Woodbridge Elementary grade 4 students Skype with Chileans about 2010 earthquake


Everyone knows that students have an easier time comprehending text when they can make personal connections between what they read and what they have experienced in their own lives.  For most Baltimore natives, that could make reading a story about a child surviving a severe earthquake difficult to understand.  So Woodbridge Elementary School Grade 4 teacher Nick Schiner found people who could give his students a first-hand account using Skype!

Using Skype Education via Twitter, Woodbridge Elementary students had the opportunity to ask questions about the 2010 earthquake in Chile, speaking virtually face to face, with Grade 5 students in Santiago, Chile.  The virtual conversation took place in the second week of the school year.

With excitement on the faces of both groups involved, students exchanged in their own words what the earthquake was like.  While both groups spoke English, one Woodbridge student who spoke Spanish had the opportunity to ask the Chilean students in their native language how many of them had gotten hurt in the earthquake.  Almost all of the Chilean students responded that they had gotten some kind of bumps, bruises, or cuts from the experience.


Afterward, Woodbridge students were able to compare and contrast the fictional earthquake in “Earthquake Terror,” by Peg Kehret in the Houghton Mifflin reading series, with the experiences of the students to whom they spoke.

With a one-hour time difference, it wasn’t difficult to get the groups connected.  The Grade 4 students at Woodbridge were amazed at how easy it was to connect with people around the world.  One student said, “My mother has family who lives in Pakistan so I was thinking maybe I could Skype with them, too.”

Another said, “The most interesting part was that they were hundreds of miles from the center of the earthquake, and they could still feel it!”

Mr. Schiner and his students definitely look forward to Skyping again this school year.


Story and photos submitted by Elizabeth Ciganek, Good News Ambassador and vocal music teacher, Woodbridge Elementary School.
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