World Read Aloud Day occurred on February 1st this year. As school had only just started back it was too difficult to organise something for my students on this day.
Upon checking the Skype in the Classroom website a number of authors were willing to Skype into classrooms beyond the World Read Aloud Day. One author who took my interest was Mariana Llanos. She was born in Lima Peru but now lives in the USA and writes books for children to promote cultural awareness. My students tend to be geographically and culturally isolated as they come from farms or small rural towns of 3000 population or less.
Mariana used a number of techniques to engage students including:
- Questioning for interaction
- Sharing her screen to enable us to read her book and enjoy the illustrations as she read it to us. Then, later on, to share photos on her computer of Christmas in Peru and the USA
- Using her home to Skype us so that sometimes she spoke Spanish to her daughter to give her instructions.
She started our session by sharing a little about herself eg she was born and grew up in Lima, Peru, then moved to Oklahoma where she has now lived in the USA for 17 years. She speaks Spanish and English. Mariana n shared her screen with us, sharing the pages of the book (Not) Home for Christmas and read this book to us. The illustrations were engaging and students seemed to understand her accent.
The video image was clear so students could actually read the text whilst Mariana read it to them. The story was about a family from the USA who returned to Peru to celebrate Christmas with their relatives in Sth America. There were marked cultural differences between the ways that the two countries celebrate this festival. eg Santa Claus is called Papa Noel in Peru.
Mariana then told us how the people in Oklahoma celebrate Christmas and then was interested in how we, in Australia experience this time of year (December 25th).
As the year 7 class has a boy who was born in the Philipines and a number of students who lived in New Zealand, we were able to gain some knowledge of the differences and similarities in these countries.
What I liked:-
- Mariana was an accomplished presenter.
- She shared her love of different cultures with us and gave my isolated students an insight into the US and Peruvian culture.
- We caught a glimpse of her home and her daughter.
- The session was structured well – introducing herself reading the book, discussing the content of the text, discovering how we celebrate Christmas, question time etc
- She shared her book via the screen so we could see the illustrations and text (especially if we had difficulty with her accent.)
- Mariana showed photos of Peru and Oklahoma at Christmas time.
- Mariana used a wonderful cartoon image that encouraged the students to read (either books or digital versions) as that gives the brain real power.