Guest Blog Post: A Smaller World with Whirlidurb

Ashley Deckelman and Amy Johnson are Technology Integration Specialists in the Parkway School District in St. Louis, Missouri. The TIS department provides instructional and technological leadership to administrators, faculty and staff, facilitates the development of teaching practices in the classroom using technology as an instructional tool and serves as a resource for curriculum coordinators and teachers to help facilitate the integration of technology into the curriculum. As Premium New Links members, Parkway has access to Whirlidurb videoconferences at no additional cost! Here, Ashley and Amy share their experiences videoconferencing this year.

So far, Parkway School District has participated in three different videoconference programs through Whirlidurb, with another one scheduled in December.  Overall, these videoconferences have been very beneficial to student learning due to the preparatory activities, the opportunity to interact with classes around the country, and the real life connections students are able to make.

Two of the conferences have been the Book Blitz program with a kindergarten class at Green Trails and a first grade class at Shenandoah Valley Elementary.  This style of program features a read aloud and a writing component.  The students began the conference by brainstorming some ideas about what Thanksgiving means to them.  Then students interacted with the Book Blitz host, as well as two other classes that were located throughout the country.   It was a great learning opportunity and provided different perspectives from kids living in different regions.

Another type of conference is the Community Helpers program on meteorologists.  The focus of this conference was on how community helpers keep us safe.  In this case, the first grade classes at Hanna Woods Elementary had just completed a weather unit in science.   The students were able to ask authentic questions of an expert in the field as a culminating activity.  At times the meteorologist asked questions of the participating classes which allowed them to transfer knowledge.

Kindergarten classes at Hanna Woods Elementary participated in another type of program, Show and Share.  This program focused on living and nonliving things.  Each class had to bring items to the conference that they could describe so other classes could infer if the object was living or nonliving.  This reinforced vocabulary skills as well as letters and sounds.

We have found these videoconferences to be well organized learning opportunities for 21st century learners.  Learning extends beyond the walls of a classroom with connections made across the country.   We would like to thank CSD and New Links for providing Parkway School District with these wonderful opportunities.

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