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The Author, Specialist, Knowledge (ASK) Program



The ASK Program, (Authors Specialist, and Knowledge), provides students with the opportunity to ask questions to an author or a educational subject specialist in the topic they are reading about in the novel. The program uses excellent children's literature, journal writing and interviewing via interactive video conferencing to promote reading for a deeper understanding, comprehension and text to self.

2018 - 2019 MISD ASK Full Description Schedule is here! This schedule has been updated 11/12/18

The purpose of the program is to take readers beyond the confines of a novel, relating the information from their reading in a personal way to their own immediate situation. As part of the process, readers draw on their own writers' voice, as they journal through their reading.

This program allows students to ask questions to the author of a book or an educational specialist in the subject of the book. You should follow the ASK program steps in which you can review the steps or watch the ASK video provided in your kit of materials you will receive when you register for a program. Classes that follow this process do a better job with the interview then students who just read the book and make up questions.

The ASK Program, (Authors Specialist, and Knowledge), provides students with the opportunity to ask questions to an author or a educational subject specialist in the topic they are reading about in the novel. The program uses excellent children's literature, journal writing and interviewing via interactive video conferencing to promote reading for a deeper understanding, comprehension and text to self.

The ASK program (Authors, Specialist, and Knowledge) developed by Dr. Raymond Kettel from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Each semester as part of an undergraduate Literature for Children and Youth class, the  participants include university students, as well as later elementary through high school students depending on the selected literature work. The purpose of the program is to take readers beyond the confines of a novel, relating the information from their reading in a personal way to their own immediate situation. As part of the process, readers draw on their own writers' voice, as they journal through their reading.

Interviews are conducted with authors of children's books and with "specialists" whose occupations, interest and experiences bring credibility or a better understanding to a particular literature selection. The interview focus from these books has been on such social issues as ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, homelessness in America, the Vietnam War, media responsibility, racial prejudice and animal rights. In addition to these social issues, through interviewing authors, readers are able to explore such evaluative literary aspects as the development of character, plot, setting, theme and writing style. The following children's books have been selected in past interviews: The Devil's Arithmetic, Charlie Pippin, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, Monkey Island, Nothing but the Truth, Maniac Magee, Wringer, Circle of Gold, Adem's Cross, and Julie of the Wolves. Through the interviewing steps of the ASK program, students develop questions to be asked of either the selected author or specialist. The interviews are held on the university campus or one of the metropolitan area schools or county teacher centers referred to as Intermediate School Districts (ISDs). Two ASK programs with Newbery authors will be featured at the Michigan Reading Association in March, 2000.

Recently, most of the interviews have been conducted using distance learning technology, connecting authors and specialists brought to campus with sites in the metropolitan area. The ASK process is learned through in-service workshops presented at the school site, county ISD's, at conferences or on the university campus. In some instances, university students who have been trained in the program, visit selected schools and work with teachers and their students preparing them for planned interviews.

Please Note: The Author, Specialist, and Knowledge program allows students to ask questions to the author of a book or an area specialist(s) in the subject of the book. You should follow the ASK program steps in which you can review the steps or watch the ASK video provided in your kit. Classes that follow this process do a better job with the interview then students who just read the book and make up questions.

Who Will the Students ask questions to?  You may not be asking questions to the author of the book. (See the “Information about the Specialist” or “Information about the Author” tab in the teacher resource notebook/packet you receive with the books) It will contain information about the author or educational specialist the students will be asking questions to. It also contains background information about the organization that the specialist is representing.

Additional Resources  The notebook has supplemental lesson plans, activities, web and video resources, background information on the subject of the book along with newspaper clippings or other items of interest. A video or poster may also accompany the books. These supplemental materials are only supplemental. It is up to you whether or not these items are appropriate for your students and curricular goals.

More information about Dr. Raymond Kettel from the School of Education, University of Michigan - Dearborn. Biography of Dr. Raymond Kettel.

In the Beginning... The Author, Specialist, Knowledge Creation by Dr. Raymond Kettel

Here are a few articles that Dr. Kettel had written when he first came up with the concept of the Author, Specialist, Knowledge program back in 1998 to 2000. Very interesting articles on his questioning techniques and the outcome of his interview.

