Skype with England

Today we had the wonderful experience of Skyping with our Flat Stanley buddies from England.  Mr. Holder and several of his students from Greenfield Primary School in Stourbridge, England exchanged Flat Friends with us by mail and have also been connecting with us via our blogs for the last several months.  As a culminating activity, we decided to do a Skype video conference with them to speak in person.  Each class prepared some information and photos to share about our country, school, hobbies, foods, sports, and more.  We talked for about 80 minutes and really enjoyed it.  Thanks so much to Mrs. Julia Skinner from the 100 Word Challenge Writing Prompt for bringing us together!  Check out the video below to see us in action.  We loved listening to their accents as I’m sure they enjoyed hearing ours as well.  What a wonderful way to end our school year!  Thank you!

Skype with England 2016 from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.

Skype with Author, Kate Messner


My students and I were thrilled to be able to do a free Skype with award winning author, Kate Messner last week.  We had just finished reading the first book in her exciting new series, Ranger in Time.  Ranger is a time traveling dog who travels to the Oregon Trail in his first adventure.  We enjoyed learning about that historical event as we read.  Many of the students didn’t realize how dangerous that trip could be and how much courage it took.  The students prepared questions in advance about both the book and being a writer in general.  We were excited to hear previews from Mrs. Messner about upcoming books in the Ranger in Time series including one that talks about the Underground Railroad and will mention a city we live near – Philadelphia.  We are now going to order a few of Mrs. Messner’s books which she will personalize for us.     Watch the video below to hear a bit of our Skype.  Thanks so much Kate!!

Skype with author Kate Messner from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.


Skype with Sharks4Kids

Today we had a fantastic time Skyping with Jillian Morris from Sharks4Kids.  Jillian is a marine biologist working with sharks on the island of Bimini.  She founded Sharks4Kids as a way to create a new generation of shark advocates through education, outreach and adventure.  She showed us photos and told us all about sharks’ bodies, where they live, the different kinds and more.  Her enthusiasm really made the Skype fun and it excited the students about this topic.  Below is a movie showing just a little of what we learned today.  The children also made movies showing what they learned using the app called Educreations.  You can view those on our Kidblog.  Thanks again Jillian for a great Skype today!

Skype with Sharks4Kids from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.


Busy Times in Grade 3 – Skype and Peace Day

The third grade students have been busy lately!  Last week we had our first mystery Skype with Mrs. Fenton’s thrid grade students from Providence Town School in Utah.  We took turns asking only Yes and No questions to determine the other school’s location.  Unfortunately, we had a bad connection and the call kept dropping but we still had a fun time.  After we got the correct location, we talked about our experience with the Oreo stacking and we also asked some questions to get to know them better.  Their school has about 800 students compared to only about 300 in our school.  They wear uniforms too and study the same subjects as we do.  Thanks for a great first Skype!

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On Monday we celebrated International Peace Day.  Each student in the school decorated a crane with words of peace and drawings.  Then we had a school wide prayer service.  We will be mailing our cranes to Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu Nigeria and we hope to get some back from them too.

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We took part in the Sing a Long run by Armed with the Arts  We sent them our song and they are going to put it together with others from around the world to make a group song.  Here is our submission.

St. Ignatius School Peace Day 2014 from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.

Mystery Skype with Indiana

Today we had the privilege of Skyping with a third grade from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Carmel, Indiana.  Their computer teacher, Mrs. Barks, and I connected on the Catholic Schools Week Mystery Skype site.  Instead of doing the 20 questions type of Skype, we decided to use a set of 10 questions that I formulated that give more facts about the state.  Some of them included weather, crops, location in the USA, famous people and places in the state, nicknames, state symbols, etc.  The children worked in pairs to ask and answer the questions during the Skype so that every student had a chance to talk to the other class.  The OLMC students only had 10 minutes before the Skype to prepare their answers.  We were very impressed with how well they did!    Before we started the sharing, we all stood up to say a prayer together.  How wonderful it was to pray together across the states!

