Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How One Amazing Movie Created By Our New Kindergarten Friends In LA Made A Difference At Our School

Last week I received a little tweet about a kindergarten movie.  I wasn't sure what it was at first, so I didn't open it right away.  

Then my son Hagan and I saw the tweet again and decided to open go to the movie link on my iPhone.  
You are not going to want to miss this!  

Please take a few minutes and watch "Miss Nelson Is Missing" by the kindergarteners at Olympic Primary School before I go any further. 

I promise....You will love it.  
After Hagan and I watched the amazing video by Arturo Avina's kindergarteners I got back on Twitter.

I just had to tell Art how much I loved the video and his students. I love how he used creativity, passion for music and acting, and an amazing gift for working with children to create such a wonderful project to share with the world.  I couldn't wait to learn more about Art and his students. 
Art and his kids can be found at Olympic Primary School which is part of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  Their school and city is so very different from our little, rural town of Van Meter in the middle of Iowa.  We knew that they would have a lot to share and learn from one another.  
A few days later Art and I Skyped with each other.  Before the Skype I showed Mindy Dogget's second graders their movie.  The kids laughed out loud and wanted to watch it over again.  They loved everything about it.
After the movie was over, we called Art and his students.  It was so sweet when our students clapped and cheered when his kindergarteners answered.  They were so proud of what the other students had created.
Two of our second graders then read Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw....This is a book that my dear friend Andy Plemmons introduced to us when we connected our students too.  
I love this picture as you can see Art's little ones peering through the screen from California into our library in Iowa to listen to a story being read to them by two new friends.
Even though the two classes were 1669 miles apart on this day their classrooms came together as they asked questions, listened, smiled, waved, learned, and had fun talking to one another. 
I love seeing the pictures Art took from his classroom too.  
As you can see in our tweets, we were very excited about the connection.....There are connections that you have that you just know will lead to other things very special.  And this was one of those.  
Art's principal was there with him and the kindergarteners too.  She was so excited about the connection and told him it was like "watching man walk on the moon."  

This connection brought something very special to both places, to all the students, and to the educators involved. 
After our Skype, Mindy's class wanted to created a movie too.  They brainstormed with me about what book we would use and how we would organize ourselves.  One of the first things we did was tell the other second grade teacher, Tracey Ferguson, about the movie and idea.  She was super excited too.  

So the next day her class came to the library to Skype with Art and his students too.  We included the first graders as well on this Skype connection.
This time after watching their movie, we spent more time talking about the two places we live.  The students had fantastic questions about houses, school transportation, what their schools and classrooms looked like, weather, and lots of other things.
We just loved getting to know our new friends far, far away but so very close too thanks to technology such as Skype, YouTube, Twitter, email and texting.

Art and I, along with the other teachers and administrators, would take down the walls that hold our classrooms in and connect no matter how many miles were between us.  

This connection with Art and his beautiful students made a really special memory in my heart. 

And not just for me but for all of us.  

When I received this email from Art after our first Skype connection, I just sat there with tears in my eyes as I thought about this connection and all of the others we have had over the last several years.  They have brought something to our students they will never forget.  

Art wrote, 

"Hi Shannon! This may sound silly, but I've kept going back to these pictures over and over again today.  I almost gives me chills that our kids connected this way.  It's ironic that living in LA, the rest of the world is so closed off to my students.....It somewhat limits what they are exposed to.  Having downtown LA in our backyard does not translate into multicultural experiences for them.  They don't venture out of their neighborhood much and their world is pretty much school and home.  For them to talk to kids that "same, same but different" (pun intended) in another part of the country is groundbreaking for them." 

We are thankful we can bring such rich experiences to others and blessed that we can receive them just as much. 

You and your students have left an imprint on us by bringing an experience very special and unique.
Three days later I saw this first hand, in my own home.

As I walked into the kitchen on Sunday morning I heard the little ones singing one of the Madonna songs from the movie.  I walked over to the couch to find my son Hagan and his friends Easton and Will watching Miss Nelson Is Missing.  They were singing along and talking about how many people around the world have seen their "little California friends" movie.

That is the power of these connections.  To bring something very special and unique, to bring them into one another lives in creative ways, and to teach each other something they will never forget.

Thank you Art and to all of the amazing little people you have the pleasure of working with every single day.
We are so excited to create our own movies of children's books we love.  Thank you for being our mentors and for encouraging us to do the same.

We can't wait to share them with you someday soon too.

1 comment:

  1. I love "Miss Nelson is Missing"! I watched it twice. And it's definitely worth sharing! Thank you!