Interview with author Jerry Spinelli

Interview with Holocaust Survivor Dr. Jack Wayne

Interview with author Christopher Paul Curtis

Before you register you should read the program descriptions that is below as well as the guidelines.

Please read the following carefully before you register:

  • An ASK session is designed for one classroom of students (30-35 students). We will be connecting a maximum of three classes per session to the program. Most of the programs are one hour long except for some of the picture book programs which are 45 minutes long. The three classes will ask questions in an "round robin" fashion until time runs out or the students are out of questions.

  • Each teacher should complete their own individual registration. This is very important so that when the materials are shipped, you will receive them directly to save time. The author/specialist is also given a schedule of what teacher participates at what time so that they know who they are connecting with.

  • You should review the book. To obtain a copy of the book for review contact Denise Jobe at DJobe@misd.net.

  • You must use e-mail if you wish to participate in this program. That is the way we will confirm your participation, send reminders and contact you.

  • ASK Programs are free to you but they are not free. The MISD pays a fee to our authors and specialists. Therefore cancellation after the materials have been shipped to you will result in your school being assessed a $40.00 fee. You will be notified by a "reminder" e-mail before the materials are to be shipped with withdrawal instructions, if we don't hear from you then we assume you are participating in the program and materials will be shipped to you. It is important to note we want your participation, not your money. We usually have a waiting list for these programs.

Registrations are on a first come first serve basis.

I will delete duplicate requests so please do not register for another teacher unless you put in their name and email address.

READ YOUR EMAILS CAREFULLY!! Yes, sometimes you will be put on the waiting list or rejected for a program. Do not assume that you have been confirmed for the program! PLEASE read your emails.

Check your school Calendar. You will be charged a $40.00 fee if materials were sent to you then you have to cancel from the program or do not participate on the date of the program.

The Original Concept of the ASK program written by Dr. Raymond Kettel.

Encourage students to move beyond basic reading comprehension. Get them to tie what they are reading to their own lives and experiences, self to text.

  1. If desired, hang the posters of the journal process in your classroom. You can find this process in the teacher resource notebook. 
  2. Each time students read, they should journal. If it is a chapter book, have them write down page number, their reaction, and questions based on that section. We want students to tie their reading to the interview process.
  3. Write questions that draw out the author or specialist beyond the "generic" author questions they are usually asked, a more in-depth question is what the author/specialist is expecting. Have the student ask the author/specialist to explain or describe things they did not understand or are curious about from the book.

In Summary:

Interviews are conducted with authors of children's books and with "specialists" whose occupations, interests and experiences bring credibility or a better understanding to a particular literature selection. The interview focus from these books has been on such social issues as ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, homelessness in America, the Vietnam War, media responsibility, racial prejudice and animal rights. In addition to these social issues, through interviewing authors, readers are able to explore such evaluative literary aspects as the development of character, plot, setting, theme and writing style.

How does this program correlate with the Common Core standards?

The below standards are taken from the ELA Unit Framework from the “A Crosswalk to the Michigan High School ELA Unit Framework and High School Content Expectations Michigan Department of Education.

  • Reading: Text complexity and the growth of comprehension
  • Writing: Text types, responding to reading, and research
  • Speaking and Listening: Flexible communication and collaboration
  • Comprehension and Collaboration
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

The Literature Based Interview Process by Dr. Raymond Kettel, University of Michigan-Dearborn. Dr. Kettel's Original Concept of the ASK Process.

Read the book. For elementary school age students it may be helpful if you read the book to the class while your students read along. You can start with a book your class reads every year, a new book, or a classic. 

Please Note: For the MISD ASK distance learning program there is background information about the author or specialist whom the students will be interviewing that will be in the teacher resource packet/notebook you will be receiving with the books.   

