We had a wonderful experience in our classroom last week. Through the initiative of a student and his parents we were able to make connections with the Korean Aerospace Research Institute in South Korea.
This was significant for us because of our inquiry into space and the effects of our solar system on Earth. We had come to the end of our unit and have been finishing our final projects of writing reports about an effect of the solar system on Earth.
After spending weeks going back and forth between the mother and the institute and ironing out times, dates and details we finally connected via skype. The preparation I did leading up to the event was to try and have the students understand where they were in relation to our school in Beijing and the technology we would use to talk to them in real time. We spent some time creating good questions and we looked at the best set up of the computer, projector, speakers etc…
On the morning of the call, we did a practice with the Grade 4 class because they had just skyped with an author and we asked them for tips on what makes a good skype call. That was fun for us and a great experience for them to pass on their learning.
I had planned to record the conversation through Quick Time and had the program opened. When I went to play it back to the kids there was that lovely red record button sitting there unclicked……yes, I forgot to click the button!
My 10 reflections on what makes a good skype call
1. Prepare the kids, prepare the kids, prepare the kids! I think this is really important.
2. Give kids jobs during the call (photographer, question asker, video recorder, note taker, etc..)
3. Think about position of computer in relation to projector. It is nice for the kids to see the person on the projector.
4. The camera should be pointed at the kids – that way they feel ownership over the experience.
5. Practice with them. Call another class, let them feel what real time video calling is like)
6. Google map the location of the person. Talk about that country, distance from us, etc…
7. Ensure the students practice clear and loud speaking.
8. Give kids ownership of the experience
9. Don’t forget to record!
10. Reflect and share!