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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Connections, and What That Means for Us

Here’s what my week has been — full of hints of how technology is changing (but in small, and interesting, ways) what we do. Monday evening the poets Marilyn Singer and Charles smith came to my Rutgers class by Skype. It all went well — and now that Smart Boards are spreading through the schools, it seems the Skype visit should become a normal part of education. Here’s one interesting thing about the Skype visit — it is more one-to-one than an author visit. When an author comes to a class s/he is in front speaking to everyone — we all see the author from some distance — the relationship is one (author) to many (the class). But on screen the author is larger than life, and it is more as if s/he is speaking directly to you, to one individual. The other day when I Skyped in to an 8th grade class, the students came to the screen one by one to ask questions — and in a way that is right. I was speaking to each of them more so than to all of them. That is worth keeping in mind — that glitchy as the transmission can be, in a way it creates the opportunity for more one to one direct contact rather than (0r along with) one to many lectures.

Yesterday,, the music and dance website Marina and I created to go with our book, went live. This is our experiment with making music and video available for readers who want to go beyond what they read on the pages of the book. It has been a long haul, there were decisions, permissions, tech work — and I have no idea how well it will work. But I was thrilled to have the chance to create in a new dimension — to add another way of speaking to the art and text we put on the pages. And I just love hearing the music — that is just fun, a secret pleasure.

Yesterday also I began another week of teaching at the Davidson Institute — that is the online school for gifted kids. The fun part is that I am working with kids all over the country who are linked only by their intelligence and their interests. So many of them spoke of loving history — as of course I do. So often we hear about kids who are resistant, or having trouble, or need help. Of course we need to find bridges for those students. But it is so much fun to just think with, and challenge, kids who can go with you. And the internet means they can be anywhere.

Somewhere in here is the beginning of a model where we who write are in touch with kids anywhere, where we share our work and passions with them, they learn from us but also teach us about their interests and tastes, and we have at our fingertips words, images, print, but also audio, video, animation — and go in search of knowledge.