A Washington Primary School third grade class recently visited Roxboro Road Elementary School in Mattydale, New York outside of Syracuse without ever leaving their Whitson Road building.
The youngsters participated in a video conference with their upstate counterparts. Both classes loved the experience. “I really liked that we were able to take a break from the usual stuff we do in the classroom and try something different,” Washington third grader Griffin Zarcone said.
Washington School teaching assistant Angela Sementilli helped organize the initiative. She sat down with teacher Suzy Dinehart’s third grade class and discussed what video conferencing is all about and the tools needed to make it a success.
“A video conference allows participants in different locations to communicate in a live, visual connection,” Ms. Dinehart explained. “Ms. Sementilli discussed how it is a bit more formal than chatting with your friends on FaceTime or Skype. Video conferencing is a great way for our students to connect with other students from all over the globe.”
The video conference with the third grade class of teacher Jessica Norris at Roxboro Road Elementary School was preceded by the sharing of information between students from the two schools via email. The youngsters told each other about their neighborhoods, local stories, shopping areas, restaurants, theaters, beaches, etc.
“We both read the story, Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie DePaola,” Ms. Dinehart said. “After the story was read, each class created their own potato person. Each class sent only the directions for how to make their potato person. The other class had to recreate it using the steps provided. On the day of the video conference, each class revealed their potato and the other class potato they made from the directions that were given.
“I liked it because we got to talk and see another class from Syracuse,” Washington third grader Arianna Ramirez Cruz said. “I have never been to Syracuse so I got to learn about it. It was exciting. I have never done a live chat before with someone other than my family. It was fun. I hope I get to do it again soon.”
There was excitement in both classrooms during the initiative. “It was so much fun to show our potatoes to the other class,” Washington third grader Kateryne Zelaya said. “We were so surprised to see how they turned out after following each other’s directions.”
The video conference project broke up some of the monotony that can creep into the school year for students. “It was fun learning about someone else,” Washington third grader Ava Bencivenga said.
When all was said and done, everyone associated with the project saw it as a true learning experience.
“During the video conference, we were able to see that both of our schools had so much in common, despite the distance, regarding technology, extracurricular activities and even the latest dance moves,” Ms. Dinehart said. “We even discovered that both schools recite a pledge first thing in the morning stating the kind of students we strive to be.”