Hoping To Make a “Web 2.0” Difference In A Child’s Life – Part 2

Note: this is a continuation of an earlier post about using SKYPE to include a student that has been assigned to my class that has leukemia and can’t attend school because of the effects of her chemotherapy. The plan is to have a computer/web cam at her house so she can see and hear us and we can see and hear her using SKYPE which is free web based voice and video over internet.


Thursday I finally felt we were far enough along with getting the “infrastructure” lined up that I could inform the class of what we were hoping to do. I didn’t actually tell them anything, I just did an activity to get them ready to hear about it the next day. I had them write about the following:

Imagine something has happened to you, and you can’t be around other people at all. You can’t leave your house or have friends over, and you even have to be careful about being around members of your own family. You can talk on the phone or watch TV – if you have TV – but most of your family is gone during the day so you are by yourself – and you don’t feel real well sometimes and you can’t eat many of your favorite foods. How would you feel? What would you miss the most? What would be the hardest parts of not being around others? How could others make you feel better if they can’t play with you or even be with you?

The last question was what I really wanted a thoughtful response to – it would be the last thing we would discuss Friday before I told them the whole story. NOTE: I am planning on posting the 4th graders’ responses on their blog once I get it up and going (I know, I know … well MAYBE this weekend).

The ideas students came up with to answer that last question on Friday were truly inspired. “People could write me cards.” “They could send me emails” (one of my 4 students with internet at home). “They could stand outside my window and we could talk that way.” “They could have a MyFace (sic) page and we could write on that and put pictures.” (When I asked later she said she meant FaceBook actually).

Then I broke the news. I explained to the class that unbeknownst to them we had a new student in our class that had been in our class for about six weeks. “So who is it?” I asked. They all looked around the room with puzzled looks. Then I told them her name and about how she had cancer (I’ve found some web pages I’ll share with them next week specifically about leukemia). I explained about their journal entries and discussion we’d just had and made the connection for them.

I reminded them how a few times in the last weeks when they had entered the room I had Skype going and they could see themselves. I told them we had a computer donated along with an internet connection and web cam and that we would use that technology to include her in the class.

Needless to say they were pumped. They are really looking forward to making this work. So am I. Now I am just waiting for a call to come pick up the computer – then I’ll have to make arrangements to install the DSL line, computer and teach her how to use them.

Learning is messy!

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9 thoughts on “Hoping To Make a “Web 2.0” Difference In A Child’s Life – Part 2

  1. This is POWER! What a fantastic way to be inclusive! Will the children in class be able to talk to the child at home using the web cam and skype? What do you use to make it heard by all? – we tried skype with a class in Canada (us in New Zealand) but I go lots of feedback on the soudfield speakers. Great post – can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  2. Jody – yes we will be able to see and talk to her and she will be able to see and talk to us. To avoid feedback you can plug in headphones. I have video Skyped on several occaisions with a large group in my classroom. I have a speaker system installed in my ceiling that I plug into the side of my computer (but I have also used speakers plugged into my computer). The headphoness have a mic built in and it picks up sound from the room pretty well but somehow seems to avoid the feedback you are talking about. Hope that helps. I’m sure we will have issues once we get started – and so solving those issues will just be part of making it work.

  3. I recently saw a newspaper article about robots that they use in Children’s Hospitals. I can’t seem to find the article, but did find links to the robots that they use. I don’t know if these would be informative with your situation at all, but overall your blog post reminded me of this and I thought it was interesting. Great job getting a student involved that usually wouldn’t have a chance to be involved with the classroom in any way.