Sunday, March 3, 2013

Skype, New York City & New Learning!

"We're Skyping with our friends from New York City! Look!" - A.C.

Since watching Ms. Callenbach's (@monicak206) Kindergarten class' digital book at the end of January, some of our students have been busy thinking about and writing down questions they would like our new friends to answer as a way of teaching us more about their school and community! In preparation for our New York City Skype session, we decided to revisit their "What Can You See?" book and review our connections, comments and wonderings! This opportunity allowed for rich dialogue amongst our class since they used their prior knowledge from the book to generate new wonderings! 

Just like when we skyped Ms. Gomez' class from Monterrey, Mexico, and Mrs. Harrison's class from Keswick, Ontario, our students came up with six questions that they wanted Ms. Callenbach's class to answer so that we could gain a deeper understanding of their school and where they live! 
Here is what we came up with:

1. How many friends do you have in your classroom?
2. What is a butcher shop?
3. How many trees do you have?
4. Why do you have ladders on your buildings?
5. Why is your fire hydrant black?
6. What is a boiler truck?

As students arrived last Tuesday morning, they could tell we would be skyping with our new Manhattan friends with how the room was set-up! Our morning announcements hadn't even begun and you could feel the excitement in our classroom rise! Once our Morning Meeting had finished, our selected speakers grabbed their interview clipboards and we made the "call" to our new friends!

Here is what we learned from Ms. Callenbach's class and their community:

1. We have 25 kids in our class! Our class is called K206!
2. A butcher shop is a shop where people cut meat. You can buy stuff like hamburgers, steaks, and stuff.
3. We have 2000 trees! (corrected by Ms. Callenbach) - We have very little trees around our schoolyard and very few with no leaves.
4. The ladders are fire escape ladders. Not all buildings have them but the older ones do. They are special ladders to use in case of a fire. They make it easy for the firemen to get into buildings and get out.
5. We don't know why we have black fire hydrants. In New York City there are lots of different coloured fire hydrants. Megan's dad is a firefighter so we will find out and ask him! 
6. A boiler truck is something that repairs stuff. A boiler in a building heats things up and makes buildings warm. 

Here are the questions Ms. Callenbach's class asked us about our classroom and community:

1. How did you make your "We can see" book?
- We went on a Nature Walk and took lots of pictures then we added our words. - S.M.
- Ms. Callenbach's class: We went on a Neighbourhood Walk and took pictures too! Our neighbourhood is very busy and loud.

2. What colour is your rug?
- It's rainbow colours and has lots of letters on it. It even has numbers and clouds. - E.S.

3. Does your school have an elevator?
- Yes! We can't go in it though. Only the pizza goes in it on Pizza Day. - L.D.
- Ms. Callenbach's class: We only have stairs in our school because our school building is old. 

4. Do you have a bathroom in your classroom?
 - Yes, we have one bathroom. It's big. - A.M. 
- Ms. Callenbach's class: We have one bathroom too but we have separate doors. One door is for girls and one is for boys.

5. We looked your school up on Google Earth! We saw so many houses and lots of green stuff. Do you have trees or a forest near your school?
- We have lots of trees and a park but we don't see a forest. That would be really cool! - J.S. (SK)

We also discovered that they have a "Nature Table" in their classroom to which our students made connections to our "Discovery Centre!" We learned that Ms. Callenbach's Nature Table had a lot of the same learning materials as our centre and they even have 2 GUINEA PIGS named Roxy and Zamboni! Our SK's got excited that they could share their connection from last year when we had 2 frogs in our classroom! We also learned that two students in Ms. Callenbach's class had the same names as two students in our class (J.S. and E.S.) - that brought on a lot of excitement! 

To conclude our Skype session, our new friends asked us if we would like to be pen pals and write letters back and forth to each other to help us learn more about each other's communities! Our class shouted "YES!" and we can't wait to read and learn more about their school and city! 

Our SK's have already been very busy crafting their letters on "special" paper to send to our Manhattan friends and are very excited to send them in the mail! We also added a new "school bus" to our world "What Can You See?" map in our classroom to help signify and illustrate all the places we've connected with over the course of this incredible project! We truly look forward to reconnecting with Ms. Callenbach's class again in the near future! Stay tuned for more updates! 


  1. What an exciting connection for your students!
    I love how you set the children up for success: having them rehearse the questions, and giving special paper for responding to their new friends. This is a great model for how to set up sharing ideas between classes.
    My class have loved seeing the books shared on the "We Can See" blog, (including yours and the Manhattan school too) but speaking to them via Skype makes it much more intimate and immediate - very lucky for both classes indeed. I am inspired to try this out someday soon.

    1. Laurel,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for commenting! I truly love hearing from other educators like yourself!

      Skype is most certainly an incredible teaching and learning tool for us and our students and this is my first year really diving into its possibilities. I couldn't agree with more with you in the sense that Skype makes the learning immediate and intimate. I'm so proud of our students' enthusiasm and engagement when sharing all that they know with others.

      We have truly enjoyed watching all of the books also and if and when you'd like to try Skyping, I'm sure our class would love to connect!

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting!


  2. Wow! K-206 was just as thrilled to meet your class!
    I am inspired by your thoughtful and detailed documentation. This was our, and my, FIRST Skype class visit. The first of many, I hope. We are also getting ready to write you letters and mail them, especially after learning so much from our Neighborhood Study visit to our post office.
    Looking forward to our next visit, this Tuesday!
    Your friends in K-206, NYC.

    1. See more of our class on our Tumblr blog:
      Password: pingu

    2. Hi Monica and friends in K206!
      It has been a true pleasure meeting you and learning from you over Skype! You have truly expanded our knowledge and understanding of what New York City and your neighbourhood is all about. We look forward to continuing to write you letters and can't wait to send them you!
      Here's to happy learning and we look forward to future Skype sessions in the near future!

  3. Jocelyn,

    It was so nice to see you at the Reading Recovery Conference!

    I am really impressed by your work and how you infuse technology and social media into all that you do with your students!

    I'm hoping to have the courage to SKYPE before the school year ends! It looks like such a rich and meaningful experience for everyone involved.

    Hard to believe we're already into March...

    Have a great evening,


    1. Hi Joanne,

      Thank you so much for such kind words! From you, they mean a lot since you've been a true source of inspiration for me and Heidi and showing us the sky is the limit! :)

      We would love the opportunity to Skype with you and your class when you're ready! It's truly an incredible medium to share, learn and push our thinking with each other! I look forward to exploring with you in the near future.

      Wishing you a wonderful last week before the well-deserved break
      Thanks again for all that you do!

  4. Hi Jocelyn,
    We would love to Skype with your class more often this year!
    All the best from NYC,
    Mónica Callenbach & K-206 a the Manhattan New School