Monday, November 8, 2010

Newspaper article about our Skype pals

Dear Parents,
Here is an online version of the story about our Skyping in the Daily Hampton Gazette. I am sure the children will be thrilled when they listen to this.

Kindergartners exchange ideas with Honolulu students
by Rebecca Everett

With help from technology and the efforts of two kindergarten teachers, 16 students in Gail Poulins kindergarten class at the William E. Norris Elementary School have the modern-day equivalent of pen-pals, even before they know how to write a letter.

Poulins class has been using a video-chat computer program called Skype to communicate with a class of kindergarten students at the Hongwanji Mission School in Honolulu, Hawaii.
I think theyre still in awe of it, Poulin said of the childrens reactions to the project. Students on both ends of the Skype sessions are asking and answering questions about the weather, what school is like and what life is like 5,000 miles away, Poulin said.
Theyre listening and absorbing a lot, Im impressed, she said. Yesterday we were making a list about our ideas about our Hawaiian friends, and almost every child contributed with what they know about where they live and what their lives are like.
The classes third Skype session was on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. which is 8:30 a.m. for the Hawaiian students. Poulin said that her students are starting to grasp the idea of different time zones, the different climate there and the different foods they eat.
They love that they can wear shorts and T-shirts all the time there, she said. Also, they talk about Spam because they like to eat Spam there almost everyday, so I know Ill have to let the kids try some soon.

Wendy Lee, the kindergarten teacher at the Hongwanji School, found Poulins name and contact information on a list of teachers who were interested in having Skype pen-pals and contacted her earlier this year. Lee said that the children in her class are awed by Southamptons autumn colors and snowy winters. They are gaining so much from this experience, which books can never replace, she said by email.

Poulin agreed that the experience is very valuable because the students are starting to get a bigger picture of the world outside Southampton. Anytime they can make a personal connection to something or to the world, it will help them down the road. Anytime someone mentions Hawaii, or that weather or even time differences, theyll have a stronger understanding of it because of their exposure to another part of the world, she said.

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