Tag Archives: Tatyana Chernaya

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!

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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.

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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!


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


European Day of Languages

One thing about being a connected educator, means that you hear about many of the special International Days and celebrations that other countries participate in. One such day is the European Day of Languages, celebrated on 23rd September, 2013.  This was brought to my attention following lengthy discussions on the HLW Skypers skype group. Teachers were discussing how they would celebrate it and how they could connect their students to countries whose language they were learning.

Tatyana Chernaya, of Moscow, was seeking partnerships for her students. As we were on school holidays, and I happened to be in Melbourne at my son’s unit, I was able to connect over skype with Tatyana and one of her language students. It was with quite some surprise that he shyly told me that he was really interested in languages and could in fact speak three fluently: Russian, English, French and German. (I did not have the heart to tell him that I could only speak English despite learning French at school and have retained little knowledge of it).

Unfortunately, in Australia and perhaps as we are an island and reasonably remote from bordering countries, our students, in the main, do not see much purpose in learning another language. Hence although it is required that students learn another language other than English from early year levels through to year 8 (in our school), they learn culture rather than the language. Our school teaches mandarin Chinese but students do not speak it well. Yet, visiting Chinese students to our school speak English well.

Taking a Russian languages student out into the streets of Melbourne

Taking a Russian languages student out into the streets of Melbourne

As I was in Melbourne and had mobile internet access, I was able to virtually “walk” him and Tatyana out into the lovely ‘leafy’ street that my son lives in and share a little of Melbourne with them and the context in which the English language is spoken. Tatyana’s students blogs can be found at Well Done.

How important do you think that it is to learn another language? What languages do you speak? What languages are taught in your school? How do your students view the learning of languages.

International Peace Day 2013 through the eyes of the Young!

International Peace Day is today and is one of global significance.

Year 3/4 ICT class have shared what peace means to them by creating images. These have been put on the presentation below together with some of their quotes. Their ideas varied and were often different to mine. At times, I started to advise them, then thought ‘no’, they are young, they see the world in a different light, from a different perspective and limited experience.  One student sees peace as colourful. I see peace as the opposite to war and war is epitomized as black and white colours in my mind.

Some further activities participated in.

    1.  took part in a google hangout and shared their views with the globe.
    2. some students added their feelings about peace onto Tatyana Chernaya’s peace wall. Why don’t you and your students add to this wonderful wall?

Today, Steve Sherman organised a hangout with Ena Hewitt, who had fascinating experiences to share of her family’s time living in a shack in the township in Mamelodi, South Africa. One of her quotes was quite powerful. She had taken peanut cookies to a lady who lived in the township which kick started the notion of living in the township for a month. Ena said “What are your peanut cookie moments? What can you do to build bridges rather than build walls?”

However, this post will finish with a quote from one of my young year 3 students, Nadia:

I think peace means hope, joyful and means no arguing. I also think it is great to have a special peace day and to enjoy yourself on this special day.

What did you do for International Peace Day? What can you share with us?

Not alone in a laptop!

Over the last 6 years I have had many exciting skype linkups both as an individual, a teacher and with classes, but last week I experienced one of the most emotional of my videoconferencing life.

Tatyana Chernaya of Moscow was looking for some global teachers to skype into her school for International Peace Day. The students there had been reflecting on and discussing world peace. However, this was not an ordinary school but one for students with special needs and many of their classes are online.

A time for connection was set and 15 mins prior to the conference, Tatyana messaged to make sure I was online. Skype soon alerted me to the incoming call. As my webcam took focus, I could see a class of students with special needs in front of me and a number of teachers with laptops in their hands. Thinking they were videoing the skype call, we proceeded with mystery skype. The students had to work out what country I was from with questions that just required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The questions flowed in and I could hear them clearly

Did I live in Europe? Did I live in USA? Did I live near the sea? etc

Then, quite quickly and smoothly the webcam panned around the classroom to a corner that was not initially visible to me and again quite clearly I heard a question

Are you from Australia?

But that question came from a laptop that the webcam was focussed on! It was then that I realised the laptops held individually by adults,  each had a student in them, beaming in from home but still part of this live linkup. I was not the only one in a laptop. That nearly brought me to tears!

Peace was discussed – the relative ‘safeness’ of our countries – Russia and Australia. Discussion came from both the students in the physical classroom and those in the laptops.  Students sang me a wonderful song. As the conference drew to an end, the ‘special needs’ students in the classroom and in the laptops all said goodbye and thanks!

I subsequently released tears as it was such an emotional and special linkup, made even more interesting in that when I was growing up, Australia was part of the ‘Cold War’ with Russia and here we now are discussing International Peace.

Thanks to Tatyana, the staff and students for all the effort that must have gone in to bringing these students together for this videoconference.