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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?

Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. I love this idea. Skype is such a great tool to use in classrooms and Skyping in an “Expert” to the classroom so that the students can have a personal conversation is so valuable. I hope other experts are as open to the idea as Mike Artell.
    Thanks for sharing this.
    Lois

  2. David Cosand says:

    I am very excited to tell you that we will be having a Skype session with Mike Artell tommorrow! Reading this blog post inspired me to contact Mike and he has been wonderful to work with.
    My students are currently writing fairy/folk tales modified to a local/regional setting with regionally-appropriate characters. Mike’s Petite Rouge book is a perfect example from which to draw.
    Thank you for the idea and inspiration!

    • Langwitches says:

      The experience with Mike Artell was incredible. I a glad that you were able to connect with him. Authors, artists and any experts like him, who are willing to step out of their comfort zone and try something new that benefits students are to be applauded!

  3. John Ingle says:

    My second grade class had the unique pleasure of Skyping with Mike Artell just this afternoon. He was awesome and a delight with the kids. They were glued to the SmartBoard as Mike started off by introducing himself and giving them a little “cajun” background. He then proceeded to instruct the students through some fun drawing lessons–we didn’t want to hang up! I would like to personally say “Thank You Mike!” for taking the time out of your busy schedule to show us your talents. What a great experience for my class and me!

  4. [...] the success of Skyping in Author and illustrator Mike Artell (from Louisiana) into our sixth grade classes this past February, the fifth grade classes had the [...]

  5. Angie says:

    This brought back such a great memory!!! Both of my kids (now 23 & 25) attended Woodlake Elementary in Mandeville, LA. This was probably around 1994. Mike Artell came to share his enthusiasm with the students in the school’s gym. He was all set up at one end of the gym, the students sitting ‘criss-cross applesauce’ on the gym floor armed with a pencil and paper. Each time Mike Artell drew something, every child bowed down to mimic him. It was nearly a religious experience – not one child misbehaved – not one peep came from their mouths. Every child was drawing!

    At the end of his presentation, he happily autographed a book for my daughter which she still treasures today and my son developed his own snake cartoon series that he worked on for for most of the year.

    I can’t wait until I get back into the classroom in the fall to use Skype. Awesome use of the technology!

  6. [...] I found a wonderful surprise as I scanned my Goodle Reader Feeds that has to deal with cartooning. Langwitches entry spurred such a great memory that I had to post about it. I copied my comment I left at the blog site [...]

  7. [...] Skyping in Mike Artell- Illustrator & Author. This inspirational lesson has an illustrator working directly with 6th graders to work on the art of illustrating and story creation. [...]

  8. [...] Skyping in Mike Artell- Illustrator & Author. This inspirational lesson has an illustrator working directly with 6th graders to work on the art of illustrating and story creation. [...]

  9. [...] Skyping in Mike Artell- Illustrator & Author [...]

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