Tag Archives: skype in the classroom

The global collaborator: Discussions on #SDG11 – India/Australia

The United Nations have adopted a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goals) in a bid to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

One of the new ISTE Student Standards is the Global CollaboratorStudents use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

Sustainable Development Goal no. 11  of the United Nations SDG goals is to  “Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Both these goals were put into practice by communicating and connecting over skype  with Anu Sharma a teacher in New Delhi, India and year 8 her students. Her students were studying SDG goals, in particular the Sustainable Cities aspect. They wanted to discuss problems relating to traffic – pollution etc in our countries. The first connection was a mystery skype ( to work out what country each of us were from).

The second  involved discussions about traffic rules, how they work in each of our cities and the road signs that we use. Anu’s students would do some research work and find possible solutions to the prevalent problems, which would then be discussed in the second skype connection. Her students made display boards, PowerPoint presentations and prepared speeches.

hawkesdale sign

The main road through Hawkesdale

Dirt tracks around Hawkesdale

At first, I was reluctant. Our school is in a town with a population of 220. There is not much traffic and little or no pollution. Some of our roads are dirt, and the majority of vehicles comprise trucks, buses and through traffic. Their city in contrast has a population of more than 21 million, pollution is of high concern and there is high traffic usage.  However, we do have some problems with the health of our roads, slow moving vehicles eg tractors and animals such as kangaroos on the roads and although it is in stark contrast to Delhi could make good learning comparisons.  Australia ranks 20th on SDG index and India ranks 116th.

However, I agreed to connect. As most of my classes are in the morning, this did not match with the Indian times. The ideal connection would have been my year 8 ICT class communicating virtually.  Instead, I asked some students if they would come in at lunchtimes to connect. It was 1pm our time and 8:30am Indian time.

 

The three sessions that we connected were fascinating. My students had to listen intently to the accents of the Indian participants to ensure we could understand their speaking. It was much easier when they shared their screen and showed the powerpoint presentations, with imagery and some text. There were some similarities but many, many differences, some of which shocked us.

Similarities:-

  • many of our road rules were the same.
  • the majority of our road signs were similar
  • each country suffered from major potholes, but ours were caused by trucks, milk tankers, rain, poorly sealed roads, some of theirs were caused by earthquakes.

Differences:

  • sheer population numbers
  • traffic jams of gigantic proportions (their are no traffic jams in our local area)
  • Our traffic is light, theirs was incredibly heavy and busy
  • Pollution was heavy in Delhi, light in Hawkesdale
  • Another gaping difference was the method in which the potholes are repaired. They  showed pictures of 20 – 30 people working on the roads compared with us in Australia, using advance machinery and equipment.

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Outside their comfort zone

Video call snapshot 308

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.

Video call snapshot 303

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.Video call snapshot 307

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

thanks maam
for this nice conversation with your students
my students were really excited to have words with your students
tomm.

Read Bridie’s blog post. and Georgia’s post

Connected Classrooms: Global Classrooms

This was the theme for my presentation at the EduTECH conference in Sydney on Friday June 10th. It was a presentation given as part of the Library Congress. An online document was given to share resources and links. Following is my presentation, with a focus on stories for libraries.

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

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.

 

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

 

Mark Wood – Extreme Adventurer

mark wood

It was World Book Day. To celebrate this day schools across the world were given a rare opportunity to Skype with Mark Wood – a Cold Extremes Adventurer. He has trekked across the North Pole and the South Pole and led an expedition to climb Mt Everest, taking millions of students across the world with him, by using Skype webconference in.

boy asking question

I was asked whether our school would be interested in connecting with him as there were still some time slots available.Not to miss any of these wonderful opportunities, I invited the school.  For Mark, it was Thursday night at 10pm and Friday, 9am our time. We were the last school of the day. He had already been to schools in England, India, Croatia and 3 times to the USA.

Approximately 120 students from years 4-11 gathered in the library to hear Mark speak. He shared his stories, especially of his adventures to Mt Everest. His engaging speaking style, sense of humour and easy going manner endeared him to all who listened. Mark was motivating and inspiring. Unfortunately the Mt Everest expedition was called off just as they got to the death zone 200 metres from the top. One of the sherpas fell critically ill and the doctor experienced frozen feet. They made their way down and all survived.

dakota asking question

We see people attempting Mt Everest on the television news, read of it in the magazines or newspapers but here we were listening and interacting with someone who had actually been there. We caught the emotions, excitement, the extra details in stories and felt we experienced the adventure with him. Mark humanized the expeditions.

After 15 mins of story  telling , Mark handed over to the students to ask him questions. This was a wonderful interactivity that satisfied student curiosity and made us think of more questions.The young ones were less shy and asked most of them.

Some of their questions:

  1. What inspired you to be an explorer?
  2. How old were you when you had your first adventure?
  3. What was your favourite thing about climbing Mt Everest?
  4. Have you ever had a life threatening experience?
  5. How do you go and who do you go with?
  6. Was it cold at the North Pole?
  7. Have you ever forgotten anything?
  8. Have you had frostbite?
  9. What food and provisions do you take?

Our literacy teacher wrote new and key words on the whiteboard for discussion later. the older students immediately returned to class and wrote up some of what they learnt. When all the student stories were put together, there is almost  a complete script or picture of Mark’s presentation.

charlotte

His parting sentences reminded students that everything comes from education – if you think differently you will have a better life. The only thing preventing you is yourself. Earth will look after itself, but Mark wants to look after the human race.

Our school will continue to follow Mark on his second venture to conquer Mt Everest and be part of the new emerging stories. If you ever get an opportunity to hear Mark present, do no miss out. He was fantastic.