This was a busy afternoon with contacts in India requesting connections. Unfortunately, Victoria is in Daylight Saving time which pushes us 5.5 hours ahead of India. Therefore there was only a 1.5 hour opportunity of synchronous class time. My senior classes have finished school, but as I had a ‘replacement’ year 9 class. They connected for the first 50 minutes with a couple of girls who had finished their work connecting for the last 40 minutes. Remarkably we were able to fit a number of connections in.
Anu Sharma and her students from New Delhi, India shared a little about India and then students from both sides interacted with questions.
Next, it was a connection with Masterwide from India. They treated us to colourful dances and shared a little of their culture.
The next connection was with a private senior school in New Delhi, India. Their teacher is Arti Chopra, a fellow master Skype teachers. Her students asked quite sophisticated questions of the two year 8 girls, including what policies our government has for looking after our older people, how technology is used in disaster management etc, but Angelina was able to respond and ask similar questions of them.
The final call for our school day was from Anamika Jha, also from India. Her students shared some talents, asked us questions, sang their national anthem and to our consternation, asked us to sing ours. We do not sing our national anthem as often as we should, students are rather shy of singing and when students do sing it, it is accompanied by a taped recording. However, the two girls, to their credit did sing.
These skype linkups all worked well. They were spontaneous on our part, organised on India’s part but students love to learn from each other. The #studentvoice can be powerful and connections like these help them to collaborate beyond classroom walls.
A plea from one of my colleagues in India, Anamika Jha, for some of my students to videoconference (skype) with hers came at a time when I had my year 9/10 ICT class. She teaches at SD Public School, Delhi. Many of my students were absent and I was not certain that the students who were in my class would be confident enough or even willing to talk to her students. It would be well outside their comfort zone.
However, I did have two girls who were looking rather disengaged so I asked whether they would connect. As expected, they were reluctant but finally agreed. The skype call came in and I took them up to one of our small meeting rooms. Fortunately, the students from India were super confident, well prepared and surprisingly my girls appeared to understand them. The first question was asking the girls to share something about Australian culture. This flawed them and there was no response! Not to be deterred the Indian students proceeded to talk about their many religions, days of celebration and important people.
Next question was whether the girls watched Indian movies or knew any of their famous actors – again negative comments! At this point, I disappeared to find some objects of Australian culture – food, animals, sports equipment etc. When I returned the girls had relaxed and were highly engaged in conversations around favourite books, music, school subjects, sports, hobbies, money and the weather. The looks of boredom that I had seen 20 minutes before had changed into engaged, smiling and animated faces as they chatted away.
It reaffirmed that it is often best for the teacher to step right back and let the students work out the accents, speed and clarity of speech and to let them take control of the direction of learning.
Small groups of students connecting cross countries, cross cultures, different accents, speed of speech can have rich learning outcomes.
Feedback from their teacher
for this nice conversation with your students
my students were really excited to have words with your students
Read Bridie’s blog post. and Georgia’s post