This webquest is designed to help prepare students for an upcoming school author visit. We know that when students have read an author's books and are familiar with his/her life, then the author visit is more memorable, and it has the desired impact of encouraging reading, stimulating writing, sparking creativity and broadening horizons in our students.
Through this webquest, in addition to researching the author's life and background, students will become more familiar with his books. Teachers should have on-hand in the classroom as many of Roland's books as possible in addition to the class collection. These extra books can be requested from the public library or checked out from the school library.
Students are guided in how to research and record factual information. They synthesize their research by writing an introduction and use higher order thinking skills to make connections and formulate questions to ask the author during an interview.
* Teachers should emphasize to students that in this Ask Roland Smith webquest, a * signals an important message or an assignment must be done.
The target audience is 5th and 6th grade students.
Minimal computer skills are required.
Two or three class sessions will be needed to complete this project.
A classroom wiki should be set-up to allow students to record their questions. In this way students will be able to read the questions of other students, too. Ultimately the class, as a whole, could distill their individual lists to 6 class questions that they would like to ask Mr. Smith. He might be able to answer these when he visits during the presentations, during the author-student lunch discussion sessions, or during the videotaped interview. If your school is unable to host the author in person, these questions could be e-mailed to the author.
Teachers will decide whether students will work alone, in pairs or in small groups. If students work with others, they may think more deeply about some of the posed questions, and they will have the benefit of sharing their ideas and learning from each other.
After the students have completed the webquest and have become familiar with the author's background and books, they could take turns role playing interviewer and author / interviewee to practice and reinfore what they have learned in this webquest and to strengthen their communication skills.
It is a good idea for teachers to check-in with students as they work, to help guide students and to keep them on track with the webquest. By their interest in what the students are finding, teachers can build enthusiasm for the upcoming author visit. Teachers can specifically offer suggestions research skills and introduction and question writing.
Finally, here are two resources that will help teachers work with students on developing good questioning skills.