Category Archives: skype

The Australian Flag flew high above Sparkles Fire House

Australian flag
Australian flag above Sparkles’ Fire House

 The Australian flag flew proudly high above Sparkles’ Clubhouse  but  this Fire House was not in Australia but in  Arkansas, USA. Dayna Hilton  and Molly, one of her Dalmation Fire Dogs visited us  from Arkansas, using skype, to talk about their work in  the Keep Kids Fire Safe™ Foundation‘s “Learning about Fire Safety can be FUN!” program. This program is sponsored by First Alert and State Farm.

dayna

Dayna had worked out the distance between us as 9,402 miles! She talked about fahrenheit temperatures and brushfiresn- quite foreign to our students who are into celsius, kilometres and bushfires! We asked what the distance would be in kilometres and techno savvy Dayna said she would quickly work it out. She inmediately pulled out her iphone and quickly asked Siri who calculated it efficiently We could see and hear Siri’s response immediately.

IMG_5249

With great expertise, Dayna shared images and videos using her iPad up against the web camera for us to see.

sharing pics on ipad with uis

Sharing pics on ipad with us

Dayna was teaching my year 8 ICT class which is a challenging one with a number of highly disengaged students. However, she engaged them fully with her appealing manner,  interacting with the students, asking questions and showing us Molly her beautiful dalmation. Animals are always winners! The background set was just delightful – lots of colour, bright red set giving a real theme around fire. Molly kindly obliged us with some of her tricks at the end of the connection!

Dayna and Molly

Two years ago, Dayna and Tango (another Dalmation fire dog) skyped with us. See the video. Next we would love to connect our CFA (Country Fire Authority) elective students with Dayna to share experiences and what we do in Australia.

Thanks Dayna, Lorraine Leo (who introduced us) and Skype in the Classroom where Dayna offers to connect to anyone around the world.

Behind Closed Doors: Sebastian guest educator from Kerala, India

cropped selfieThis week is Education Week in Victoria, Australia. To celebrate teaching and learning, our school opened its doors today on the theme: “Behind Closed Doors”. Grandparents and parents were invited in to the classrooms between 11:30am and 2:30pm.

Year 7 ICT class demonstrated the power that technology can bring in opening up the doors globally. Sebastian Panakal kindly accepted the invitation to play “Mystery Skype” with the students, then show his wife’s Seena’s wonderful samples of origami and and answer any further questions.

whole class with Sebastian

Students had to think of one question to ask Sebastian, that required only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, whilst I solved the many problems I was facing with my laptop. Sebastian waited extremely patiently whilst my laptop rebooted. Students gradually worked out where Sebastian was from, using visuals and accents as ancilliary clues. Hamish actually worked out the name of the city – Kerala! Students had previously asked if he lived in the northern hemisphere, near a tropical forest, near the Pacific Ocean etc. Once they knew it was India, the next questions were

  • Do you live in southern India?
  • Do you live in a big city?
  • Do you live in Kerala?

showing origami

Sebastian proceeded to share the wonderful origami that his wife Seena creates. I hope he could hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the students as the webcam beamed them back to us. She shares her work over youtube.

As it was breakfast time for Sebastian he told us he was having Chappati & Daal – further learning as to what this actually looks like. Appam (made of rice) and curry was also part of it. Our students had had toast, toasties or cornflakes with banana!

Then he  invited us to Skype with “Sandesh – Be the Change” learners as part of training of a team of social entrereneurs ready to empower poor at the bottom of the pyramid in Kerala. The Prime Minister is eagerly promoting “Make in India” – Kerala Government is keen on digital democracy, empowering the marginalized. What a fabulous event for us to be involved in.

another origami

Read some of the student blog posts and what they thought about it all:

  1. Kiara’s post
  2. Dominic’s post
  3. Emmerson’s post
  4. Tim’s post
  5. Megan’s post

An amazing visit to Kenya!

Each year our school holds an information evening for prospective parents of year 7 students for 2016. Being a small school, we try to show some of the best aspects of learning at our school. Again, I was asked whether a global connection might be made using skype to demonstrate the ability of technology to break down the barriers of geographical and cultural isolation and take learning beyond the textbook.

