Classrooms in US and Mexico Bond Over Books

Jul 10, 2013 3:00 PM ET
07/10/2013 in Social Good by Andrew Schmidt

Partnering with another class to read together is a fantastic way to use Skype in your classroom. Not only does this type of lesson improve literacy skills, it’s also a great way to introduce your students to new cultures and stories from around the world.

Recently, as part of Skype’s Global Reading Initiative, Elisa Steele, Chief Marketing Officer for Skype, and her nine-year-old son Eddie, read to two classrooms via Skype. They chose Mary Ann Hoberman’s book, You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together.

Elisa and Eddie used group video calling to bring together Myrella Gomez’s kindergarteners at the Euroamerican School of Monterrey in Mexico and Robin McLaren’s 5th graders at Santa Rita School in Los Altos, California. In addition to reading together, the children had the opportunity to ask each other questions about their daily lives.

Teacher Robin McLaren was very enthusiastic about the experience. “For me, reading to students has always been one of the greatest pleasures of teaching. Elisa and Eddie’s Read Aloud lesson via Skype showed how this simple but meaningful act can connect classrooms across the world and forge relationships, discussion, and understanding. When kids connect across cultures they broaden their ability to communicate, and see the world from another point of view. I’m very excited about the ways this helps our students grow as global citizens,” she said.

The students were eager to learn about everything from the weather in each other’s countries to the music they played at school. They also had the chance to speak to each other in Spanish.

Kindergarten teacher Myrella Gomez commented, “The kids were really engaged. This Skype Read Aloud allowed my class to cross boundaries without having to leave our classroom. It was just awesome!”

Both schools asked each other if they could meet again on Skype next year to organize reading and poetry lessons, showing that one Skype Read Aloud lesson can easily transform into an ongoing relationship between teachers and students.

Elisa was thrilled that everyone involved had such a rewarding experience. “It was wonderful to connect the students in Mexico with the students in California,” she said. “They were so engaged and excited about using Skype in their classroom. My son Eddie and I enjoyed reading with them. And, now Eddie’s decided to learn Spanish so he can call the Mexican students again next year!”

Make sure you check out Skype in the classroom’s reading collection for the latest literacy lessons from our global teacher community. You could also try partnering an older class with younger students for a reading mentor lesson series on Skype. Joining is free and easy, as is applying for free group video calling and it allows you to create your own lessons while taking part in others. Time to drop everything, pick up a book and get reading on Skype!