Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OK, OK, I Get It!

I had never jumped on the idea of Skype calls. I don't know why. When my parents come to visit I let the kids ask questions and they (both students and my parents) love it! The students are engaged, making connections, and thinking deeply. Why I never realized how simply I could add the same excitement I have no idea.

Well, I have a bit of an idea. First of all, Skype is technically not allowed on campus. I also figured we could do the research together and that I could help them connect the dots

It's true. I can help them make those connections, but I am doing that all the time. How invigorating for my students to see a fresh face - a different perspective. Plus, there is the expert factor. I can research, but that does not make me an expert.

Yesterday morning we Skyped with an expert. Major Anderson flies F16s. The impetus was our science variable unit. When we made 'flippers' we also read about how catapults are used in the "real world". One example was planes taking off from an aircraft carrier. I made a connection myself thinking of my childhood friend being a pilot and wondered if he would talk with us.

I received permission to put Skype on my school machine and to have the call. We spent a little bit of time building our background knowledge and we created a Google Doc with our wonderings. We also talked about the logistics of the call: where to stand, how to address him, remember to say 'thank you', and how to know when it would be your turn to ask a question.

The call time came and we spent 30 minutes engrossed in learning - watts to km, size and speed of the F16, comparison of planes, and more. After we said 'good-bye' we took five minutes to write down what we were still wondering about. Some of the wonders will be simple searches and some we will email to Major Anderson (who volunteered to answer any further questions). We then shared, as table groups, the things that had really stuck with us, what we thought was cool. The room was quite a buzz.

I'm convinced!



  1. How cool was that to watch the engagement and learning of your students! The world of teaching is changing all the time, we have to jump in and be a part. Way to go!

  2. I've been trying to help the teachers with whom I work do this, particularly with writing. The world is open to us! It's terrific you jumped in (as Elsie said) to do. And I agree with you that it's also great to have students learn from someone else, to see another expert in the classroom. I'll share this with my colleagues!

  3. Woo-hoo! Love how you used this tech tool to make a new learning experience. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Great learning experience. Both for the students and you. Thank you for sharing.

  5. What an accomplishment - again for you and your students! Your students will always remember this activity - a memorable experience for all!

    Way to go!

  6. This is awesome and so powerful for your students! Your willingness to jump in with new tech tools in inspiring. I wish I could have seen everything in action. :)

  7. I finally got our district to allow me to use Skype in the classroom. I haven't gotten to try it yet, but I am inspired by your story to get started. I'm sure that your students had plenty to share afterwards. What an enriching experience.

  8. Awesome use of Skype! My sons (9 and 6) both know how to call family members on it and stay in contact. I've used it to create a group project for grad school during the summer when all members were on vacation. Also, my class has Skyped with many authors. Enjoy!

  9. You are awesome!!!