Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Global Holiday Song Exchange Skype-a-Thon

The following post is cross posted from the "21st Century Learning at the South Elementary" blog that I also author.  There I post the great learning experiences that we bring to our students.  Unfortunately, with all that is happening lately, I have struggled to keep up with sharing some of those great experiences here.  I am going to try cross-posting some of my favorite activities in both places to see if I can do a better job sharing with you all.

Global Holiday Song Exchange Skype-a-Thon

South Elementary music teacher Jean Shields leads 3rd grade
students in song.
Yesterday the students at the South Elementary got to experience one of the great joys of the holiday season - music from around the world.  Through Skype, our students took part in seven different group calls that allowed them to exchange holiday songs with students from five different continents. The planning of the project over the past 2 weeks was done with the help of a lesson posted on the Skype in the Classroom website.  We asked for classrooms in other locations to contact us if they wished to participate.  Many of our connections were made through that posting.   We wanted to make sure that we had 2 other classrooms connecting with us in each of our time slots.  During our group calls, each class had the opportunity to sing three of their favorite holiday songs for their partner classes.

The first call of the day partnered our 3rd grade students with children in Russia and Poland.  Some of the Russian students dressed up as traditional holiday characters from their country: Papa Frost and his granddaughter who deliver presents to children on New Year's Eve.

Our next session partnered our 3rd graders with students in France and Venezuela.  A French newspaper wrote about the interaction here:  Mende : Jeanne-d’Arc connectée au reste de la planète.  The highlight of this call was when all three schools sang "Jingle Bells" in their own language.  It was a beautiful three-continent, three-language sing along.

 The third group call connected students in Mrs. Spitzer's homeroom with students in Greece and Canada.  Our Greek friends shared a bit about their Christmas traditions and insisted on taking a three-country picture at the end of the call.

Our fourth connection stayed within the United States. Mrs. Gates's second grade class connected with schools in Massachusetts and Delaware.

Session five also stayed within the United States.  Our 4th and 5th grade chorus got the opportunity to share the songs they had been practicing with a Middle School chorus in Virgina and a group of 4th grade students in Utah. There was some fantastic singing going on during this call as you can see in the video below.


The sixth session of the day of the day brought countries in North America together.  Second grade students in Mrs. Gates's and Mrs. Seifert's classes and Mrs. Conklin's Kindergartners sang for and with students in Mexico and Canada.  Since the Mexican students spoke Spanish and the students in Canada were French speaking, there was another multi-language caroling activity at the end of the call.

Our last connection of the day was between Mrs. Flynn's second grade students,  first graders in Colorado, and third graders in Hawaii.  The Colorado students played the xylophone along with their songs.  The Hawaiian students sang a unique version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" that substituted in gifts from Hawaii like coconuts, giant squid, and papaya trees.

In addition to our seven connections during the day, classrooms that could not connect live due to time zone restraints or holiday breaks sent us videos of their students singing.  We received videos from Serbia, India, France, and Kenya.  Those videos can be seen on the Distance Teaching Project website and will be played as part of our morning news broadcast during the next few days. This was an amazing experience for everyone who participated.  We've already had multiple requests to plan another Holiday Song Skype-a-Thon for next year.