This is my week to plung into teaching. Tuesday through Friday I will be embedded in the Annunciation Orthodox School in Houston, Texas helping 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders work on researching and writing nonfiction papers. This is similar to work I’ve been doing with 9th graders in Bloomington, Illinois. It all came about rather quickly when the author who was slated to come could not make it — this is a wonderful ongoing program the school does. It is also my vision of what should be happening everywhere — the author not just as the creator of the printed book, but the author as the mentor of the process. And then in the evenings I’ll be Skyping back to my graduate library students at Rutgers talking about books for the very kids I will have been teaching during the day.
I am so grateful that schools are beginning to bring nonfiction authors in to work with students and teachers — treating us as human resources, not just the faceless creators of print books. I learn so much in being with the kids, but I also have something fresh to offer. I really can envision a future in which every book we write is part of a continuum in which creating it is shared in Skype and podcasts, the book is sold, then students work with us (as the Blomington group will be in the next week or so) when they hit parts of our book that spark controversy and discussion. Imagine if every nonfiction book came to the library along with instructions on how to reach the author, what he or she is willing to do, a public place to get a rate chart, references, and teacher’s guide materials? What if in addition, every author visit were recorded and uploaded to a growing library of digital recordings of the author working with students — a reference library other teachers and librarians could use. And what if part of what the author helped students to do was create their own original research projects — digital as well as written — that would then be their own expanding gallery. And finally what if those student projects began to be collaborative, as if — say — my Bloomington kids met these Houston kids online and began to work on joint projects.
So cool — and so much opportunity for the librarian to be the facilitator of this stream of interaction that surrounds books. (but I still have to pack)