Tag Archives: skype

Mystery Animal

Video call snapshot 151.png

As our school teaches mandarin Chinese, any connection with a school in China is of special interest. The assistant principal of an Bozhouu International School in China found me on the Skype in the Classroom website.

As we had already completed a mystery skype connection, Richard suggested that we do a mystery animal game this time, using skype as the videoconferencing tool. He had prepared a wonderful sheet to share with the students bearing images of African animals complete with the names in both English and Chinese.
mystery animal1

Following is how it looked:-

  • Each class had previously chosen an animal from the sheet.
  • My students  had printed off their names on an A4 sheet for clearer understanding.
  • Boxhou rang us on skype. There were technical difficulties on their end but all was resolved within 10 mins.
  • Students played paper rock scissors over the camera to see who was to start first. Hawkesdale, Australia won.
  • Students had to ask questions only with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. eg Is your animal grey? Is your animal a carnivore?, does it have a long nose or trunk?  etc.
  • They took it in turns to ask questions and each student would introduce themselves one at a time.

There was much laughter in the classroom on both sides as we tried to understand each other’s accents, names etc. It took approximately 20 mins for each side to actually determine the other’s animals. All the Chinese students stayed in over their recess period to complete the  a second mystery animal.


Student reflections on their individual blogs:-




Teaching, learning and “Presenting on the fly!”

Shannon from Taiwan

My presentation at #EdutechAU ran for 1 hour and 15 mins and was to be a combination of a presentation, interactive learning and some hands-on. I allowed 30-45mins for the interactivity. Some participants used the backchannel to ask questions, which I duly answered. When I asked for suggestions as to what people would like to learn or see demonstrated, I was surprise to hear one attendee ask me to demonstrate skype.

Rather taken aback as I assumed that nearly everyone knew what it was like, I had to think on the fly! I showed them my HLW Skypers group where people are usually about 24/7 but as it was 1:30pm most of the US, Europe and Africa would be asleep, leaving possibilities of Asian colleagues who were probably teaching. I put in a quick plea for help

my plea for help

In my haste I wasn’t very clear with the message, told the audience they may have to wait a while and we went on to play kahoot. Within 10 minutes, Shannon Huang from Taiwan responded. A real connection was made, the bandwidth was perfect and many of the advanced features of skype demonstrated. Shannon talked about her students’ work which we could see just behind her. Then I asked a favour to see whether we could trial the skype language translator. We had to hang up, I set the translator on, rang back and much to our amusement watched it try and interpret our conversation.

What an amazing and perfect demonstration, on the fly, in real time to show how well we can engage with Asia. Thanks a heap, Shannon!



Join the global Skypeathon Dec 3 and 4

the girls1.jpg

Skype has always been one of my favourite tools as it is user friendly, capable of being used across all cultures and countries, is free and it just works! It works both at school and at home on our often poorer bandwidth.

Skype are encouraging educators across the world to get involved in a 2 day skypeathon to celebrate learning across borders on Dec 3rd and 4th. They hope to travel 1 million virtual miles in that time and encourage classrooms to get connected and enjoy the learning that can come by being connected.

Our first connection will be with Anthony Salcito, vice president of World Wide Education at Microsoft in Washington, USA. This will be at our lunchtime tomorrow Dec 3rd but Anthony will still be enjoying Dec 2nd. We hope to share objects and images that reflect the Australian culture and the place where we live. This will add 10,180 miles to the 1 million miles tally!

@SkypeClassroom tweeted:


Are you taking part in this? Who are you connecting with? Simply tweet your connections with the hashtag #skypeathon and the miles will be added.

A glimpse into a Chinese seaside resort – from the classroom!

Being part of the China Connections global project with Julie Lindsay and Katie Grubby has provided students in our remote rural school with some amazing opportunities to develop their understanding of the Chinese culture, language, history and geography etc. (Students in our school learn mandarin Chinese.)

One such live connection involved a group of year 9/10 girls using a skype videoconference call with Blair Li, a young girl who is passionate about developing the sport of surfing in China. She came from Xinjiang  far away from sea to a Hainan, discovered the  Baysurf club and obtained work at one of the resorts.

