Our Grade 4 Pheasants class just finished a 30 min Skype chat with Mrs Beverly Ladd’s 2nd graders in Wilmington, NC, USA. Despite slight technical glitches on my side we still managed to have a strong, clear connection and it was fantastic! Mrs Ladd’s class is hosting a 24 hour around the world Skype marathon, and we participated in the 21st hour. It was nearly 3am in North Carolina!
Our students had prepared answers to questions that Mrs Ladd had shared with us when we signed up to take part. They were a little nervous, as this was their first Skype call, but after a run through of the questions and answers, we were ready for the call!
During the call we exchanged answers with Mrs Ladd’s students and also asked questions. We loved it when the students recited The Pledge of Allegiance and also when they sang America The Beautiful for us – so beautiful! We were proud to share information about our beautiful Table Mountain and one of our students showed them a photograph of it from her iPad. We also shared a little bit of information about our school and also about Cape Town – especially the wonderful things you can do in Cape Town, such as visiting Ratanga Junction and the Waterfront.
After the call Mrs Sinclair took time to go back to the Google map showing where all the participating classes were and then we looked at where Cape Town is in relation to Pine Valley Elementary. This led to a discussion on time differences and time zones – such a teaching moment! The possibilities are endless.
I take my hat off to Mrs Ladd and her students who have been Skyping for a full 24 hours! What an amazing learning opportunity to find out so much about the rest of the world in such a visual and meaningful way. Skype is an amazing connection tool for the classroom. We need to make use of it more and create more such teaching moments for our students. This is real life learning at its best.
Well done Mrs Ladd’s class, and thank you for the opportunity to participate.
I just experience am most amazing, uplifting experience and I have to share.
I was sitting at my desk when a Skype call came through from Govinda Prasad Panthy, a teacher I have connected with from Bhakatapur, Kathmandu, Nepal. He has just improved his internet connection with the help of Steve Sherman, a Cape Town based Maths expert, so he wanted to test it. What a wonderful opportunity! We chatted for a few minutes and then he brought in a small group of Grade 5 pupils who all asked me questions. They were wonderful.
While this was happening, Sweetness, one of our cleaning ladies, was cleaning my office. Govinda asked me if there was anyone else the children could speak to and so I called Sweetness in to chat too. It was wonderful to see her reaction! How was this possible, to speak to someone so far away? The children on the other hand were amazed too; they wanted to know her name (I gave them her full Xhosa name – that amused them because it is so long), where she was born, whether she was a teacher too and what her job was. They thought Sweetness was beautiful, which she is.
Afterwards, I found a map to show Sweetness where Nepal is. She was totally amazed by the whole experience. I sent a photo that I had taken to her cell phone and I know that she will be showing it to her friends and family today.
The whole experience has left me feeling uplifted and in awe of what technology can do.
Govinda’s SAV School Blog: http://savschool.wordpress.com/
Skype is just amazing! Now for those of you who have travelled extensively or lived abroad, Skype might be nothing new. I am, however referring to it in an educational context. It is truly amazing. If you are keen on flattening your classroom walls and making your students true global citizens, then Skype is for you. Let me elaborate…
Today one of our Grade 6 classes had a Skype session with a Grade 6 class from Vonsild Skole in Kolding, Denmark. As an extension of their Grade 3 Stories project, they got to read their stories aloud to their Danish peers who listened attentively and applauded each story after it was read. Albeit that we had poor video quality, the sound was good enough to get the message across and the whole experience was great fun. There was a short question/answer session at the end and this is where the learning happened, where the interest became apparent and where the realisation that they were talking to children elsewhere on the globe sank in. This is really powerful and can lead to great collaboration across the miles. We look forward to meeting up with this class again later in the year, after their long summer holiday, when they have promised to share a project with us.
Read the Vonsild Skole blog post here: http://vonsildskole.blogspot.com/2012/06/6b-listening-to-elkanah-stories.html
In the past two weeks I have also spoken via Skype to a dear Twitter friend Vijay Krishnan aka @bucharesttutor, all the way in Romania, (In fact, my own children got to “meet” him too), as well as a surprise Skype call from contact from the Global Classroom project, Govinda Prasad Panthy who is in Nepal of all places! This man has a story to tell – he started a school in his village and his only form of internet contact is via his mobile SIM card, and he says that bandwidth is extremely expensive in Nepal. I have much respect for him as he dreams of starting an IT Centre in his village. Powerful stuff.
I’ve created a Posterous blog just for this project – take a look here: http://kstadler.posterous.com/
Exciting things are happening in our lab this week! As the title explains, we will be Skyping with 6th Graders from Madison Middle School on Wednesday and Thursday this week. We are excited about this because it will be the first time we have Skyped with anyone! This wonderful event is a direct spin-off of our Grade 6 Stories project, as the 6th Grade Social Studies teacher from Madison Middle School, Jill Brandeberry, found our stories Wiki and contacted me with the idea of doing a small project together. Due to the timing – end of the school year in the US and assessment time on our end, we have just done a very small project together, in the hope that we can build on our new-found friendships in the future!
What we are busy with is a comparison of our schools and Grade 6 in our respective countries. We have a wiki going in which we are placing all our information as well as questions which we will try to address during our Skype sessions. Please take a look at our Wiki – Let Us Compare!
Keep watching this space for more updates!