Posted in Learning, Technology

The power of Classroom Connections

In my second year of teaching, I began a classroom blog. That was my first adventure into classroom connections using modern technology…penpals had been a less than successful experiment in my first year!

In my fourth year, I was still blogging and came across @misskyritsis on Twitter. I have a feeling that we connected our classrooms using a Mystery Skype format and then a few weeks later, we connected with another Year 4 class to discuss and share our Christian Studies presentations about Religious Festivals. We Skyped @misskyritsis again, plus another class to share our Genius Hour ideas and progress. Kids love talking to other ‘real’ kids!

My Year 4’s began participating in the 100 Word Challenge (#100wc), giving and receiving feedback on other students writing. How powerful!

Last year, I was still blogging, Skyping and sharing comments and blog posts with classrooms all around the world. My Year 2s helped me write draft comments, reply to other blog visitors and broadened their geographical knowledge of country location due to the variety of people visiting our blog!

This year, I teach Preps on a Thursday afternoon. We do a poem and craft related to the sound of the week and then visit the library. Throughout the year, I stumbled across a Prep blog, which I showed the class. They loved seeing other ‘real’ Preps’ work and writing, so we began commenting. We Skyped them and their teacher @kaz_phi and talked about the similarities and differences between our school – their school is near a beach!! During our Bookweek, they Skyped us to share a picturebook that they had reflected in their artwork…so we listened to the story and created our own artwork too!

Yesterday was my birthday and the highlight of classroom connections is receiving a gorgeous audio message of a class of Preps singing Happy Birthday to me- we’ve never met in person, but it was so beautiful to hear it!

Why SHOULD you connect with other classes?

  • geography skills
  • authentic speaking and listening skills
  • to share ANY aspect of your learning
  • to learn from another class
  • to widen your audience for class presentations
  • debating purposes

Why AREN’T you connecting with other classes?

Posted in Learning, Technology

Technology Tuesdays – Skype

Yesterday I held my final Technology Tuesday session for Term 3. The topic was Skype, which I use quite regularly in my classroom. Being 4.5 hours from Adelaide and 6 hours from Melbourne, we don’t get the same range of guest speakers that other schools may get in larger cities. I find that Skype can be fantastic for this, as it allows the students to still talk to an expert – and their teacher isn’t an expert at everything!!

I have also used Skype to chat with authors, such as Wendy Orr when my class read Nim’s Island. To actually ask the author about the book, instead of guessing what she was thinking or where she got her ideas from, was an amazing opportunity. Sharing lessons and projects with classes at other schools is such a powerful tool as students can see what other children their age are doing and how the quality of work can vary. At a conference recently, I was introduced to the concept of Mystery Skype, which I am excited to try very soon!

I use the Skype Education website, and you will need an account. The website is full of teachers and lessons to connect with, but I also connect with possible Skype-ists via Twitter.

For people that came to my Skype session, I created a very basic handout which you can find here. It just showcases a few examples of how I have used Skype in my classroom, which are all featured on my class blog.