Blair Li

As our school is located approximately 25 mins from the sea in a highly popular tourist area and as surfing is a popular sport there, this was of high interest to us. There is something surreal about taking a virtual tour of the resort, seeing the bar where the tourists are sitting and capturing an insight into the outdoor setting that Blair was part of.

Skype was used for the vidoeconference. Blair talked a little about her work, what life was like, the fact that this current resort area used to be a Chinese village etc. The girls had pre-written questions to ask her. Unfortunately our connection lagged as we started this process and it was difficult to catch the answers.
Their questions included:

  • What do you like about surfing?
  • How did you learn about surfing?
  •  How did she discover that she likes surfing?
  • Was it a hard decision to make – to leave your stable job?
  • Why did you give up your job to teach surfing?
  • How many people know how to swim? Children?
  • How do they learn to swim?
  • Are there any other surfers like you living next to the surf?
  • How do Chinese people look upon women surfing?
  • Does the sea scare you at all?
  • How good and reliable is the surf where you are? Can people swim there? How big are the swells?
  • How hard is it to get people interested in surfing? What do you do to encourage them to surf?
  • Do you have to teach people how to swim first?
  • Do you surf in competitions?
  • How does rural China differ to the city China?

Thanks Blair for a fascinating connection.

Read more about Surfing Hainan

Talk of the School!

china todayTalk of the School …. but, no, not our school, Hawkesdale P12 College in Australia,  but Yeh Wah International Education School of Yantai, Shandong. Following is a comment within an email from David Deeds, a teacher at this school,  after an exciting Skype linkup.

Paul (Chinese computer teacher) and students had a great face-to-face Monday.  It’s the talk of the school.😉

Two classes are combined

Two classes are combined

After several test linkups between teachers, using skype, and finding that it was not always stable and bandwidth not always reliable, it was decided to connect our year 7 students with a combined year 7 class in Yeh Wah International Education School. Their students are predominantly Chinese with some Korean, Japanese and other Asian students.

some of the girls in the class

some of the girls in the class

In the past, China has been one of the most difficult of countries to directly connect with, so it was with some nervousness that the video call was made. Problems with my laptop, the need to restart it etc meant that all the pre-setup of audio and video was lost. This took some minutes to rectify but once the Chinese students could see us, there were  the sounds of great excitement and interest amongst the Chinese students. This excitement was a little difficult to contain at times and made hearing and listening challenging at times.

How the 45 minute connection looked:-

  • our students  introduced themselves with both their Chinese and English names using printouts to display to the webcam.
  • several Chinese students introduced themselves. Much to the delight of Jess in my class, there was a Jessica in the Chinese class.
  • We showed a lamington (cake), vegemite, aussie rules footy, cricket and basketball. Emerson showed a picture of a horse as she loves horse riding.
    phone use showing vegemite
  • They showed us some of their current magazines, including their games magazines
  • Immediately, one of my boys went to the staff room, grabbed a newspaper and showed it.
  • After Emerson showed her picture of the horse, one of the Chinese girls brought her phone to the camera and showed us her pet dog. We asked how many in their class had dogs and only she had one. Everyone in my class had a pet dog. However many on both sides had a cat for a pet. Immediately, one of the Chinese girls shared a pic of her dog using her mobile phone.

    Showing a pet dog

    Showing a pet dog

  • They wanted to know what we do in our spare time.
  • We wanted to know how many students were in their class – 16 boys and 19 girls.

the time

To finish the class, we took a selfie for the records.

Three class selfie

Three class selfie

No formal structure had been planned for the connection, but each country had some objects to share and show and my students had printed their names on an A4 sheet of paper in both English and Pinyin. However it worked remarkably well. There was lively chatter at times due to the excitement. Students made the most of spontaneous learning by showing pics on their mobile phones to share over the webcamera.

Following are some of the responses from students re “Why they enjoyed the skype linkup!”

Tim: I think that it is a good way to learn about China because they live in China and they can also speak English so we can ask them questions. It was cool to talk to people from far away in a different time zone.

Abbey: I enjoy it because we get to talk to the country (and language) that we learn about at school.

Clem: i enjoyed the skype with china it was some times hard to understand them but it was fun

Emmerson:I enjoyed this session because we got to link up with kids the same age as us and they lived in a different country. I think this is a good way to learn about China because we get to learn new facts about the country from people that live in china.

Georja: I really enjoyed our link up and hope to do it again because it was good as we also learn Chinese at our school.

