By Teachers, For Teachers
Imagine taking your class on an "around the world" field trip or having your favorite children's author lead today's read-aloud. You can do both of these and more without leaving your classroom thanks to Skype.
Skype is free communication software that allows you to make calls, instant message and video conference online. Here are just a few of the endless possibilities for using this ed tech tool in the classroom.
One amazing experience you can have with Skype in the classroom is a virtual author visit or other amazing guest speaker.
Author and illustrator Mike Artnell is one of many authors using Skype to visit classrooms.
When Artnell skypes with classes, students can ask him questions about writing and illustrating, watch him sketch and show him their own in-class illustrations. He also reads from Petite Rouge – A Cajun Red Riding Hood, his book named 2009 Read Aloud Book of the Year by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
Here’s a video documenting one of Artnell’s Skype visits:
Mike Artnell’s Skype Tips
•Make sure the screen is large enough for the kids to see what’s going on.
•When kids ask questions, it’s fun to actually have them stand up and walk in front of the camera.
•It’s important to do a “test” Skype call ahead of time to make sure everything’s working well. Invite colleagues/administrators in to see the technology work.
•Get started by downloading Skype ahead of time.
•Choose the venue that works best for your purposes (whether it be your classroom, the library or a media center.)
•Be careful about your privacy settings.
•Only allow student supervised access to Skype.
•Try Skype’s built-in recording option to rebroadcast your conversations later!
•Whether you’re conferencing with an author or another class, have your students prepare test questions to make the most of your chat.
•The whiteboard feature also allows you all the freedom of being in the classroom and writing notes on the board for students.
Get in touch with Michael Artnell and other authors who Skype by visiting the Skype Author Network.
No longer just pen and paper communication, you can skype with partner classrooms across the country or across the world. Sign up with ePals to connect with other interested classrooms!
If you’re feeling ambitious, follow in Silvia Tolisano’s footsteps with the Around the World with 80 Schools challenge. The Jacksonville, Florida, Instructional Tech Specialist used Skype to connect her classroom with 80 different countries in 6 months.
You can also arrange book discussions that demonstrate the different perspectives of readers from different places and cultures.
Schedule Skype conferences with parents whose work or commute interfere with them making the meeting. You can also make a call home more effective by speaking with the student and parent(s) together.
Reach out to national education experts whose travel would typically blow out your budget or set up inter-district conferences to compare notes with schools and districts who have found success facing similar challenges.
How would you use Skype in your classroom? Share in the comments section!