Category Archives: skype

When Santa stole the show!

Santa takes a rest!

Santa takes a rest!

For several months, a connection with a school in a rural area of Japan has been formally planned. Test connections took place and we got a glimpse of the classroom without students.

The empty Japanese classroom

The empty Japanese classroom

This was my first quite formal connection as previous skype linkups have been spontaneous, sometimes unplanned, rather relaxed with some discussion on what we would do and how it would look once we connect. The learning has often been customized by the students and teachers involved as the connection evolves. However, with Mariko, a University colleague from Japan, we had a very formal structure in place with specific briefs and time to be taken for each part of our 30 minute connection.

Meanwhile behind the scenes:

The week before, students decided to organise a KrisKringle with the presents being opened on the day of the organised Japanese linkup. Names were drawn out of a hat so that the girls knew who their gift recipient was to be, would spend up to $10 on the gift and decided to open them prior to the Japanese web conference. Meanwhile, staff decided during the week to have a smorgasboard morning tea on that same day.

Christmas goodies

Prior to the connection:

  1. On the actual day, I emailed Mariko to ask whether her students would like to hear about Christmas and how we celebrate it here if there was time. She responded yes and suggested we do it at the start of the lesson.
  2. Students collected ‘Christmas’ type items around the school eg the year 5/6 Christmas tree, examples of craft work, printouts of pictures and amazingly found a Santa costume.
  3. Students brought in their gifts and placed them in the Santa Bag.
  4. Printed off individual first names on A4 paper so that the Japanese students would see who was talking to them.

The actual connection

Students completed a survey prior to the connection to share what they already knew about Japan. Surprisingly for me, two or three said that they knew nothing at all. At the appointed time, the skype call came through. We were seated informally around the webcamera, Christmas gear discreetly out of sight and faced a very formal classroom setup with the Japanese students seated in rows, some with masks over their mouths and a couple of girls with a blanket over their knees.

students

The girls proceeded to introduce themselves one at a time, name tag clearly displayed. Then showed some of the pictures, craft work and the Christmas tree. As this was going on, a lot of noise was coming from the corner of the room. About to reprimand those who were making the noise, I saw that they were quickly trying to dress a student in the Santa costume. With no planning at all, Santa, then grabbed the presents that were placed in the Santa sack, ho ho’ed her way into to the webcamera and did the Kris Kringle on the spot!

Santa opens her gift

Santa opens her gift

There was much laughter and fun as the girls opened their presents in front of the web camera and showed what they closer to the camera. There were chocolates, lollies, lip gloss, cosmetics and jewellery. Curiousity gave way as we had to explain what some of the goods were and compare whether some of the confectionery and chocolates were available in Japan. At times we had to wait to be interpreted, a new skill for the girls to learn.

Talk then proceeded to the food we eat, when I suddenly remembered the leftovers from our smorgasboard morning tea. Leaving the girls to continue talking, I returned with some of the special cakes, chocolates and part of Christmas fruit cake. Britt Gow a fellow teacher shared her fruit cake with them and explained what it was.

Britt shares her Christmas cake

Britt shares her Christmas cake

It was then question time. Our girls wanted to know why the boys were wearing the face masks and why the girls had a rug on their knees. Too quickly it was time to say goodbye and despite the fact that we did not follow our original program, the lesson worked, was fun, student led and directed with one of our favourite festivals and Santa taking pride of place!

 

A masked student

A masked student

A kitty blanket

A kitty blanket

Going back in time!

Video call snapshot 32

Mariko Eguchi took us on a virtual tour of a Japanese classroom belonging to the class she is going to connect us with in early December.  Japan brings images of high technology use in my mind so it came as a bit of a shock to see a blackboard, chalk, no sign of computers or technology except for Mariko’s equipment, chairs in straight lines, desks individually placed allowing one student per desk etc. Certainly a contrast to our classrooms at Hawkesdale! It took me way back in time and reminded me how far we have actually come with technology.

Mariko had brought mobile polycom equipment, but the school firewall did not allow video to be transferred during our test linkup.  Skype was used instead with the video and audio of high quality.

The year ICT class used Mystery Skype, google maps etc to determine where Mariko was from. She then took us on virtual tour of the classroom explaining that we were to meet the actual class in a couple of week’s time. Students were intrigued to find out that this school canteen only serves curried rice compared to our school which has a wide variety of hot foods and cold foods.

Video call snapshot 31

One of my students then took Mariko on a virtual tour of our school, using their microsoft surface tablets device.

 

Breakfast Around the World – #skype2learn

Out of the first #skype2learn chat came a discussion on sharing breakfasts successful linkups between countries, cultures etc using the web camera in skype.

This gave idea to a simple project using the #skype2learn hashtag together with #breakfastaroundworld hashtag, that would allow classes across the world the ability to access photos from those who live there for use in the normal studies.

About the project:

1. Take a picture of a typical breakfast either for you or others who live in your country. A mobile device is ideal!

2. Login to twitter

3. Write a tweet describing briefly what can be seen for breakfast, country you are from, add the hashtags #skype2learn #breakfastaroundworld upload your photo (by looking for the camera icon, clicking on it and exploring your computer for your photo.) Send the tweet.

