There are lots of things you can use these calls for; discuss a topic learned, have a guest speaker talk to multiple classes at once, do a shared read aloud, discover a mystery location, or play a mystery number game. Mystery Number is what we decided to do today! I got the idea from Kathy Cassidy, and you can read about her classroom Mystery Skypes here. Last year, I used Skype Classroom with my students, and we connected with other classes, authors, engineering experts, even NASA! I was anxious to try Google Hangouts, and honestly, it was so easy and simple I would definitely recommend this method. If you're unfamiliar with Hangouts, CLICK HERE to read a quick tutorial.
Before beginning the Hangout, it's important to consider a few things:
1) How to best set up the area so that the other class can see your students on camera, but your students can still view your board/screen and see the other students.
2) Have a speaker set up so your students can hear what's being said.
3) Talk to your students about behavior expectations and appropriate manners to use.
4) If you're going to be asking questions between classes, talk with the other teacher beforehand and be sure you have a process in place for how the questions will be asked, etc. Some teachers have the student asking the question come up to the camera, others have them remain seated and raise their hands. It's helpful to figure this out beforehand to alleviate any confusion during the call.
5) Be sure the person you're connecting with is in your contacts, in fact, I would suggest trying a "test run" without students to be sure it's working well!
It really is so simple and easy to use, and opens up a whole new world of learning, communicating and connecting for your students! If you need other ideas on how to use Skype or Hangouts, check out this post by Edudemic. Kathy Cassidy's blog is also a wonderful resource. If you're unsure of how to find a teacher to connect with, email me or check out Twitter! That's where I have discovered all teachers and authors that I connected with via Skype!