Skype goes crazy in 3Jess!

Over the past few weeks Skype has gone crazy in my classroom! And the students have loved every minute of it, as have I.

Warringa Park, Hoppers Crossing:

During Book Week I assisted in the facilitation of a number of eReads between our grade 3 classes and Warringa Park School. There were a few hiccups along the way, mainly due to DEECD restrictions, and we did briefly have to use FaceTime. However these hiccups were sorted fairly quickly and the successful eReads soon followed. These eReads involved the students from Warringa Park School reading ‘One Wooly Wombat’ to a grade 3 class. Some of the older classes were able to sign the story in Auslan and one of the early years classes had created masks to wear throughout the storytelling. In return our grade 3 classes read books written by Dr. Suess and Pamela Allen to the Warringa Park School classes. The sessions were a huge success; with both the students and teachers involved. We look forward to connecting with Warringa Park School over the next few weeks.

Squid Acres Kennel, Alaska:

About a month ago I received an email from Zofia from Skype Classroom (see previous posts for more information) asking if I wanted to be involved in a Skype session that would be organised and arranged by them. This Skype session was also to be photographed and filmed for commercial purposes. How could I say no?

Zofia connected me with Paige and Cody from Squid Acres Kennel and Lachlan Moore from Lachlan Moore Photography. Prior to the actual Skype call with Squid Acres Kennel I did a test call with Zofia in the UK and Paige and Cody in the US, both worked great!

So on Tuesday morning of this week Lachlan and his colleague, Michael, arrived at Manor Lakes P-12 College at 7.45am and proceeded to transform my classroom into what looked like a photography studio. There was big lamps and flashes, there was cameras and microphones and there was 20 very excited grade 3 students ready to talk to Paige and Cody.

The Skype session was fantastic. Paige and Cody from Squid Acres Kennel raise and race Alaskan Huskies in dogsled races across the continent of North America. Firstly they spoke to my class about where they are located and what the weather is like. Then they got onto what my class had been so excited for, the huskies. They spoke about the competitions they’ve been involved in, what the huskies eat, how to harness them up and what they take on a dogsled race with them. Then they introduced us to some of their dogs, adults and pups.

Again we had some slight technical difficulties, but I solved this by disconnecting from our college network and resuming the call via the 3G network.

I have gained access to the photos that Lachlan took, and they are absolutely brilliant! The excitement and wonder on the students’ faces is beautiful. Unfortunately I am unable to share these with you at the moment as they need to be approved by the Microsoft legal team, but stay tuned!

I have received some fantastic feedback from parents, which is really touching. It’s great to know that the opportunities and experiences I try to provide my students with are being shared and valued at home.

Canteen Creek, Northern Territory:

This week my class was to begin buddy Skype sessions with a class of indigenous students in the Northern Territory, well at least that was the plan. Lachlan Carlyle, a former colleague of mine, is now teaching in the remote community of Canteen Creek. Both of us were keen to provide our students with the opportunity to connect.

The project began with a few students in my class making a short clip about our class and school on Explain Everything and giving Canteen Creek access to this via Dropbox. In return Lachlan sent us a clip that showed my class just how remote, and warm, Canteen Creek is! Of course my students thought it was fantastic and couldn’t wait to connect.

So last week Lachlan and I connected via Skype, had a bit of a chinwag and got things rolling. We decided that it would be a great idea, given the age and cultutal differences of our students, to buddy 2 of my students up with 2 of his students up via Skype, rather than the whole class participating as this might have be slightly too intimidating and we wanted to ensure that conversation would flow. We could rotate through the students, and everyone would get the chamnce to connect with someone. We also tested out iMessage just in case Skpye decided to be temperamental on the big day.

Much to my disappointment I recieved an email from Lachlan on the morning of our Skype call, the NT had decided to undertake an outage, therefore Skype would not work. Luckily we grad tested out iMessage!

2 of my students and 2 of Lachlan’s students got onto an iPad and communicated to each other via image and text using iMessage. The iPad, in both my classroom and Lachlan’s, was projected so the whole class was able to see and contribute to the conversation taking place. And it went really well! There was questions being asked, answers being given and photos being taken. Hopefully next week we will be able to connect via Skype.

As you’ve probably already gathered, I’m a huge fan of Skype in the classroom. In fact huge is probably an understatement. I believe Skype assists in the development of communication skills and confidence in students, in both a fun and interactive way. I’m now in the process of planning for my next big Skype project, a Skypathon!

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