It is 30 degrees in Boston, USA according to Lorraine Leo, a teacher there but she showed photos of snow. My students related that it will be 30 and 31 degrees here in southern Australia, but that meant it would quite a hot day for us! How could this be?
It was the first ICT class for year 8 ICT – a group of 23 students. I like how Reinhard Marx in Germany introduces his students to global connections in their very first week of school to set the scene for a year of global collaboration and communication.
A skype chat with a great colleague, Lorraine Leo alerted me to the fact that she had just been notified that there was no school that day due to the heavy snow falls in Boston, USA. This was the second consecutive day this week and students had also missed school last week for 2 days due to snow. A couple of nights ago Australian television news actively highlighted the potential weather extremes on New York City.
Always aware of using up online colleagues’ spare time to connect with my students, I asked whether she might skype us the next morning to share the weather and snow falls with my year 8 class.
Lorraine kindly agreed and we discussed the possible tools. We would start with a mystery skype, using skype, then use the virtual classroom software, Blackboard Collaborate to share images, Lorraine’s audio to present and enable students to use the chat to ask questions, provide feedback on the images and generally share. As a backup I created a backchannel in Todaysmeet Whatweather for conversations and skype would be used for the video projection. (we did not use this during the presentation but in the last 8 mins of class time, students quickly answered some questions that I put in there).
Students were quick to work out where Lorraine was from. They then logged into Blackboard Collaborate. However, we faced technical hitches as many computers had to download the launcher and experienced a slow bandwidth, took a long time to do so. We perservered and started with the presentation, with some students sharing desktops!
Lorraine expertly talked about the current conditions and had some wonderful photos to share with the students. Students asked some great questions in the chat, were quiet, engaged and listened intently. The subject of 30 degree temperatures was compared and what a great global lesson – different countries have different units of measurement!
Below are the comments from the students sharing what they liked about this synchronous lesson and some of what they learnt!
Kailyn: I liked that we are talking to someone from another country and learning a bit about the different things that happen. I learnt that it is snowing there at the moment while here it is rather sunny and that over there it is night time, and here it is morning as we have just started school.
Dharma:- liked the part of the pictures of how big the snow is, and telling us about the schools sometimes being closed off.
Lisa: It was good to see the photos so I could see what Lorraine was actually talking about. Mrs Leo explained things really well.
Kyra: choose where the person was from. She said it really clearly and showed the photos of what the snow looked like especially as I have never seen snow.
Chelsea: I liked how we could see the pictures and I have never seen snow before so it was interesting to see it through pictures.
Sophie: I liked seeing the pictures and seeing what it is like in Boston.
Vesna: I liked using BbC as it is easy to connect with someone rather than skype which can glitch easily. I liked the way she presented it as we had pictures to see what it looked like and not just telling us about it which made it more interesting. I liked the flowers representing spring with the icicles in the window.
Isaac: The snow was pretty cool! It looks pretty fun! I liked the church picture with the person skiing in front of.
Kyle: I liked seeing how much snow there was. I liked learning about what happens in Boston from someone who lives there. The people walking on the pathway to their house with snow piled up on both sides.
Jonas: I liked seeing how much snow there was around the houses and seeing how high the snow was. I liked the people walking to their houses with the snow piled hight.
Zac: I liked the pictures of the snow and the one with the man snowboarding on the hill where a church was located.
Terri, I liked all the pictures of the snow. It was really interesting. I wish it would snow here. I learnt that snow can be very heavy and lie in big heaps.
Skyla: I liked seeing all the snow because we do not get it here. It was interesting to see how cold it gets. I learned that it snowed in Boston. I thought it was always hot. As when I visited USA it was really hot.
Teneika: I learnt that there was snow in America because my Dad’s family live in America and they have never mentioned snow. I liked how she had pictures as she was talking so you could see rather than just listen.
Lucy: That my technology worked and I got into BbC. Mrs Leo took time to speak to us. I liked seeing the snow as it is a novelty to us. I learnt that it is a lot different over there like weatherwise at the minute.
Taylah: I liked every picture that was shown , was explained by Mrs Leo. I learnt that it is snowing over there, so the students cannot go to school and have 2 days off last week and 2 days off this week.
Caitlin: I liked how she taught us about Boston- the weather and what she does in her spare time and that she is a teacher. I found it interesting that it snows over there and that she has 238 students in her school.
Thank you Lorraine for allowing me to use the photos that you took the time to take for us. As you can see, the students frequently commented on seeing what it looked like rather than hearing what it was like! A memorable photo was this one, of roses (a sign of spring) in a florist shop with the tell tale signs of the current weather conditions (icicles) in the window.