Keep a journal. When you have finished reading for the day, you and your students should individually write down your thoughts. It might be a scene that you can identify with, or an idea that you care about. It might be an event that upsets you or a passage that piques your curiosity. Respond to a part of the story that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you want to keep reading. Don't summarize a segment, but tell how it makes you feel. Enter the world of voice journaling.  It is very important that the teacher model read, journal, and question writing for their students. Share an entry from your journal. Tell them a question you would ask. Modeling what you expect from your students will help your students in their journal entries. As students journal they should look for connections:

Self to Text: Connects of the text to their life. Have they or someone they know had a similar experience.

Text to Information: Have the students read about this topic previously. Have they seen a movie about this.

Another way to help students with their journal entries is to write some entries as a whole group. Below are examples of whole group journal entries done by Ms. Burnett's class, Mt. Clemens Middle School that read the book "Bud, Not Buddy" by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Journal Example 1

Journal Example 2

Journal Example 3

Write questions. When you have finished reading the book and made your final journal entries, it will be time to start writing questions. Students should write the chapter and page number that corresponds with each question. By reviewing their journal entries, the students should be able to write questions about those parts of the story that most interested them. The purpose of this exercise is to better understand the story. If you are working with younger students you may wish to encourage them to write questions for each journal entry. Also, you may wish to review what types of questions are appropriate.

Show examples. As the teacher, you should also write some questions and show them to the students so that they can see how it should be done. Try to show connections between the text and yourself or real life. Explain why you are asking the question. What are you trying to learn?

Review the rules for questions.

The answer is not in the book. The question can not be answered with a yes or no answer. The questions should start with... In the book..... On page...... In chapter....

Place the students in pairs and encourage them to select their best four questions. Each pair should select only four questions that will be presented to the class. They should look for the questions they want to ask and questions they think other students won't ask.

Conduct a round robin elimination process. When your students have selected their best four questions, ask each group to read their questions to the class. Eliminate duplicate questions among the groups. This is a good time for you to indicate which questions need to be edited and which questions are in final form.

Revise the questions. When the elimination process is completed, each student should have at least one unique question to ask in the interview. It is okay if the question has been rewritten to include aspects of duplicates that were eliminated. It is better if each student has three questions if you are connecting with another class. That way if the other class asks the first question, they will have another question to ask for a backup.

Place the questions in order. Based on the chapter and page number of each question, place the questions in order so that the interview is being conducted, the class and the author are essentially working through the book. 

Conduct a practice session. Have each student stand and read his or her question in a confident manner. This is very important. This practice session will prepare the students to interview the author or expert. Depending on your distance learning set-up most students will move to a microphone and ask their question. We highly recommend that students not sit on the floor during the interview, auditorium type seating is most appropriate for the students.

Conduct the Interview. One the day of the interview, introduce the author/expert to the class. During the ASK program from the MISD the introduction will be made for you by our host at the MISD. Each student should stand and ask his or her question so that the guest can see and hear the student clearly.  The students should remain standing until his/her question is answered, say thank you, and then return to his/her seat. The author or specialist is your guest. You should request that your students dress as if they were expecting an important guest in their home.  Also remind students of proper behavior. Sitting up, listening carefully, being attentive, saying thank you, etc. Remember the students will be seen at the other sites (schools) and you want your students to give a good representation of you and your school.

Debrief after the interview. Take some time the day after the interview to review and debrief with the students. Ask them what they learned and what they liked about the interview. Some of the interviews may be very emotional. It is important for the students to have time to discuss not only what happened, but how they felt about it. You may want to discuss how your students' questions compared to the other students' questions. What was the best question they heard asked? What questions surprised them the most? What was the worst question and why? What would they like to ask if they could ask another question?

Write a letter of thanks to the author/specialist. The last step in the Project ASK process is having your students write thank you notes to the author or specialist. This could be done in the form of cards, letters, or drawings done as a class or individually. The bottom line of this assignment is teaching the students manners and the value of a “Thank You” that can be an educational lesson in appreciation and letter writing along with enforcing the appreciation for other’s time and effort that was given for such an learning experience. And yes, timeliness is always important when writing a thank-you note.

