These are my thoughts and reflections on Chapter 5 of our Teaching in the Digital Age book study blog party, the topic is using videoconferencing and webcams to expand the classroom. If you’re not familiar with the book study you can find all the details HERE.
Chapter 5 of our book study blog party was hosted by Karen of Prekinders so make sure to stop by her blog and comment or link up.
Connecting with Children or Classrooms Around the World
I just returned from the National I Teach K Conference in Las Vegas. While I was there I met teachers from around the world including Japan, UAE (Dubai), Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, and American Samoa. Wouldn’t it be great to connect with teachers and classes in places like this via Skype? Your class could share something unique to your geographic area and vice versa. Here in Texas we know a lot about cowboys and rodeos that classes in other parts of the world might find interesting.
Or what about the non-fiction genre? Your class could teach another class “how-to” do something via Skype such as make a gingerbread house. Maybe next year at I Teach K they can have a little bulletin board or something where teachers who are interested in Skyping with other classes can post their contact info. Forget the kids; I’d just like to find out what teaching in some of those faraway places is like!
Encourage Family Involvement
I’ve had the privilege of working with teachers from two different military bases. It was fascinating to listen to them talk about the struggles they and their students face on a daily basis. I encourage you to reach out to families with deployed family members and ask about the possibility of Skyping in the classroom. How great would it be for a deployed family member to read a story to your class via Skype? Or perhaps they are serving in a capacity as an expert and they can talk about their job. My cousin is currently deployed and she is a truck driver, I’m sure students would love to see her truck.
What about parent conferences? It would be fantastic if you could arrange to have the parent Skype into the conference, but you would have to take into consideration the time difference before you could schedule anything. Another thing to remember is that not all deployed members of the military are allowed to Skype. I have another cousin who is also deployed and because of the sensitive nature of his job he is allowed very little, if any contact with home.
Videoconference with Santa
This is something that my former school district did that is purely for fun. Each year the members of the technology team used to dress as Santa and his elves the day before Christmas vacation and tour the elementary schools handing out candy canes. As our district grew, it became impossible for them to accomplish this task in only one day. Being the technology geniuses they are, they decided that perhaps setting up a videoconference with each campus where Santa can answer questions or read a story to the students would work. My class participated in one of these videoconferences and it was amazing. The kids loved talking with Santa “through the TV” as they called it. I understand this particular example might not work for all schools, but I encourage you to think outside the box and find ways to utilize videoconferencing and webcams in your classroom.
Tomorrow, Scott from Brick by Brick will be discussing Chapter 6, Sharing Knowledge and Learning through Publication and Presentation Tools.