We recently had our Christmas Gift Exchange between the Modesto and Kyoto students involved in the PacRimX project this year. This gift exchange was conducted over video conference link. We cross shipped boxes with student gifts a month prior to the exchange.
Modesto students put their names on slips of paper and we had an elf drawing names. The Modesto student would then call out to the Kyoto student whose gift they selected and they would open their gifts together over the video link.
The students had a lot of fun and laughs as they opened each other’s gifts. It was amazing how many of the Modesto student gifts were candy (specifically chocolates).
There was a lot of food, drinks and sweets brought to the party. We overestimated how many pizzas were going to be eaten and several students happily took home whole pizzas after the party.
Several parents stuck around to participate in the festivities. All were very engaged and the party suddenly ended when our scheduled time on the K12Video.org system expired. We at least had completed the gift exchange before this happened. The video conference went just over two hours (or two class periods in Kyoto).
This was a great way to give the students face to face time in a fun setting. I noticed that now that we’ve had three video conferences individual students are starting to be recognized and everyone on both sides of the camera are more at ease and comfortable with the other students.
Our next joint activity will be online in Skoolaborate either in late January or early February. This will be the Festival of Ages event sponsored by the Kyoto students. Here is the blog post from last year’s Festival of Ages, and here are links to two videos produced by Chris Flesuras (teacher at Kyoto Gakuen) on last year’s event; Jidaimatsuri (Part 1) and Jidaimatsuri (Part 2).
We are currently getting student profiles completed to send to Kyoto to facilitate the matching of student’s to host familes. Hopefully these will be completed by February so they can start communicating with their host families prior to the April exchnage.