Govinda Panthy from Nepal was approached  as the first earthquake was still making headlines in our media.  He was unable to connect as he had an important meeting in Katmandu. Livingstone from Kenya was also asked. Michael Soskil, from the USA.  was visiting with him and they had been actively seeking people to skype with a few days earlier to connect students fom the Cheery School in the biggest slum in Africa but as there was no word from them, Sebastian Panakal, from Kerala, India again kindly consented to skype with us. Just as the first group was about to come into the computer lab, Sebastian warned us that his power may be about to go out and then……. it must have as he immediately went offline!

Video call snapshot 59

Instead, current year 7 students showed some of the global projects that they had been involved in. Fortunately there was a 45 min break as in that time, Livingstone skyped me to say they would be ready for us whenever we were! Student helpers quickly gathered up some objects to share as we were told that the Kenyan students were young and did not speak much English. The Kenyan students attended the HIP academy, a rural school in Kenya.

Video call snapshot 60

As the second group of parents and students entered into the room we called Livingstone on the video camera and commenced with a mystery skype challenge. The prospective students in Hawkesdale posed the following questions that could only have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question :-

  1. Are you south of the equator? Answer = no, our country covers the equator
  2. Do you have a big rainforest? Answer: no
  3. Do you have lions? Answer: yes
  4. Are you in Africa? Answer: yes
  5. Are you from Kenya? Answer: yes

The sight of the dark coloured faces made it reasonably easy for us to work out where they were from. They worked out where we wer from with some visual clues. They had a paper poster world map to refer to, we had online maps on our computers.

Video call snapshot 61

A young Kenyan girl then taught us swahilli by showing us toy animals that Michael had brought with him to Kenya. She spoke the word in English, then Swahilli, we then had to repeat. She did not move onto the next animal until we pronounced it reasonably well. What a brave effort on this girl’s part as none of these students or teachers had used skype before. Then to our delight, the power of the webcamera was shown, when Michael took Livingstone’s laptop outside and showed us the surrounding countryside. One of the school volunteers then explained about the gardens that they were growing to supply food for the children to eat at lunch – corn, pumpkins etc A donkey could be seen in the distance. The picture was crystal clear and it was as if we were actually there!

Video call snapshot 62

Parents came up to us afterwards to say they had no idea we could even do this! What an amazing introduction to the learning that even small country schools can make on a global scale! A fantastic connection – thanks Livingstone and Michael for making this possible!

Read some about our linkup from Michael’s perspective Adventures in Kenya Series – Day 9 – From Mukuyuni to Nakuru

Mystery Skype video messages

Teaching in Australia, means that our time zone makes it one of the hardest to connect synchronously with others.

A request via Skype in the Classroom to do a mystery skype with a class from Portugal was read with real interest. However, our time zone is not good for working synchronously with students from Europe, coupled with the fact that 99% of my students catch a bus back to their farms and small towns which can involve more than an hour on the bus.

This was explained in a message back to the requesting teacher (Ana), but instead of giving up, Ana suggested we ask 10 clues via a video message. Students in each class would then work out where the mystery class was from. This was a new idea to me and it is always exciting to learn with others, but it was also a little daunting as I was not sure what this would look like.

Here is what it did look like!

  • Ana’s class sent us a video of her class sharing 10 clues. Her students were in pairs sharing one clue.
  • We watched it and gained ideas for our clues.
  • An answergarden allowed students to add short answers to what they think of when they hear “Australia”
    our culture in answer garden
  • A google document was set up for my students to collaborate on, and as a pair share their clue. Each clue had to be different. The link to the document was shared on my class blog for them to access.
  • We quickly filmed pairs of students sharing their clues, uploaded it to youtbe and shared link with Ana

  • Accents were a stumbling block for us, so we listened, rewinded and worked out their 10 clues. They were written on the board.

    resized clues
  • Students then proceeded to search for the answers to the clues. The music clue stumped us we could not work out whether their famous music was fun, or funk, or folk but then after some research and narrowing down the country to Portugal, some girls worked out it was “fado”
  • Finally most pairs of students worked out the mystery country might be Portugal. Here is our video response which has been sent to Ana and her class who do actually come from Portugal

As this was all in progress, students were highly engaged, actively searching, collaborating and brainstorming together. Further learning took place by more intense searching on some of the clues eg what exactly is fado music, where is Portugal in world soccer etc.

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……