Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Read With Me" via Skype . . .

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet on twitter asking for people who would be interested in using skype to read stories with classes during the month of February. There was a link to a google form that contained questions about what times and days you would be available. I miss reading aloud to students, so I decided to try to participate in this project (Read Aloud time was one of my favorite times as a classroom teacher).

A few days later, I received an email from Cindy Phthisic, who is an Instuctional Technologist in Edenton, NC. Here is part of the letter:
"Thank you so much for volunteering your time to help with our Read With Me project this month. I have you scheduled to read with a class at 10:00am on February 8th. You will be reading to a group of 15 - 30 students depending upon how many classes sign up for your time.You may read any book of your choice, keeping in mind your audience will be students ages 4 - 8. If you need ideas for selecting a book, Dr. Seuss and Arthur books by Marc Brown are always good choices."

I looked on my bookcase at home and picked a book that I thought students would enjoy. I picked out Silly Sally by Audrey Wood to read to students. We did a test call on Skype to make sure things were working. Even though things worked then, we had a few technical problems when the actual time for the story came. I feel like that always happens to me when I try to do a video call using skype, but after a few minutes of troubleshooting (hanging up, recalling, closing, restarting . . .), everything was back working fine.

I spoke with Cindy later, and she told me a little about how she set up the project. First, she put out "all call" on Twitter and the Skype network to find people interested in reading to classes. She also emailed and called a few others like Mike Artell (who had just visited that school), June Atkinson, and a contact she had at the Washington Nationals who had helped with another skype call before Christmas. Volunteers signed up using a google form. Then she went through the dates that had been selected and set up the schedule. Cindy said this was an intro for most of the teachers and students to Skype, so they met in the media center and she handled the call. This "Read With Me" project was used as a Read Across America Preview, so Cindy took pictures of each of the readers to set up a map at the school showing the readers and their locations. The readers were from many places including Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania, Kansas, New York, and North Carolina.

I think the students enjoyed participating in this project. I know that I did! If anyone wants to try to do a project like this, I would be glad to help. I also don't mind reading a book to a classroom using skype . . . just let me know!

mwedwards815 on Skype


mrspatterson said...

I love this idea! I am a First Grade teacher and I am just getting started with Skype. We have only had a practice skype with the class across the hall. I would love for you to read to my class as a way to get us in to this technology!

Ashley said...

This is an excellent idea! I'm a 3rd grade teacher in NC. I've set up a "Mystery Reading Guest" program in my classroom, where volunteers come into the classroom to read. I like the idea of using Skype - another awesome way to use technology in the classroom. I'd also love for you to read to my third graders. Thanks for the idea.