Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Skype in the Classroom!

I had an awesome time in Mrs. Risser's 1st grade this morning, helping them use Skype Classroom for the very first time.  They are participating in the Global Read Aloud, and they connected with a kindergarten class in Indiana to Skype with.  Their goal was to learn more about each other's state and school.  They also discussed this week's GRA book, Duck!  Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

It was really fun.  The first graders asked great questions and used awesome manners!  I was impressed.

If you are interested in Skyping, a great place to start searching for connections is Twitter!  I have connected with educators all over the country by using Twitter.  Global Read Aloud is also great, because it provides a network of teachers who are participating in GRA and looking to Skype.

To connect, you can use either Skype or Google Hangout.  Either way, make sure the person you are connecting with is in your contacts.  It's usually great to try a quick "test call" without kids to be sure your connection works okay.  It's also important to plan out what you're going to do, how you're going to ask questions (i.e. Take turns between classes?  Have students come up to the screen and ask questions?, etc) and what the purpose of the call is.  Decide who is going to make the call, and be careful planning (time differences can make coordinating a call pretty tricky).

Sometimes it's fun to discuss a book you've both read or a topic you're studying.  Some teachers like to "Mystery Skype" where you ask questions to figure out the location of the class you're connecting with.  If you do this, I think it's fun to keep a map where you can mark off which states you have connected with.  Check out this article for more info about Mystery Skype.  I liked playing Mystery Number using Skype or Twitter.  The kindergartners loved it, and it really helped their "math talk" skills.  They had to learn to ask "big" questions ... not just "Is your number 6?" but "Does it have two digits?"  "Is it even?"  "Does it have a 6 in the tens place?" There is a great article on Mystery Number Skypes here.

If this is something you'd like to try, but don't know where to begin, let me know.  I would love to help!

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