We had a very cool Skype call this week with our friends in Mrs. Lee’s keiki (kindergarten) in Honolulu. It was our third online conversation and the children on both sides are beginning to bloom. Where the children were pretty shy at the start of the year, we now see growing confidence as well as more willingness to be active participants.
Mrs. Lee and I have a neat system that seems to be working for us. Since we began, we have emailed each other every few days, sharing our experiences with the students, their families, and administration. I read her blog and she reads mine (Hello, Wendy) which gives us opportunities to leave comments occasionally.
Would you like to know how our system works? Great!
- We negotiate a good day and time for our call, keeping in mind that Hawaii is in a distant time zone, 6 hours behind to this point and then 5 hours behind with the time change this weekend. We will Skype next on November 23rd, our last full day before the Thanksgiving break.
- Wendy and I email each other with questions for our students to address.
- We also discuss current events for our students. One time, it was a field trip to the pumpkin patch for our class. The keiki will be visiting Sea Life Park so they will talk about that trip at our next call.
- I have the little webcam perched on top of a white board easel so it views the open floor space.
- On the white board, I list the names of the students who have volunteered, practiced, and will give the actual answers to the questions we were given previously. The kids can see where they are in the lineup.
- Practice for our students includes formulating an answer that uses a complete sentence and gives as much information as possible. They also practice where to stand, and using a big voice as the webcam isn’t the best on the market =O
- This rehearsal is quite helpful for the children and I.
- We also rehearse asking the questions. I like to have the person who generated the question do the actual asking. We asked questions like, “Do you like princesses?” Yes, especially the Disney princesses. “Do you like Presidents?” Yes, and President Obama was born in Honolulu.
- We like to sing a song for each other and then we cheer uproariously for each performance.
- Finally we close the call with vigorous waving, jumping and good-byes!
We had a photographer from the Daily Hampshire Gazette in to take pictures of this week’s conversation. What he couldn’t capture was the thrill I felt when a normally quiet student both asked one question, and answered another without balking. I hope that picture makes it into the paper as I will keep it forever. I know what a huge step this child is taking. Yes, this is the passion that comes with doing the job for what feels like most of your lifetime.
To Skype with another class, you’ll need some sort of webcam or camera, microphone, and speakers setup. Many laptops come with these built in although the microphone may not be enough to capture voices that aren’t right on top of it.
You can find other interested collaborators to Skype with, by checking these resources:
- The Edublogger
- The Skype In Schools Wiki
- The School Library Journal has calls with Authors/Illustrators
- A great post from November Learning