Bringing people in and making global connections has been the theme to help my students fall in love with reading and develop their social emotional learning, since we’ve come back from winter break. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but after Skyping or using Google Hangouts, with an author and other story-telling-educators, I hope to encourage other teachers to give it a go!

If our students had their way, we’d have so many more field trips, but money and time can put a limit on those types of learning experiences. But after using Skype a couple of times with other educators in my Professional Learning Network (PLN), I decided to use it as a tool to bring the outside world in to give my students an opportunity to learn from others through the art of story telling. Every story has had a strong social emotional tie-in and some of my students’ confidence levels have been boosted as they communicate back with the adults on the screen!

These story telling educators range from a published author, Instructional Coaches, classroom teachers, and even one of my former students who is studying law! They have brought a little of the Midwest, southeast, and west coast into our lives! We’ve even had some fellow Texans!

The stories range from I Want To Be Like Poppin’ Jo, Pete the Cat, The Little Engine That Could, The Giving Tree, The Rainbow Fish, Oh, The Places You Will Go!, Have You Filled Somebody’s Bucket Today?, The Circle Unbroken, and The Mixed Up Chameleon! We spend time reflecting after each story. My students are learning that reflections come from your heart and mind. We’ve used written words, drawings, and discussions when we reflect. It’s turned into something my students look forward to and ask if anyone is going to Hangout or Skype in to tell them a story today?

I have enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and growing in this area. Google Hangouts has been easier than Skype and less technical problems. A couple of times, these sessions were the first time I’ve talked with members of my PLN outside of Twitter or other social media! It’s been fun for all of us!

So if you feel like you are not tech-savvy enough to pull this off, I want to encourage you that being a bit uncomfortable has made this more fun! I did have some tech issues but nothing that made me want to quit! Yes, my kiddos got antsy and sometimes talked too much, but other times they addressed people politely, and stood and answered questions using complete thoughts! It’s been amazing to see how some students’ attention and focus have improved the more we do this!

School can get so boring for all of us! I hope this time of connecting to others, in different parts of our country, will be a memorable experience for my students and I hope their confidence will continue to grow! I hope they will naturally reflect more with their hearts and minds after this time. I even hope they’ll fall in love with reading!

So if you want an idea to put a little joy back into your day, a Skype or Google Hangout Story Telling session might be just what you need! And February 1st is World Read Aloud Day so you still have time to line something up! I just asked people if they’d read a story and they were more than willing to connect with us!

Would love to help you in this endeavor, too! Best wishes!

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