Skyping in Mike Artell- Illustrator & Author

Mike Artell, illustrator, cartoonist and author of several children’s books, has contacted me because he read (on Langwitches) about the fantastic connections my school is making via Skype.

He offered to “visit” us as well, via Skype:

I’m very interested in seeing how we might be able to work-in some drawing instructions when I visit with the kids. I can have an easel and tablet available and I can show them how to draw.

Mike and I skyped ahead of time to make sure that webcam and audio worked. We also wanted to test if his easel, paper and marker would be clearly visible for our students to follow along.

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6th grade teacher, Mrs. M.  prepared hers students for his visit by pre-viewing some of his books

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and listening to Mike read Petite Rouge (The Cajun version of Little Red Riding Hood), which I found on YouTube and downloaded to our server ahead of time.

When the big day came, Mike started his visit out with answering a few questions students had prepared ahead of time.

The main message Mike passed on was that when drawing cartoons, the most important thing is humor, not your drawing ability.

It set the tone for students who might have been a little insecure about their drawing.

Mike talked the students who were sitting with clipboards and paper and pencil all around the room through how to draw different emotions, animals and how to personalize letters. He made them Ooohh and Ahhh when he showed them how to draw heads from different perspectives.

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We used our Flip Camcorder to record parts of the visit.  Students were hanging on Mr. Artell’s every word and we heard whispers like:

How cool.

This is so cute.

Wow.

Mike had the students mesmerized.  Several students were able to ask him how to draw something specific, such as a dog, chicken or a person running.  Mike improvised and made responses personal by calling students by their first name.

Although Mike was speaking from the “other side” of a webcam and screen, it did not feel “unreal”. The connection, video and sound quality were excellent. He was “just” another person in the room teaching by showing, answering questions, encouraging and responding and reacting to one of the students sneezing :)

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Video Conferencing (via Skype) is a great alternative to allow exposure to different expert voices and opportunities that otherwise would be impossible due to time, budget or distance.

Field trips and professional development opportunities are usually one of the many things that are reduced or  eliminated at a time when most schools are dealing with budget cuts.

Why not think outside the walls of and for your classroom and imagine inviting an author, artist, musician or other expert in a field or topic that your students are interested in.

Try to contact them and see if they would be interested  in “visiting” you virtually.

The worst that can happen, is that you don’t receive a reply or a “No”. The best that can happen is a “Yes!”.

Thank you to Mike Artell for being the one to take the initiative by contacting me.

I am hooked. Can’t wait to have another opportunity to bring in an expert.

Anyone interested?