Technical Know How
What do you need to connect with another school and Skype?
- Internet Connection
- Downloaded Skype program
- webcam (usually has an integrated multidirectional microphone)
- microphone (if not integrated with webcam)
How to set up Skype?
- Check out Sue Waters EXCELLENT Quick Start Tips for New Skype users.
How to set up your classroom?
- Have 1-4 “hot seats” in front of the camera
- Have the area around the webcam well lit
Skyping for the first time
I would suggest to set up a test skype before you skype with your students the first time. Nothing is more nerve wrecking than to have a classroom full of students and NOTHING is happening on the screen.
I have tested the skype set up between two classrooms in our school before, as well as with the other school. Let the students know that technology is not fail proof. Have a backup plan, in case your call does not go through or your internet connection is down.
Preparing your students ahead of time for the Skype Call
- Ask yourselves what you would share with the other school about your own school, country, city?
- Figure out if you want to collect authentic data from the schools that your are connecting with, in order to work with spreadsheets, analyze and compare data and create graphs later on. What kind of data, related to your curriculum are you looking for?
- What questions would you ask of them?
- What knowledge do you already have of the location/culture/etc.
- Locate their city and country on the map.
- Where in relationship to your location
- Time Zone
- Consider having a “Show and Tell” item.
- Remember you will only have up to 5 minutes for Q &A
- What languages do you speak in the country you live in?
- How do you say “?” ?
- What is your favorite sport to play or watch?
- What kind of music do you like to listen to?
- What is the nearest big city?
- What is the name of your president?
- What did you always wanted to know about our country/city?
- Be creative and have one “unexpected” question to ask
- Practice how the change in “hot seats” will occur. Handing over of the microphone, etc.
- Have a digital camera and flip camera ready to be documenting the video conference.
- Decide if you want to record the Skype conversation:
- Ecamm- record video too (Mac)
During the Skype Call
- Make sure your webcam is mounted stable and pointing to share the faces of your students (not the top of their heads or the ceiling)
- It is helpful to have a “hot seat” in front of the webcam/microphone. The “other side” will be able to focus better on one or a few people rather than a larger crowd.
- Have a rule of only one person speaking at a time. It gets very confusing if several people are speaking at once for your listeners/viewers.
- If you have several students who will be talking, make sure they vacate and take the hot seat quietly and least amount of movement.
- Background crowd needs to move as little as possible, as that constitutes a major distraction.
- Introduce yourself and your class to your “visitors”.
- Have students ask their questions or share, show and tell about topics you have prepared.
- Take photos of your students faces, general area, and students with the projector screen and the skype screen with the other school in the background.
- Keep the call under 5 minutes.
- Say goodbye as a class.
Here is a suggested timeline:
- Hello (15 sec)
- Intro of School 1 (school/geographic location) (30 sec.)
- Intro of School 2 (school/geographic location) (30 sec.)
- School 1 shares (1 min)
- School 2 shares (1 min)
- Data collection Question (30 sec.)
- Goodbye (15 sec)
After The Skype Calls
- Talk with your students about what they heard
- What did we learn?
- Were you surprised?
- Have student write or record their impression of the school, country, city, students, etc.
- Enter collected data in spreadsheet or graph.
- Connect and compare with other video conferences you already had during the challenge
- Blog a summary of the experience, add any questions you forgot to ask or observations your class made.
- Add images taken during the skype call to your blog.
- Language Arts
- Speaking & Presentation Skills
- Note taking
- Time Zones
- Social Studies
- World Cultures & Languages
- Spreadsheets- Data entry
- Video Recording (Flip Camcorder)
- Google Maps
- Google Earth
- Conversions-Temperature: Celcius/Fahrenheit, Kilometers/Miles
- Data collection