Cross-curricular extensions. Teachers should of course relate the literature selection to other curricular areas they wish to include such as the arts, creative or expository writing, poetry, mathematics, science, sports, social studies, etc. Poetry is an excellent way for students to express feelings about emotional topics. Community Projects - topics like the homeless, domestic violence and others are an excellent way to get your students involved in a community project. Be sure to check in the teacher resource notebook you receive with the books to see some lessons, activities, web resources or supplemental information about the author, the book or subject of the book.

We are sorry but some files are not yet available as we are redesigning the pdf files to upgrade them for Web Accessibility.

The links below will open in a pdf format or a new webpage

The ASK Rubric is a helpful tool to use with in the ASK process bu keep in mind that the below materials are only SUPPLEMENTAL, they do not have to be used.

All files below are in pdf format, click on the title of the template to open the file.

Basic ASK Guideline Template

Original Concept of the ASK Process by Dr. Raymond Kettel

ASK Rubric & Reading Response Journal Templates

Videoconferencing Waivers

Videoconferencing waiver for students

Videoconference waiver for Adults

ASK Video from YouTube

Who is Dr. Raymond Kettel? Background Information about the Creator of the Author, Specialist, Knowledge program

ASK Literature Process from Dr. Kettel, creator of the Author, Specialist, Knowledge program

ASK Program Evaluation

Student Guidelines on Preparing & Presenting in a Video Conference Program

List of Michigan Authors

How to make your video Conference a Success (for teachers)

ASK Book List complied by Dr. Raymond Kettel, 2017

Videoconferencing Projects Booklet by Janine Lim, Roxane Glaser and Arnie Comer https://files.pbworks.com/download/x5LosuqrA2/collaborativevcs/30633329/ProjectsBooklet.pdf

MICHIGAN RESOURCES

Seeking Michigan "The Mitten" http://seekingmichigan.org/learn/mitten

Wayne RESA Michigan Studies for Teachers http://www.resa.net/curriculum/curriculum/socialstudies/elementary/michiganstudies/

Mackinac Parks Teacher Resources                                                                                                              http://www.mackinacparks.com/more-info/educational-programs/lesson-plans-and-educational-resources/

Lesson Plan Clearinghouse from the Detroit Historical Society http://detroithistorical.org/learn/teacher-portal/lesson-plans

Michigan's Mission: Literacy in Action is based on What Content Area Teachers Should Know About Adolescent Literacy from the The National Institute for Literacy of the US Department of Education with excellent printable templates to help in the classroom. http://missionliteracy.com/literacy-in-action.html

Miscellaneous Web Sites that may be helpful with the ASK Program

Beal Library Catalog for Books and Media
http://www.misd.net/beal/index.html

Share What You're Reading with Scholastic Reviews
http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/swyar/index.asp

Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything http://www.schrockguide.net/

Michigan History Videos from Program Source International http://www.michiganhistoryvideos.com/catalog-2/specials/

Media Links for Free Videos to use in the Classroom

Anneberg Learner Foundation has Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum with free membership you can view educational videos, get pdf lessons, and enjoy the programs for you or your class. However the videos are best viewed from Google Chrome, IE does not support the video playback. http://www.learner.org/resources/browse.html

Janie Lynn Panagopoulos "Traders in Time", Journey Back to Lumberjack Camp", Train to Midnight", Far Away Home: An Orphan Train Story", "A Place Called Home: Michigan's Mill Creek Story" and "Mark of the Bear Claw"
 http://www.jlpanagopoulos.com/

Arthur Brood's web page "The Mud Hole" and "The Snow Car"
http://www.mudholebook.com/ and http://www.thesnowcar.com/

Darien Belcher Jr. (young inspiring author) "The Story of the Curse"  https://thestoryofthecurse.bigcartel.com/ 

Renee Hand's web page for the Crypto Capers & Joe-Joe Nut Series books
http://www.reneeahand.com/

Lori Taylor "HOLLY WILD: The Young GeEK's Guide to Getting Outside" http://loritaylorart.com/ 

Robert A. Lytle web page about his Mackinac Passage Series books and his other books http://robertalytle.weebly.com/ 

Paul LaBaere web page for "Brick by Brick: Building a Family's Mission"
http://www.paullabaerebooks.com/About-the-Author.html

