,” Sloan said. “He told me, ‘frequently.’ However he said he tells them he wants no part of it. …he wants to be writing books.”

 So far no one has followed up after he tells them that.”

Sloan and the students found that the hour went by very quickly.

“He was gracious and open to any question,” Sloan said. “I would definitely like to do this again in the spring. But this time I would like to give all the third-graders that same opportunity.”

Text Only
Breaking News
  • Clinton Frame leaving IN-MI Mennonite Conference over same-sex marriage

    After nearly 100 years of being in the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, Clinton Frame Mennonite Church officials announced it will be leaving because of the controversy related to same-sex marriage.

    July 24, 2014

  • Red D Mart armed robbery New Paris Police ask for public's help in identifying would-be robber

    Elkhart County police have released still photos captured from video of the man who attempted to hold up Red D Mart gas station, 68310 Ind. 15, New Paris, on Saturday, July 19.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Red Cross in urgent need of donors

    The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.

    July 23, 2014

  • Huron Street residents under boil order

    Tuesday morning, Goshen water crews shut down the water main on Huron Street to replace a broken fire hydrant.
    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requires the Water Utility to issue a boil water order for the affected area, which is Huron Street from West Lincoln to Pike Street.

    July 23, 2014

  • GN140723 CR34-Ind. 13 Crash 1 LaGrange man airlifted from scene of crash A motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash at Ind. 13 and C.R. 34 at 1:48 p.m. Tuesday. Terry Fry, 44, LaGrange, was airlifted by MedFlight from the scene. Elkhart County police said he was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital with fractures to

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspicious blinking package with battery pack causes police to evacuate business area

    A package with a battery pack and a blinking red light found on the desk of an employee at MSC, 28551 Laura Court, Elkhart, caused police and firefighters to evacuate the area this morning.
    The package turned out to be a GPS tracking device and not a bomb.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cat beaten to death in burglary

    A house cat was found beaten to death following a burglary at a home in Howe Sunday.

    July 21, 2014

  • GN140721 Kosciusko Fatal Photo #2.jpg Fiery crash kills one, critically injures two in North Webster

    A fiery crash in North Webster left a Pennsylvania man dead and two others critically injured at 3:21 p.m. Sunday on Ind. 13, near Esterbrook Drive.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • GN140719 obit mcdaniel Jeanine M. McDaniel OSCEOLA — Jeanine M. McDaniel, 61, died Thursday afternoon at Elkhart Hospice House. She was born Feb. 16, 1953 in Noble County, to Everett and Nyra Lucille (Reynolds) McDaniel. Surviving are two sisters, Patty (William) Wray, Paducah, Ky. and Bever

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140718 Rosalie Bontrager senior fair queen.jpg Bontrager wins senior queen title

    Rosalie Bontrager was crowned senior fair queen at the grandstand at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Friday morning, July 18, 2014.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results