Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mystery Skype

I was blown away last week when I worked with one of my favorite schools and their instructional technology specialist, Lynda. She began sharing a Skype project that sounded interesting, but my foolish first reaction was that Skype has been used, what could be new?  Silly me!  As I really listened in, I was intrigued by the mystery she built into this meaning study. Teachers are so creative and have an inherent need to connect to others. Skype provides such a wonderful platform for bringing the outside world safely into our classrooms.  It’s not just for personal use, but it’s FREE and a readily available platform that opens doors for students to explore under the protective umbrella of their teachers.  This “tuesdays” is a direct result of experiencing a new Skype project created that gives students a sense of inquiry, mystery and curiosity all rolled up in one.

A creative website

Skype is FREE software that you download to you computer so that you can talk, chat or even make video calls for FREE!  Skype in the Classroom makes video conferencing simple, challenging and relative to any classroom setting. Most states/district require a global project at some point. Skype in the Classroom offers countless opportunities.  Lynda submitted her Mystery Skype idea and was accepted.  This is her description: We are an arts-based, bilingual K-8 school in Miami, FL. Our 4th grade classes have been studying about the US in terms of geography and culture. We are looking for similar classrooms around the country who would be willing to Skype with us, asking and answering a series of yes/no questions, to determine the location of the mystery classroom. Ideally we will do one Skype session a week for the remainder of the school year. Presently they have three schools from around the country who will be participating in the Mystery Skype and naturally we are hoping that for a whole lot more.  What a clever idea, Miss Lynda.  It’s fun to share original ideas.

An image to share
4th grade class in Miami, FL guessing the mystery location of another classroom in Forest City, IA.

A proverb
"We have just started, and if you compare the number of people using Skype to the number using a telephone network around the world, we're still just starting.”

Niklas Zennstrom

An encouragement
I would really like to encourage you to become a Skype user because everything we do in education really comes down to relationships.  If you could make a quick Skype call to an expert or another classroom to collaborate, you will bring an engagement level to the classroom unlike mere text.  Please understand that most districts still are unsure of how to handle Skype. Does it require a lot of bandwidth? Will it affect the network? I would like to see teachers utilize Skype like a field trip with permission slips and preplanning so that everyone is aware that a Skype interview/conversation/collaboration is happening on campus and test its potential first before blocking it immediately. As a teacher, make sure that you clear this with your administrators before doing anything at school, but in the meantime, try it at home with family and friends and think of the possibilities! Let us know some of your ideas for classroom uses of Skype on my blog.

How do you do that?
How do you get involved in a Skype in the Classroom project? Research Skype classroom projects or visit a few of these ideas from others that I’ve compiled for you.

Project Collections on Skype – projects from Skype ready to join

You can even search for certain teachers, projects or just areas of interest.  The bottom line is that Skype in the classroom is the most amazing way to collaborate and learn from others. 

Please consider joining Conchita Espinosa Academy’s Mystery Skype for 4th graders where you have your students try to guess where they are from before you reveal who they are to each other.  What fun! To get involved, please contact Monica Valdes at  mvaldes@conchitaespinosa.com  Great idea, Miss Lynda!

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

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