ACSD students meet and learn from published authors ...

Waukon Middle School students in grades six, seven and eight had the opportunity to Skype with author Marsha Skrypuch from Brantford, Ontario in Canada the second week of January. The author visit was made possible through the McElroy Excellence in Education Grant. Allamakee Community School District teacher librarian Lisa Snitker wrote and submitted a proposal to the McElroy Foundation to purchase multiple copies of three of Skrypuch’s novels to create a cross-curricular WWII unit, where students would learn the history and stories surrounding that era. Skrypuch’s novel Making Bombs for Hitler is the State of Iowa Teen Award Winner 2019. The book is extremely popular with young adult readers and the factor that sparked the idea for Snitker to write the grant.

After each grade completed reading the historical fiction novels in their reading classes, students did research on WWII in their Social Studies and English classes. The unit wrapped up with the author visit. Each grade had the opportunity to meet for an hour with Marsha Skrypuch via Skype. Skrypuch shared her experiences interviewing and gathering research for each novel, her life as an author, and her advice for becoming a reader and writer. Students then had the opportunity to ask questions. Pictured below, Waukon Middle School sixth grade student Cole Ottaway speaks with Skrypuch via Skype while students in the audience viewed the conversation on the video screen.

Snitker stated that it was an amazing experience for students to personally meet an author of books they were so interested in. Snitker noted many comments from staff and students about how the cross-curricular unit sparked an interest for reading and learning about historical events. Snitker also appreciated the eagerness shown by fellow staff members to collaborate on the cross-curricular unit. Teachers enjoyed the books and author visit as much as the students. Collaborating teachers included Mary Milewsky, Lee Stegen, Tess Hawes, Bridget Dolan, Ben Lange, Tim Bulman, Jerry Keenan, Tharin Benson and Gail Hillesheim.

The Allamakee Community School District libraries strive to reach, educate and inspire students through visits with outside authors. “We have hosted many wonderful authors throughout the years that spark students’ interest and love of reading,”  Snitker said. Some of the other authors who have visited the schools include Mary Evanson-Bleckwehl, Coach Sloth, Bryan Bliss and Mike Mullin. Coach Sloth is pictured above with students during his author visit at East and West Elementary Schools in Waukon last April.

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