Learning from the top of the world!

screen dump of youtube vide

Our visiting virtual teacher introduced herself as being from America. Making sure  that my students knew where America was, the response from one 8 year old student was “somewhere on top of the world!” Rather funny as we are known as the land down under but could learn with someone on top of the world!

International Peace Day 2013 is celebrated on September 21st. Hello Little World Skypers skype group discussed the possibility of  google hangouts connecting global classrooms to share the meaning and importance of peace for us all. As Janet Barnstable the co-ordinator of this project said:

We want to inspire others! Thanks to those involved for being pioneers!

Initially, I wanted to use my year 8 ICT class but it was the last day of term 3 and school finished earlier. My year 3/4 class was the only possibility but they are very young and their behaviour can not always be guaranteed. This lesson time was an awkward one to connect with other classes. However, I  discussed International Peace day with them and the meaning of peace on Wednesday and students drew their thoughts on what peace means to them using using MS Paint on the netbooks or doodle buddy on the iPads.

Lorraine Leo, a very special colleague from USA offered to come in with us and share what her class did for Peace Day and Sebastian Panakal from India also agreed to join us. This morning, we participated in the google hangout. Students came up to the webcamera and shared their image and spoke about its meaning. Lorraine then shared her screen with us and using Scratch shared two songs on Peace that her students sang together with some pictures.

The setup

The setup

What worked well!

  • the students love to talk with and learn about and from others across the world especially when they are from on “top of the world”
  • Lorraine and I had tested out ghangouts two days earlier and we connected an hour before the actual linkup today to ensure all was well.
  • google hangouts was a stable platform as my laptop was ‘wired’ in for best video and audio
  • ghangouts allowed us to record the session and share with others across the world who might be interested.
  • as it was the last day of term and as we are experiencing football finals, we came to school dressed in our footy team colours. This gave an element of disguise for the students.
  • screen sharing was possible, so Lorraine could share with us from her end. The quality was great!
  • all students shared – they went outside their comfort zone and spoke reasonably confidently
  • they were engaged and had fun!
  • the lighting for Lorraine was great and when Sebastian came in over skype he also had a wonderful background and good lighting.
sharing the picture!

sharing the picture!

The challenges

  • a rustic setup. Used my laptop perched on top of a box on the table so its web camera could be used and students and their work seen. The laptop was also connected to the whiteboard so that students could see it all.
  • The usb multidirectional microphone failed to work at the last moment, so we resorted to the laptop microphone which is not good quality.
  • the lighting in the year 3/4 room is not good. Despite shutting the blinds and covering the door with black paper, we had to switch off the lights and the outdoor light still shone through behind us.
  • Unfortunately,  I gave Sebastian, from India, the incorrect time. India is 4 1/2 hours behind us and not 4 hours. My usual confusion of time zones! However Sebastian and his three students were able to videoconference with us over skype soon after the hangout had ended. The students loved to hear the accents there!
  • the data point was not working in the year 3/4 room but fortunately we had a technician in so it was fixed. It is essential to wire in for best possible quality.
Waving farewell from India

Waving farewell from India

Questions to consider

  • would  screensharing the student work be better than holding a piece of paper up to the camera – but then they would not be seen (which would work for those who have privacy issues)
  • Should we  make it more professional or do we just let the session flow?
  • spending some time rehearsing with the students
  • starting with a screen shot of International Peace Day
  • classroom lights on or off?

Lots to keep playing with and improving upon. But we were happy with our impromptu, unrehearsed linkup and so happy that Sebastian and his students could come in over skype! Both google hangouts and skype provided good quality on the day.

We would have loved to have linked with Tatyana Chernaya in Moscow and her students but the time zone differences made it impossible. Instead some students have added their feelings on peace to her padlet Peace wall. Make sure you take a look at this inspiring collaborative effort and perhaps leave your comment there as well!

To those who read this post, we wish you peace!

Link to the hangout on youtube.

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