Technology connects East Coloma class with author

ROCK FALLS – Fourth-graders in Chrissy Murphy’s class at East Coloma Elementary are reading “Blended,” a story about an 11-year-old named Izzy who is dealing with her parents’ divorce and a biracial identity and written by Sharon M. Draper.

Friday, they had a chance to talk about the book with someone who knows a lot about it: Draper herself.

“It was neat for me, too, connecting with the author, because they had so many questions in their head for her and they were so excited to be able to talk to the person who wrote this book,” Murphy said.

Last year, Murphy had another a local author come to her class to to talk to the talk to junior high students was teaching at the time, but because COVID-19 has closed the school to visitors, Murphy had to turn to technology.

“I wanted to switch something up to give them something to get excited about,” Murphy said. “They’re fourth-graders, and they are growing so much and learning new things with technology ... so in my head I felt I wanted to contact the author.”

Now that she knows how to set up a virtual talk with an author, Murphy sees it as something she could implement in her teaching even after the pandemic.

“The author I brought in last year, obviously it had to be someone local,” Murphy said. “So this was a great opportunity for me, especially since we can’t have people in the school, and [Draper] was more than happy to do this for us and said she knows how hard this year has been for the kids.”

Murphy got in touch with Draper a month ago. The class read the book and did some research on her, then came up with a slew of questions.

“She was awesome,” Murphy said. “She used to be a teacher, too, so she was very funny and the kids were laughing, they were having a great time.”

Draper taught in Cincinnati and was the 1997 National Teacher of the Year before embarking on a writing career.