Schools nationwide have struggled with the challenge of how best to open for online instruction, but for students who have internet access, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group is offering four days of instruction taught by a unique set of teachers. From April 27–30, MacKids Streaming Schoolhouse will offer classes for middle graders taught by children’s authors.

The idea for an author-led online school came about in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, said Katie Halata, associate director, school and library at MCPG. “We knew we wanted to look to virtual events and we wanted these events to feel fresh and accessible.” Halata and her team held brainstorming sessions during the first weeks of social distancing in March and landed on the idea of a series of virtual events that were thematically arranged like a school schedule.

The lineup of author/teachers includes Nick Bruel and John Patrick Green teaching art; Angela Dominguez and Maris Wicks giving science lessons; Deborah Heiligman and Karen Blumenthal offering social studies; and Remy Lai and Christian McKay Heidicker teaching language arts. Students can view the schedule and register for free on MacKids’ Streaming School website.

The authors are busy preparing lessons in advance of the schoolhouse events. Macmillan also hosted a trial run for them to practice and become acquainted with the platform, testing audio and visual accessibility. “Each session will be recorded and we’re planning to distribute those files with captioning at the conclusion of the event,” Halata said.

According to Halata, the program is a way for the publishing group to support the educators who are working each day to help their students get online and continue learning during a challenging time. “Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group has always valued our relationship with teachers and librarians, especially when it comes to the hugely important role they play in building awareness for titles and authors with middle-grade readers,” she said. “We hope that this event says we’re all in this together and that as long as there is the need for high quality, author-driven virtual events we’ll be here coming up with creative ways to reach readers online.”