Monthly Archives: May 2017

Mystery Skype with Georgia

selfie good one

Skype in the Classroom is an amazing resource. People across the world actively search for educators to connect with. Many of our mystery skype connections come from people’s requests to me! One such request was from Marina Tarughishvili , a teacher in Georgia. See her blog I was very surprised to see that we could connect in real time as Europe is often beyond our school hours. However, 9am their time, was 3pm our time.

pondering the clues

I was little nervous as I only speak English, and Marina said that her English was poor. My students printed off their names to share in introductions to the webcamera. Other signs included “Please repeat”. “thinking” and some of our questions were printed out. A cricket bat, money, toy koala, Australian flag and some sheep’s wool were ready to show if we worked out each other’s countries before our bell went.

Marina, brought the English teacher her with and their spoken English was clear and the accent relatively easy to understand. We flipped a coin to see who asked the first question. Our questions required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer but they asked good open ended questions of us eg what is part of our native environment, what is one of our native animals, do we have lots of rain, do we have a desert, what oceans are we near? etc. Eventually they worked out our country. Once our students discovered they were from Europe, they asked if their country started with a ‘G’? Students tried Germany, then Greece but as they had their computers switched on, discovered that Georgia was in Europe – a country they had never heard of.

When we showed our flag to them, they were quick to pull out a mobile phone, use search to locate their flag to show us.

It would be good to connect again to find out more about their country. In the meantime, that will be the student’s next task to create a Sway with multnodal information on Georgia.

The highlights:-

  • being able to make ourselves understood
  • seeing shy students starting to voluntarily come up to the webcamera and ask a question or share something
  • hearing one of my most challenging students ask if we could keep on doing this for the rest of the term!
  • seeing how engaged my class was
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An in-classroom interpreter!

Our school was culturally and geographically isolated. However, the cultural isolation is diminishing over the last few years, as many of the large local farms that are owned by corporations employ people from overseas. These different cultures come into Australia via a variety of visas.

The result is that we have a number of students of Philippine, Sri Lankan, African and Thai origins. Some have been Australia for a very short time so that very little English may be spoken. Our Education Department have a language school in Melbourne to help students, such as these, with their understanding and effective speaking of English. As we are 3.5 hours from Melbourne, technology has enabled students to learn English via videoconferencing with the Language School.

However, the tables were turned on a recent Mystery Skype session with a school in Thailand. Questions were asked of each other, that required only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The students in Thailand worked out we were from  Australia well before we worked out their country. The teacher, Thitaree Chanthawat, stated that her students were shy as English is not their first language. My students are also shy and English is their first language.

As there was time left, we started to show each other  cultural objects – our country flags, money, the time (on our mobile phones) and my students showed some sheep’s wool. One of their students showed a toy buffalo to the webcamera. In amongst the sharing, I asked Rapeeporn (or Cheer as we call her) to come forward and share her native Thai language with the Thai class. It was wonderful to see her immediately become confident, her obvious delight in being able to converse in her native tongue and to hear another language spoken fluently. However, before introducing herself, Rapeeporn, pressed her palms together and bowed to the Thai class. We later learned that this is wai.

If either class did not quite understand the other, then Rapeeporn interpreted. There was discussion about the use of buffalo on their farms. There were similarities – both schools were set in rural settings and small towns. However, there were 40-50 students in their class compared to our class of 22. There were no walls or oceans between us. It was if we were in the same classroom sharing conversations.

When my students were asked to reflect on the class, they stated that one of the highlights was hearing the Thai  language being spoken.

Some teachers ask me how I make the global connections. The teacher from Thailand found me on Skype in the Classroom and requested a Mystery Skype connection with me and my class.

 

Open Night – Open Classrooms

It was ‘Open Night’ at Hawkesdale P12 College . Families with students who are in year 6 are invited to come to our school, experience our friendly and welcoming community, take part in some classes and listen to stories from our students. These stories share what it is like for them to be at our school and it is hoped that the grade 6 students will come to us in year 7 – our first year of formal secondary schooling.

The science lab is converted into a wonderland of experiments, robotics are on display, cupcakes are decorated in the home economics centre, ceramic pots are quickly moulded and in the computer lab there are interactive connections to Russia and South Africa using skype.

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Parents and students were split into two groups. The first group were to play mystery skype with Tatyana Chernova from Moscow, Russia. First, Tatyana gave some clues as to where she lived. She had stacker or Matryoshka dolls to share over the web camera. She then showed us two wooden dolls in traditional costume. One parent immediately identified where Tatyana was from, based on her name!

Video call snapshot 278

The amazing veiws from Tatyana’s home (as seen through the webcameera)

We hung up on the skype call. Tatyana swapped from her home computer to her mobile phone, walked outside and showed us the amazing views from her home. We could see the expansive artificial lake, with the River Moksva to the right, the tall buildings of Moscow centre in the distance and even more fascinating the football stadium where the world cup will be played next year. What  amazing sights to see. Thanks Tatyana! If time permitted, Tatyana was going to share a presentation with us. If the call failed, I would have been able to share this with the group.

belinda rentsch daughter

The second group had a different mystery skype educator – Steve Sherman who was at a Science Fair near Durban, South Africa. He had found a quiet spot with wifi to connect with us. Students asked many questions (only with a yes/no answer) and finally worked out where he was from. He then proceeded to give them some maths brain teasers, by sharing his screen and the prepared slides. Students had to think of  a number between 1 and 63.

Video call snapshot 279

By following a number of slides, stating whether the number could be seen, Steve worked out the number that Layla had thought of. As we applauded Steve, the pictures he took of us started to come through in the skype chat.

dede sister

It was wonderful to work with these two educators and parents were amazed with the connections that are possible. It is easy to take for granted the wonderful outcomes that technology can bring to learning!

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Group photo that Steve Sherman took of us from Sth Africa!

Digital Literacy

Tonight, I presented for Eduwebinar in an online session on the topic of Digital Literacy, Skill Development and Curriculum Connections. This is a huge area for discussion, but demonstrates some of the literacies that I think are important.

See the presentation

Sea turtle research and conservation at Gnaraloo, Western Australia

class

Sometimes it is difficult to get expert speakers into my classrooms, as my Australian time zone means that while we are at school, the USA schools and many businesses, museums etc are closed.  So, it was with delight that I was alerted to a Sea Turtle research and conservation program at Gnaraloo, Western Australia, offering presentations through Skype in the Classroom.

I booked their Skype LessonSea turtle conservation where the outback meets the sea: Gnaraloo, Western Australia“.through the Skype in the Classroom website. Received a prompt reply confirming that they were able to present on the day and time requested.

turtle species

We added each other to our contact in skype. Did a test skype videoconference call, one hour prior, then direct called when the year 7 ICT class was in session.  Alistair Green was the presenter and he did a fabulous job, by introducing himself and effectively displaying his desktop so we could see the images and the video clips that he had added.

He made the lesson interactive by asking questions of the students, his pictures were colourful and engaging and the short video clips enabled us to see the turtles in action. The videos played in real time. Even though students would answer softly at times, it was surprising how well Alistair could hear us.

If you are looking for an expert speaker on conservation Alistair and the Gnaralaoo Research comes highly recommended for students of any age.

images of turtles