2009 Winter Holidays Around the World VC

July 27, 2009

Gingerbread House on Flickr What winter holidays do your students celebrate? Here’s a great chance to explore the different religious and cultural celebrations throughout the winter months!

Award winning author Patricia McKissack shares with students over videoconference her expertise when in comes to writing, and tells participants about her holiday book, Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters. This illustrated book, for children ages nine and up, compares the preparations between the plantation mansion and the slave quarters leading up to Christmas celebrations.

Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters
Patricia McKissack and Fredrick McKissack
Illustrated by John Thompson
Details of holiday observances practiced by the wealthy residents as well as the slaves who lived on a large Virginia plantation in 1859 are shared through narrative, songs, recipes and glorious illustrations. The love of family and the bonds of traditions are made bittersweet by the tumultuous changes wrought by the upheavals inherent in the lives of the slaves and the impending wrenching changes wrought by war. The book is meticulously attendant to historical accuracy and never descends into an overly sentimental view. Detailed notes follow the text, with further interesting tidbits (for example, the phrase “sleep tight” refers to the rope slats supporting a mattress which must be tight to avoid uncomfortable sagging). Winner of the 1995 Coretta Scott King Award.

During the first videoconference, Pat will talk with the participating teachers about what they are doing in class and how this videoconference relates to their curriculum. In the second and third videoconferences, Pat interacts directly with the students. In the final connection, students will have an opportunity to share their work with their peers and Pat. Pat offers her praise and critique of the work, though often encouraging students to revise and rewrite!Flickr Creative Commons

Students in past videoconference connections have written about several winter holidays, including (but not limited to) Chinese New  Year, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa.

To have your class sign up for this interactive videoconference series, contact Rebecca Morrison at Cooperating School Districts to learn about costs and expectations. Each videoconference should have no more than 30 students per class, and we never connect more than three schools at one time. Pat works with students of all ages, but we work to schedule to make sure the right groups are working together (a second grade class would never work with a seventh grade class, for instance).

We hope to see you this holiday session! Here are the dates for 2009’s programs:

Teacher Session: Thursday, November 5 at 4 pm CT
First Student Session: Tuesday, November 24 at 11 am CT
Second Student Session: Tuesday, December 15 at 11 am CT

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