Jess: My favourite part of the link up was learning that there was another Jess in that year seven class.

Jack: the session was fun because we got to learn about their school and their lifestyle. it is a good way to learn about china because they can tell us in person if it is right or wrong.

I learned that all of the class have phones and not very many of them have pets which I find odd bacause everybody in my class have at least one pet.

Milla: I really enjoyed the link up because it was really interesting to see the difference between them and us eg the technology. They had macbooks and  everyone had a mobile phone. Some had iPads. Yet, we also had similarities eg magazines, pets, liked playing video games.

Read student blog posts summarizing the learning

Tim Skype with China

EmmersonThe linkup with China

Jess Link Up in China

Georja Linkup

Mystery Skype -ISTE session with MIE

Please note that these are rough notes taken during the ISTE15 conference

Wendy Norman started the morning introducing Mystery Skype

The amazing capacity of Skype and videoconferencing (in the words of students)

  • gives emotional attachment to connections and learning.
  • Ultimate field trip – can travel to the other side of the world
  • Live learning – not textbook
  • Allows access to different viewpoints’
  • Get all kids especially girls in school
  • Social learning
  • Learning through conversations
  • Can do something about bettering the world
  • Making a difference in the world
  • Make for better global citizens

Mark Wood

mark wood

Mystery skype to find out where Mark Wood is going on his next expedition

Questions asked

  • In the northern hemisphere? -no
  • Is the ecosytem tundra – yes
  • Is there ocean on any part of the country – yes
  • Does the name of the country have 2 syllabus – no but are we really talking about country
  • Will you be visiting one of the US? – no
  • Will you need cold weather gear? – yes
  • Does the country belong to no-one? – second part of that is right but the first part of country?
  • Do you need a boat – no, but we might need a boatd
  • Are you going to where Santa lives? Santa lives in Lapland, so no, not going to Lapland

Answer – Russia across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole

What I see and what I smell inspires me and I want to inspire others through technology, students can relate to us. Get students to look at what we are doing – think about our planet in a new way. Re -look at our planet.

http://www.markwoodexplorer.com/ and like it on facebook


Join skype in education to take learning into the future

Skype Translator

Mystery Skype OneNote Book – full of resources for teachers

Hashtags:  #msftedu, #MIEEpert15, #edtech, #@NCCEchat, #ISTE2015, #edu

Teacherslifeforme: Mike Soskil, Kenya schools update

KEGODE  #Livingstone@ISTE  Twitter or FB

Shannon Miller:  Connect–examples of connecting with authors, Rainbow lo


LKEGODE  #Livingstone@ISTE  Twitter or FB

Shannon Miller:  Connect–examples of connecting with authors, Rainbow loom

Hashtags:  #msftedu, #MIEEpert15, #edtech, #@NCCEchat, #ISTE2015, #edu

Teacherslifeforme: Mike Soskil, Kenya schools update

The Potential Power of Social Media

One of our school’s exciting connections this year was with Livingstone Kegode in Kenya, Africa. We met and spoke with some of his students as part of our parent information evening session for potential year 7 students in 2016. Michael Soskil from the USA was also visiting him.

Video call snapshot 61

Livingstone is a truly inspirational teacher who has connected his students from the biggest slum in Africa to the world with his laptop. In recognition of his amazing work, he was awarded a Microsoft Innovative Educator but was denied a visa to enter the USA for the conference earlier this year. Further ground work was made this year to ensure as far as humanly possible his visa would be accepted to attend ISTE 2015 – the big Technology Teachers Conference.  He would only know the success of this application today….. and again it was denied! He informed us of this circumstance via our skype group chat.

letting us know

To show the incredible spirit displayed by Livingstone, here is a follow up comment from him.

what doesnt kill hi

He received many messages of disappointment and sympathy from other members of the group. But then, the potential of proactiveness set in. Mike Soskil suggested that:-


but note that the twitter handle should be @rec54. Several of us tweeted out and almost immediately we got a response tweet back.

Richard Culatta is the head of the US Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology.

Although we can only hope that there is still some hope in getting Livingstone to ISTE, this scenario shows that power of a global community in supporting its own. Let’s hope that the visa can be reversed! If not we will use other means of ensuring Livingstone is part of the conference.