Delaware News

Schultz students keep tabs on far-flung classmate

Kindergartners use Skype to stay in touch with friend in Hong Kong

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Students in one Delaware kindergarten class are following the journey of a classmate who has temporarily relocated to Hong Kong.

In March, 5-year-old Addie Steinbrunner moved to Hong Kong with her parents after her father accepted a job there. The family will return in June.

Amber Masters, Schultz Elementary School kindergarten teacher, said Addie had been in her class all year but had to leave after spring break.

Her classmates were sad to see her go, but Masters spoke with Addie's mother about setting up Skype sessions in the classroom so they could stay in contact.

Masters had the technology team at her school set up Skype on their large Smartboard so the whole class could see her at once.

Since part of the curriculum is studying maps and learning about different cultures, Masters thought it would be a great opportunity for students to ask Addie questions about her new temporary home.

"We have a globe in the classroom and talk about where other countries are located. We talk about how different cultures are, and how we need to be accepting," she said.

"We are hoping to spark curiosity in the students to want to explore other cultures."

The students compiled a list of questions they wanted to ask Addie, focusing on what kind of food she was eating, what people wore, what McDonald's is like and how she deals with the language barrier.

The students have had three Skype sessions with her and have a fourth scheduled before the end of the school year.

"Addie is very well spoken for a 5-year-old and has been great at articulating the things she's been up to," Masters said.

Students were surprised to hear that people in Hong Kong dress similarly to people here, she said.

"Some of the books on Hong Kong that we have showed people dressed in native clothing," Masters said. "Students were surprised to hear that they, as Addie said, 'look like regular people.' "

Due to the time difference, when the class calls Addie, it's 9 p.m. her time. During one Skype session, Addie took her laptop out on the terrace to show students the view. "They live in a high-rise apartment, so she turned the laptop around and the students all got to see Hong Kong lit up at night," Masters said.

Addie also has been learning Cantonese and counted to 10 for her classmates.

An avid reader, she has been checking out books from the English section of a local library, Masters said.

Earlier in the year, the class participated in the Flat Stanley Project by having students send their Flat Stanley -- a paper cutout of a book character -- to friends and relatives in different parts of the country and other parts of the world for photos.

The class decided to create a "Flat Addie," a giant paper rendition to post on the wall in the classroom. Every time Addie's mom sends photographs, students post them next to her to see where she's been traveling.

"I think it's really good for Addie to see that the class is including her and hasn't forgotten about her," Masters said. "She will be joining the school again for first grade in the fall."

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