Sue Stauffacher "Donuthead""Harry Sue""Nothing But Trouble""Bessie Smith & the Night Riders""Tillie the Terrible Swede", and "The Animal Rescue Team" series  http://www.suestauffacher.com/

Amy Young "Belinda the Ballerina" series and "The Mud Fairy"  http://amyyoungart.com/

Margaret Willey "Clever Beatrice" books, "Summer of the Silk Moths", and "The 3 Bears and Goldilocks"
http://www.margaretwilley.com/

Laurie Keller "Scrambled States" books and "Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners"   http://www.lauriekeller.com/

Sue Collins Thoms "Cesar Takes a Break"  http://www.susancollinsthoms.com/

Dana Lehman "Adventures at Walnut Grove" and "I Double Dare You" and "I Can Do It" books
http://lehmanpublishing.com/author.php

Ginger Hodge "When Donkey's Fly"  http://whendonkeysflybook.com/

Cheri Hallwood "Winter's First Snowflake", "One Wish for Winifred Witch" and "Frogwilla: A Treefrog's Story"
http://www.foreveryoungpublishers.com/

Chris Crowe "Mississippi Trial, 1955" and "Just As Good: How Larry Doby Changed America's Game" http://chriscrowe.com/ 

Jeffery L. Schatzer "Professor Tuesday’s Awesome Adventures in History Book Three: The Underground Railroad"
 http://fireupknowledge.com/ 

Jim Stovall "The Ultimate Gift"   http://www.jimstovall.com/

Lisa Wheeler "Old Cricket"  http://www.lisawheelerbooks.com/LW/home.html

Denise Brennan-Nelson "Willow", Maestro Stu Saves the Zoo", and "Leopold the Lion" http://www.denisebrennannelson.com/books/

Johnathan Rand "Michigan Chillers: Great Lakes Ghost Ship", "Michigan Chillers: Dinosaurs Destroy Detroit", and "American Chillers: Virtual Vampires of Vermont" http://www.americanchillers.com/

Karen Bell-Brege "Mick Morris Myth Solver #1: All Isn't Well in Roswell!" http://monstermyths.com/

Greg Schindler "Timmy and the Hot Dog Song" http://www.g-a-schindlerauthorpage.com/banana--hotdog.html

The Buffalo Zoo http://www.buffalozoo.org/ for Polar Bear, Animals in Winter, Cool Summer Tail

National Weather Service - Pontiac/Detroit Office http://www.weather.gov/dtx/office3 for "Night of the Twisters"

J. W. Westcott Mail Boat http://www.jwwestcott.com/ for "Mail by the Pail" with Captian Sam Buchanan and another good link for this is the Boatnerd http://www.boatnerd.com/ 

Vietnam Veteran's Memorial http://www.thewall-usa.com/ "The Wall" we use a Vietnam veteran for this program

Author of "The Breadwinner" http://deborahellis.com/ but we use a Afghanistan Refugee for this program. Read this article about the specialist, Parwin Anwar at http://www.macombdaily.com/article/MD/20160318/NEWS/160319661

Center of Science & Industry (COSI) presents our Gadget Works: Forces & Motion interactive distance learning program http://cosi.org/educators/interactive-videoconferencing/item/gadget-works-2?category_id=47 

"Melvin Fargo Writes to Argue and Persuade" by Lisa Rivard http://partnerspublishersgroup.com/titleinfo.php?isbn=9781938326233  

Troy Stage Nature Center for the book "The Book of North American Owls"  https://troynaturesociety.org/ 

Leslie Science & Nature Center affliated with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum for the book "Stellaluna" https://www.lesliesnc.org/outreach 

For the Love of Books

Accelerated Reader: Searching for Accelerated Reader books is fun and easy with this free online tool. http://www.arbookfind.com/UserType.aspx

 If one of the ASK program books does not have a AR Quiz you can suggest the book to have one at http://www.renaissance.com/customer-center/suggest-quizzes

The Lexile Measurement: Matching Readers with Texts https://www.lexile.com/

Michigan Authors, Illustrators & New Books! Some of the finest children's literature in the country is created by Michiganders!

Great Lakes Great Books from Michigan Reading Association