It Became a Little Clearer Today..,

The two social studies teachers from our two 6th grade teams collaborated to create this unique learning opportunity.

To help make a great connection for their unit on recent history in India, Maria O’Connor arranged for this Skype lesson/presentation with an 18 year college student in Mumbai. Samuel Thomas, @SamuelThomas95, is a 18 year college student working on a program comparable to a CPA program. [They know each other from their mutual fanaticism with futbol] He graciously entertained and answered questions from our kids on a variety of topics covered in their class.  Samuel is a obviously a smart and engaged young man. Hearing his responses, its easy to see why that he is clearly knowledgeable involved. [Check out his Twitter profile to learn about his interests and where he’s going]

From the students’ questions, I could tell they’ve had conversations about Hinduism/religion, the caste system, general culture questions. These helped provide the share session some good direction and streamline responses. Planning ahead and giving students this guidance is a great means to ensure that the targeted learning outcomes are achieved.

After listening in on this #skypeintheclass share session, it became a little more clear today:

  • That our 6th graders really heard about the impact Ghandi made in India and the world ;
  • That our 6th graders understand how similar and different cultures are around the world;
  • That a 12 minute talk from an 18 year old in Mumbai made as much of an impact on learning [if not more] than talks and discussions and activities in a class. [Take 15 minutes on #skypeintheclass to find someone who will make that #differencemaking connection]
  • That planning the EQs and learning outcomes ahead of time and putting those in the kids hands is as equally important planning for this #Skype experience.

I’ve always been a fan of #skypeintheclass and this lesson validated the need to create more unique, distinctly relevant learning experiences like this one.

Skyping In – #GRESA Conference

images   Last week, I had the great opportunity to Skype into the conference with a good friend of mine from Georgia. Rod Smith, @IAmRodSmith, is the Director of Technology and Communications for Griffin-Spalding Schools. I contacted him earlier to get his help with an iPad technical issue [he is an iPad guru]. We arranged for me to Skype into his session for school leaders using social media for their own growth and for connecting with their stakeholders.

A main goal was for this group to hear from a current school administrator who using social media. We previously discussed the sharing on the following points:

  • The right tools make the difference – Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck make the difference, whether its scheduling tweets, organizing information, participating in chats or any number other features
  • Connecting with stakeholders – I created this information sheet [Stay Informed@SLMS] at my last school and modified to fit my current district’s social media policies. I attribute this sheet to Communicating and Connecting with Social Media
  • My changed perspective – I am a different educator today than when I first joined Twitter and began diving into social media four years ago. This journey is about lifelong learning and shifting paradigms
  • Participating in chats – I spoke to the group about my active participation/facilitation in two chats:
    • #edfocus – This began as a book study chat and has evolved to include an implementation portion. The main facilitators include @mrbernia and @normandin
    • #ncadmin was started with fellow NC administrator @CSmithGoBlue. We want a forum to keep NC administrators current on new trends but are very fortunate to be joined by administrators across our nation.
    • I encouraged all school leaders present in the session to either join an existing chat or create one specific for their circle and growth

This was a great experience! I’m thankful for the opportunity to share some impactful experiences I’ve had that could help others benefit from diving into social media. We should all can do what we can to help other educators change their perspectives on what 21st century professional development and growth means.

Give Your Students the World

Skype just created a forum for teachers to connect to each other and share resources!

I’ve had a chance to join and look around Skype in the Classroom and this is a great resource/tool for us to provide great opportunities for students AND to share resources with other teachers.

If you don’t have a Skype account already, you can create one at the link above. It’s a simple registration process and should only take minutes.

The great thing here is going through the directory and finding teachers/classrooms you’d like to connect to. When I last looked there were close to 900 educators from all corners of the US and stretching to Thailand – there is something there for every class and purpose.

Putting in a minimum amount of planning for this experience can realize tremendous gains:

  • Set up your Skype account – Load up your picture and give a good description of your class and what you’re looking for;
  • Check your equipment – Built in/external webcams, wireless/wired connections, mics, lighting, etc;
  • Determine what your learning outcomes are before you make contact – Its ok if you don’t have it fully mapped, your collaborative partner may even appreciate the opportunity to help you develop some learning objectives. The main point here is to go into this with a plan other than just calling another class to wave;
  • Make this experience student centered – As cool as it is going to be for you to do the talking, please remember that kids learn by doing;
  • SHARE OUT YOUR SUCCESSFUL COLLABORTATIVE EXPERIENCE – Twitter it, Blog it, email it – whatever! Let others see how easy it can be and how much learning and enjoyment kids can get from it.

I’m determined to help the teachers in my building create some collaborative partnerships and to Skype out to several educators as well.

See you out there!