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Here are some of the things we learned:

  1. Their town has 79,000 people compared to only 2,500 in Yardley.  But our state has twice as many people as their state.
  2. Both of us have singers that were born in our state.  Taylor Swift in PA and Michael Jackson in IN.  We also both grown corn and produce milk.
  3. Their state nickname is the Crossroads of America and the Hoosier State.
  4. The Indy 500 takes place in their state.
  5. They have also experienced very cold weather and snow this winter.  They sometimes experience tornadoes.
  6. They have over 600 students in their school compared to only 300 in ours.

At the end of the call, we asked some questions about books that we like to read and we also talked about our uniforms and our weather experiences.  We had a fun time and hope we can connect with them again!

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We were planning to share some of the things that we do during Catholic Schools Week but we ran out of time.  Maybe the OLMC students could leave us a comment telling us?  We’d love to hear from other Catholic Schools too!

At our school we had an Olympic theme for Catholic Schools Week.  Each classroom created an anthem and a flag and we shared them at an Opening Ceremony and Prayer Service.  All week long the students earned points for their room by doing good deeds, winning competitions, keeping their lunch table neat, etc.  At the end of the week we will add up the points and award medals to the winning homerooms.  We made cards and gift baskets for our bus drivers, fire fighters, police and the armed forces.  We also created Birthday Boxes.  We get large cake boxes from a local bakery and fill them with all the things someone might need to celebrate a birthday party: cake mix, candles, frosting, sprinkles, hats, plates, cups, napkins, party favors, a book, a toy, etc.  The boxes are decorated by the children and donated to a local food pantry to be given out to those who might not have the means to buy party supplies for their child.   Our week ends with an annual Talent Show which is always a fun night.

Birthday Boxes

Birthday Boxes

Please leave us a comment to share how your school celebrates Catholic Schools Week!


Mystery Skype with New Mexico

Yesterday we had a great time doing a Mystery Skype with Mrs. Maestas and her 2nd graders from the Manzano Day School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  To make it even more exciting, Mrs. Maestas had a local TV crew there filming us for a piece they are doing on Global Connections!  We answered our usual 10 questions to give clues.  We were very impressed with how well behaved and how well spoken those 2nd graders were!  We learned that their school has about 500 students from PreK- 5th grade with about 4 of each grade level.  They live in an urban area and have about 5,000 people in their city.  Crops that they grow include apples, squash and pumpkins.  Famous people from their state are John Denver and Demi Moore.  We enjoyed hearing about the Balloon Festival that takes place in their state each year and we looked it up to see photos after the Skype.  We also thought it was neat that they see coyote, snakes and road runners in the wild.  We did more research and looked up photos of road runners afterwards too.  We had a fun time during our Skype and we look forward to seeing the news clip!

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Skype with our Global Read Aloud Buddies in Canada

For the past 2 months, we have been taking part in the Global Read Aloud.  We read the book, Marty McGuire by Kate Messner and used Edmodo to have discussions about each chapter with 2 other classrooms who were also reading it.  It was a great experience!  We even had our question answered by author Kate Messner in her video Q and A.

Last week we Skyped with one of those classes, Mrs. Gosfield’s Grade 3/4 from Duchess, Canada.  Each student came forward to talk to the other class.  Some shared their favorite parts of the book.  Some of them included when Marty fell in the mud trying to catch the frog, when Veronica Grace ran off screaming because she saw the live frog, when Sparky the raccoon threw nuts at mom’s head, and when Marty kissed the live frog!!  The other students shared information about our country and our local area.

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Their school has over 400 students and it goes from Grades K-12 (compared to our school having 300 from K-8).  The town of Duchess has only 992 people and they live in a rural area so a lot of them live on farms.  We told them that our town of Yardley has about 2,500 people and we live in the suburbs.  We saw a photo of their flag and they told us it had a maple leaf on it which is the symbol of their country.

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They have a Prime Minster instead of a President and his name is Stephen Harper.  We also enjoyed learning a little bit about Queen Elizabeth.  Her favorite color is blue!  Their money is much more colorful than ours and it is made of plastic.

