Live in Tokyo: Alan Gratz!

>> Thursday, June 11, 2009

Last week I got to talk live to a group of students in Tokyo, Japan, about Samurai Shortstop! Not live in person, unfortunately, but live via an online Skype connection. At 10:30 p.m. my time (11:30 a.m. the next morning Tokyo-time), select students from the American School in Japan sat around a computer in their classroom and posed questions to my Max Headroom-like mug on a screen.

The virtual visit was the culmination of a month of online interaction between me and the students. The entire seventh grade at ASIJ read Samurai Shortstop for class, and then posted to one of six different creative blogs set up to test their knowledge on the book. The students could come up with chapter titles, write haiku, compare figures in modern baseball to figures in Meiji-era baseball, write the opening of a Samurai Shortstop sequel, write a newspaper article about something that happened in the book, or pitch a new novel idea to me. I checked in to read the blogs throughout the month and replied to their posts, and at the end selected what I thought were the best entries in each section. One of things I got to do in the Skype chat was to announce the winners.

Chris Rose, the great guy who put all this together at ASIJ, also edited together a side-by-side video of me and the students doing the Q&A, starting with the video above and continuing in the videos below. The picture on my end is grainy--I don't know what's up with that, since I could see them just fine, and every time I practiced this with my dad in Tennessee he told me I looked crystal clear. Maybe it's something to do with it being an overseas connection--but why one would look sharp and the other not is odd. Anyhow, with schools being even more strapped for cash lately, I think this might be a really viable way to do school visits here and around the world on the cheap. If you want to arrange a virtual visit with me, drop me a line! In the meantime, check out my Skype chat with the students at the American School in Japan....


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