Skype virtual school visits

Skype sessions are a great way for me to read one of my books to school children and answer some of their questions without me having to spend any time travelling - and they have a lot less impact on my carbon footprint than a regular school trip!

My school Skype sessions are completely FREE!

Schools can choose readings from the selection of books shown below. Click on a cover to find out more about a book. If there’s a book you’d particularly like me to read that isn’t shown below, I’d be happy to consider it.

Borks Ribbit wanda wallaby Foxes
How the
Borks Became
An Adventure
in Evolution
Prince
Ribbit
The Princess
and the Pig
Here Be
Monsters
Pigs
Might Fly!
The Clockwork
Dragon
The Silver
Serpent Cup
Cleopatra Bones
and the Golden
Chimpanzee
               
The
Santa
Trap
Ruby Flew Too!
(Ruby in Her
Own Time)
Someone
Bigger
 
A Spot of
Bother
Bringing Down
the Moon
Danny
Dreadnought
Saves the World
(Excerpt)
The Emperor's
New Clones
(Excerpt)
Doohickey and
the Robot
(Excerpt)
 

I’m happy to Skype with any English-speaking school in Europe, the US or Canada, providing the session can be done between 9:00am and 4:30pm United Kingdom time on a Wednesday, subject to my availability. If you are not in the United Kingdom, you can use the international time converter here to convert from your local time to UK time.

A session usually lasts around 20 minutes. I have a minimum group size of 10 children for free Skype sessions but I have no maximum group size.

PLEASE NOTE: Skype sessions should not be recorded without my prior permission.

What I do in a Skype session

After saying hello to the class, I do a 5-10 minute reading (the whole of one of my picture books or an excerpt from one of my books for older readers) and then usually spend the remaining time answering the children's questions. However schools may wish to vary the format. Some schools have shown me short a performance or presentation inspired by one of my books. Others have presented the results of votes they'd had on my books, with individual children telling me about their favourite page in their favourite book. Whatever you choose to do, the direct interaction between author and readers will make the session a worthwhile experience.

Booking

Skype sessions need to be booked at least 24 hours in advance. I offer one free session each week of UK term time. Current availability is shown below. The table is updated weekly in term time, with a new slot becoming available every week.

Date (Wednesday)
26 Sep
3 Oct
10 Oct
17 Oct
24 Oct
31 Oct
7 Nov
Availability
Bailey
Elementary,
Florida, US
Lithia Springs
Elementary,
Florida, US
Alcova
Elementary,
Georgia, US
Sessums
Elementary,
Florida, US
Mesty Croft
Academy,
West Mids, UK
Unavailable
Roosevelt
Elementary,
Wisconsin, US
Date (Wednesday)
14 Nov
21 Nov
28 Nov
5 Dec
12 Dec
19 Dec
26 Dec - 2 Jan
Availability
Claywell
Elementary,
Florida, US
Available
Collins
Elementary,
Florida, US
GAMS Tech,
New York, US
Jefferson
Elementary,
Wisconsin, US
Available Unavailable

 

Although I'll accept repeat bookings, individual schools are limited to one session per year. I reserve the right to cancel a booking in case of illness or to accommodate work commitments. In such cases I'll endeavour to give schools notice at the earliest opportunity and offer to reschedule at another date.

What you need for a Skype session

Technical Requirements

  • HARDWARE: A computer (Mac or Windows) with a broadband connection, a webcam and a microphone.

  • SOFTWARE: If you don’t already have it, you’ll need to install Skype on your computer and set up an account. You can download Skype for free here. Please note: you will need to use the separate Skype app rather than the "Skype for business" web browser app as I have had connection problems using "Skype for business."

  • WEBCAM: The webcam should be positioned as close as possible to the screen the children will be looking at, so that I can see the children's faces looking towards me.

  • VISION: Ideally the computer should be connected to a large TV screen or white board projector, but as long as there is a screen of some sort that the children can see me on this is not essential. If you're using a projector in a brightly lit room, it's a good idea to turn off the lights or close the blinds near the screen or whiteboard so that the children can see me more clearly.

  • SOUND: Sound is important! The children will need to be able to hear me clearly. Your computer’s built-in speakers may not be loud enough for my voice to carry to the back of the room, so you might need to use some louder, plug-in speakers or the TV’s speakers if you’re using a TV screen.

PLEASE NOTE: I don’t have time to offer technical assistance, so if you are new to Skype please make sure that you have Skype installed and you have familiarised yourself with how to use it by making some video calls BEFORE you book a virtual visit with me. If you are intending to use external sound and video and have not done this before, it’s a good idea to test these in advance too.

 

Other Requirements

  • At least one copy of the book I’m going to be reading: This is essential for picture books as half of their appeal comes from the illustrations, so I like to have someone beside the screen holding up the book and turning the pages so the children can see the pictures as I’m reading on screen.

  • Some questions prepared in advance: There will be time for a quick Q&A session after the reading. To get the most out of this, please make sure that the children have some questions prepared in advance.

  • A room full of enthusiastic children: Children will enjoy a Skype session much more if they are already familiar with my books and are anticipating the visit. Arrange for the library service to provide you with a selection of my books before the visit – or you might even buy a few. Set up a book display in your classroom. Feature the visit as an upcoming event in school newsletters and include the address of my web site. Click here to download a PDF virtual visit poster to print out and publicise the visit.
Portrait

BOOK SALES: While book sales are not a requirement, if you'd like to order copies of my books from a book shop to coincide with my virtual visit you can use this book list / order form to do so. I'm happy to send out signed book plates (shown opposite) for any books purchased in this way.

Skype School
Skyping with Elm Hill School in Vermont …

Stephens Elemetary
… and Stephens Elementary in Kentucky

 

Feedback from schools

"The Skype session was fantastic and the children really enjoyed it … I would certainly recommend it to other teachers."

Cossington C of E Primary School,
Leicestershire, UK

"The students all said how fun and exciting it was … for them to be able interact with a living, published author meant so much. I think it did a lot to bring reading and writing alive for them."

Morey Public School
Michigan, US

"We thought the session was fantastic -
just what we needed, a real life author
to give out the messages we
continually say."

Corrie Primary School,
Manchester, UK

"What a great experience! The students and teachers loved it! Teachers felt it set them up for their writing instruction."

Lynch Elementary School,
Massachusetts, US

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