4. To find the other photos that have been uploaded, look for the magnifying glass top right of twitter or search bar, type in #skype2learn and look for the breakfast photos (or search for #breakfastaroundworld). Shared, tweeted photos should display.

This could form the basis for a number of learning  activities in class:

  • Comparing breakfasts across cultures
  • Exploring reasons for differences
  • Discovering where countries are located
  • Ask further questions of some of the tweet
  • Add to the conversations
  • Find others to connect with across the world

Arrange a skype linkup with others to actually show the breakfast, talk more about it and ask further questions of each other using the web camera.

What other learning outcomes might result? Did you write a blog pst or share online somewhere further details? If so please share the links below. Please join in this simple project.
And as for my breakfast……

Children’s Day: The first time I heard the National Anthem of India

Singing the National Anthem

Singing the National Anthem

Today is Children’s Day in India. What a wonderful day to celebrate and acknowledge our young and make them feel very special. To mark the occasion, my dear friend, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala, India asked whether I could arrange students to link up with his.
childrens day

 

Sebastian and children

Unfortunately the time was right on our school closing time, so our students were unable to videoconference, but I was happy to be their audience. Teachers and students of varying ages came up, said hello and asked some questions of me. The children were delightful, appeared extremely interested well mannered and spoke clearly.  Balloons were evident in the classroom – a sign of the celebrations.

girl and children

At the end of our 20 minute linkup, the students, teachers and Sebastian sang me their National Anthem with great pride and gusto. And I hate to admit it, it was the first time that I ever remember hearing the National Anthem of India.

children at desks

 

“That’s weird! We live in their future!”

I woke up this morning to read a skype in education message from a teacher in the USA looking urgently for a class to ‘mystery skype’ with. Knowing that our time zones rarely work, I nearly declined, but checked out the suggested times for connection and ‘hey presto’, I could say that I could find a class to connect for them to connect with.

request

Students love to connect with the USA as many of the TV shows that they love to watch come from America, many of our fast foods are from there etc etc However, I had to find some students as I thought I was not timetabled with a class. Three year 9 girls gladly came out of their maths class and some of my year 11 IT students took part.

Bellingham

The notice was late as Brian, the lecturer suddenly thought “Why teach his pre-service teachers about the use of skype in the classroom, why not actually do it!” and so we did.

group of girls and Bellinghamr

Here is what it looked like:

  1. We introduced ourselves individually to each other.
  2. Next, we played mystery skype. It was easy for us to work out they were from the USA, but then quite difficult to work out exactly where. After several clues, we finally worked it out.
  3. On the US part, the pre-service teachers used their mobile devices – phones, tablets etc to finally work out exactly where we were from (after some clues).
  4. Times of each country were shared, then the date and day of the week we were in. As soon as the girls heard they were still in Wed afternoon at 4:00pm, they responded with “That is weird, we live in their future!”
  5. The US teachers asked what the girls thought made a good teacher. Some of the responses were ‘a sense of humour’, allow students to follow passion projects, take into account different student learning styles, they want to have fun with their learning etc.

monitorr

Student reaction: They had fun, enjoyed learning with them and sharing their knowledge and particularly liked working with older students”

#skype2learn twitter chat – the archive

Questions for the first chat

Questions for the first chat

Thanks to everyone who participated in the first twitter chat for #skype2learn. Special thanks to Bevery Ladd who co-modarted the chat and to the Master Skype teachers for their active involvement.

Participants stayed up late at night (including Siberia and England) or tweeted early before they went to bed (eg Livingstone, a teacher from Havilla Childrens Centre in the biggest slum in Africa, Kenya). There were many conversations, some fantastic resources shared, ideas for using skype for innovative learning and many new connections to make. The chat has been archived at storify Connected Classrooms with #skype2learn

The questions can be found here. question 2 “Why do you use skype?” has some powerful answers. Make sure you look at them.

Connected Classrooms with Skype

At 9am  Friday 31st October, the inaugual #skype2learn twitter chat will take place in Melbourne, Australia (gmt+11) time. This will be 6pm Eastern Standard or 3pm Pacific, USA on Thursday October 30th. See timeanddate for your day and time.

It takes place on the last day of the official Connected Educator Month and the theme will be “Connected Classrooms with Skype”. The hashtag will be #skype2learn. Skype has been a long term favourite of mine as it is free, user friendly and people across the globe are able to use it readily. The twitter chat will use some of the following questions over the hour of dedicated conversations:-

  1. Please introduce yourself, where you are from and what your interest is in education
  2. Why do you use skype for connecting?
  3. How have you used skype for learning?
  4. Share your favourite stories and learning outcomes
  5. Where do you find connections?
  6. What tips do you have for those who are new to using skype?

If this is your first experience with pariticpating in a twitter chat, see How to participate in a twitter chat

What other questions could we explore with each other. Please join us and learn of the power of videoconferencing and skype in the classroom.

Below is the scribd poster for this session

https://www.scribd.com/doc/244543616/Twitter-Chat-Connected-Classrooms-with-Skype