Wednesday, March 15, 2006
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
When I was contacted in early February, about one of our 3rd grade NYC classes participating in a videoconference about St. Patrick's Day with a School from Cork, Ireland I immediately sent out an e-mail to all our schools looking for interested classes. I knew there would be "takers" but I had no idea of just how popular this program would be. I got so many responses from classes that were very enthusiastic to participate in the program. Not even the stipulation that a written lesson plan needed to be provided deterred those teachers from responding. It was difficult turning down so many. Why did this offer attract so many when so many other wonderful program opportunities attract so few or sometimes none at all. I think there were two elements that were very appealing. First of all the fact that a class in Ireland would be participating gave the conference an exotic component. Everyone loves an international connection! But the second element is that St. Patrick's Day is probably one of the most beloved holidays that is celebrated in our schools. As it was said more than once during today's videoconference "On St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish".
Today was the day of the videoconference. The 3rd grade classes that participated in today's program were two of our classes from New York, one from Michigan, one from South Dakota and of course one from Cork, Ireland. Mrs. Healy's class from St. Vincent's School in Cork was using a videophone. All the other classes were using Polycoms. Bridging these technologies are still unchartered waters and although it worked yesterday during a test call, today only their audio made it across the Atlantic Ocean. So we listened to the beautiful brogues of the children in Mrs. Healy's class as they talked about the city of Cork and their celebrating of St. Patrick's Day. We learned that there are no specific foods for St. Patrick's Day and that often pizza is more popular than cornbeef and cabbage. Our students shared facts about their cities and how they celebrate St. Patrick's Day. They shared limericks and activities and got to ask a few questions.
I hope that we will get to see Mrs. Healy's class one day as videoconferencing is such a visual technology that it would be nice to have faces to go with those voices. I'm sure those Irish eyes are smiling but it would have been nice if we could have seen them.