Rye Neck Students Go Around the World and Back Again with Skype

Rye Neck elementary school students have been seeing the world without boarding yellow school buses, getting permission slips signed, or stepping a foot outside their classrooms. Instead, the students at F.E. Bellows have been connecting with their international peers via videoconferencing and Skype.

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Published February 28, 2012 4:34 PM
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s-rnskythumbRye Neck elementary school students have been seeing the world without boarding yellow school buses, getting permission slips signed, or stepping a foot outside their classrooms. Instead, the students at F.E. Bellows have been connecting with their international peers via videoconferencing and Skype.

 

By Janice Llanes Fabry

 

Rye Neck elementary school students have been seeing the world without boarding yellow school buses, getting permission slips signed, or stepping a foot outside their classrooms. Instead, the students at F.E. Bellows have been connecting with their international peers via videoconferencing and Skype.

 

s-rnskype“The idea that we can support the curriculum with interesting, new technology is very important,” said William McKeon. “We’re able to connect student to student, classroom to classroom across the globe.”

 

The Polycom collaboration tool employed by the Rye Neck School District gives educators and students alike the opportunity to exchange ideas on a global scale. Last year, Bellows’ fourth graders were able to collaborate with a rural Tennessee school responsible for the Paper Clip Project, whereby 11,000,000 paper clips were collected, representing all the Holocaust victims.

 

While studying Latin America this year, the fifth graders Skyped with Venezuela and Peru and listened to a South American professor’s first-hand account of his adventures in Machu Picchu. During their lesson on the children’s classic “Shiloh”, fourth graders held discussions with their counterparts at a school in West Virginia, the story’s setting. The fact that those students lived minutes away from the rivers and roads in the novel, with which his students had become familiar, added a whole new dimension, observed Mr. McKeon.

 

“Video conferencing allows us to put a new slant on the same core material, and it also enables us to compete with the fast-paced videos the kids have become used to,” he said.

 

A video conferencing session that had a great impact on third, fourth, and fifth graders featured child prodigy and international author Adora Svitak. Not the run-of-the-mill author’s visit, the six-day program covered Ms. Svitak’s inspiring discourse on literacy from her own her home.

 

Mr. McKeon has already begun organizing a videoconference festival that will coincide with “Wear Purple 4 World Peace Day” on May 16. At Bellows, the students will prepare by drawing, making posters, and writing stories and poetry.

 

“We will put together a multi-point event, where hundreds of classes can get together. We also plan to bring in law enforcement agencies and the United Nations,” said Mr. McKeon.

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