Do you use Skype to video chat with your friends or family? I know that I have used Skype many times before. Well have you ever thought of using Skype in the classroom? Chances are, it’s never occurred to you, or at least I hadn’t thought of it until reading a few blog posts about the power of video chatting in a classroom. As a teacher it’s important to keep up to date with technology and utilize tools, such as Skype, to make engaging lessons for your students.
In Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s blog, Langwitches, she gives many tips for how to teach effectively with today’s technology. Silvia presents and consults with teachers on topics of technology integration, 21st century skills and literacies, digital story telling and connecting with schools world wide. Last April, she published a post titled, Bringing in Experts. Transformative Teaching & Learning discussing how teachers can effectively used Skype in their classrooms. Silvia worked with a fifth grade classroom at Martin J. Gottlieb Day School during their unit on the American Revolution, inviting experts to video chat with the class. Silvia’s class had a chance to learn from Travis Bowman, a 6th generation descendant of Peter Francisco. The class asked him questions and learned more about his ancestors.
The fifth grade class also invited a history teacher from Maine, named Richard Bryne to Skype with them. Mr. Bryne could teach the students a lot about the American Revolution, because he teaches a unit on it to his high schoolers.
There are many other lessons that teachers could use Skype for. Video conferencing can be an alternative for field trips. If a school has a tight budget or a strict field trip policy, one could look into video conferencing with experts instead! Students could video conference with historians or scientists, who could teach the class something unique and in-depth that matches up with their unit. This could be an especially good way to use Skype in the classroom for topics that may be more difficult to engage children in because they’ll become excited by the idea of using Skype, especially to learn from an expert! When Silvia’s students video chat with an expert, she has them think of thoughtful questions for the expert, forcing them to use their critical thinking skills and become interested in the material.
A third grade teacher of 25 years who recently received her Master’s degree in Integrating Technology in the Classroom, Mrs. Yollis blogs about what her class has been doing with technology. In her blog post, Skyping with Canadians, Mrs. Yollis shows how she used Skype with her class to video conference with a classroom in Canada that she calls their “blogging buddies”. The two classes shared with each other geographic information for their country, for example the area, population, flags, and even their national bird. Check out her blog post to see some exciting photos from the class’ Skype session and for more tips!
I definitely plan on using Skype in the classroom. Both Silvia and Mrs. Yollis’ ideas for using Skype interest me. I may also like to get my class involved in “Around The World with 80 Schools”, a project that connects students with Skyping partners from around the world. There are so many other ways that Skype can be used in a classroom setting. How do you imagine yourself using Skype to teach your students?