Canada 4We had a wonderful time meeting our new friends face to face and we hope to work with them on other projects later on in the year!

Our First Mystery Skype of the Year


Last week we had our first Mystery Skype of the year and the children and I were very excited!  We were Skyping with Mrs. Klose’s 5th grade class from Decatur, Texas which is outside of Dallas.  A few years ago, I formulated 10 questions that each class asks and answers to give clues so the other classroom can take a guess.  We try to give enough clues to help them guess without making it too easy.  I also like to give all of my students “on screen time” during every Skype to keep them involved.  So they work in pairs to gather the answers to each question.  Then for every Skype one student will ask the question and the other classroom answers.  After that, a student from the other class asks us the same question and my partner student answers.  The first 9 questions give clues like weather info, animals you see in the wild in your area, crops, population, state symbols, one bordering state and any bordering bodies of water, famous people and places from your state, etc.  Question number 10 gives school info (like name, number of students, grade level) and is shared after we guess the state.  So 20 of my students get to talk when we go through the 10 questions.  My last 3 students usually ask spontaneous question at the end if we have time – what are your favorite books to read, what subjects do you learn, etc.  When we finish a Skype, we journal in our Skype copybook to keep track of what we learned from each experience.  We also color that state in on our US map.  Here are the question that we ask.

Mystery Skype Questions Google Doc



From Mrs. Klose’s class, we learned that they have armadillo, rattlesnakes, raccoon and deer in their wild!  Their state nickname is the Friendly State and the mocking bird is their state bird.  Crops grown in Texas include cotton, soybeans and wheat.  Famous places include a Six Flag amusement park (which we also have nearby) and the River Walk.  We were both able to guess the state on our first try which was pretty good!  We had a great time today and we are ready for more Mystery Skypes!


Skype with England Blogging Buddies

Today we had a fantastic time Skyping with our Blogging Buddies from Ecton Brook Primary School in England. We learned that their school has 300 students just like ours does! They eat lunch in the dinner hall while we eat in our cafeteria. They mentioned eating biscuits and flapjacks which we would call muffins and pancakes. They told us about their PE classes (what we call Gym) which includes swimming! They have something called Sports Day which sounds like our Field Day where everyone competes in sports games and some students win ribbons. We showed them photos of a big snow storm we had 2 years ago. They told us about how they had enough snow to get off from school one day this year which is unusual for them. We explained how we get off because of snow for a few days each winter, which is fun for us.

We each talked about our favorite professional sports teams like American football, baseball and basketball for us while they talked about England football (soccer), rugby and netball.

We also found that we had many things in common like favorite singers (Taylor Swift and One Direction), books we read (Harry Potter and Danny the Champion of the World), TV shows (Good Luck Charlie), and Movies (James Bond).

It was fun to hear about their after school activities and their experience with having the summer Olympics in their country last year. It was a great learning experience and we hope to do it again sometime!

A New Kind of Mystery Skype

Now that the new year has started, we are back into the Skyping groove! This time around we are trying a new kind of Mystery Skype. The children only ask questions that can be answered with a Yes or a No to guess the location of the other classroom. Here are some examples:

Are you east of the Mississippi River?

Do you border an ocean?

Are you in the western part of the United States?

This kind of Skype gets the kids thinking and keeps them on their toes!  They all need to work together so we can be the first to figure out the location.  Each child has a different job to do during the call.

1. Asking the questions to help us guess

2. Answering the questions about our state

3. Mappers used dry erase maps to help us narrow down the location 

4. We used the netbooks to do research about populations and any other questions we had to look up

5. Some students were looking at physical maps in our textbook and at an atlas.

6. Scribes wrote down all of the clues we had gathered so far

7. Runners relayed questions from the different groups to the students asking.  For today’s Skype, we used the netbooks and  a website called “Today’s Meet” which allowed the children to message the questions to the students asking.

Skype with Mississippi

Skype with Colorado

We still like to share famous people, famous places, sports and other spontaneous questions during each Skype so we can learn more about that state and practice our listening and speaking skills too.