All Things Skype

connecting with Around The World with 80 Schools

It’s always fun to help out a friend, especially when they are helping their students connect and practise their English.

Today my friend, the lovely Mrs Durff asked me if I would skype into her class of Korean middle school students attending the Global Vision Christian Pre-camp located in EumseongChungcheongbuk-doSouth Korea. to learn English in their summer break.

Unfortunately only one student was brave enough to come up to the webcam and ask me question.  So rather than have them trying to think up a question, I decided to ask them some questions instead.  From the safety of their seats, many students answered my simple questions.  It was a fun way to spend 20 minutes of my summer break helping them learn during their summer break!

Skype Korea

Thanks for asking me Durff – the pleasure was all mine!

Cross-posted at teachingsagittarian

This morning, Room 231 had their very first “official” skype connection with another class of Year 7’s (Grade 6) and their teacher Lois Smethurst in Warragul, Melbourne, Australia.

Skype Call with Melbourne, Victoria

We took turns to introduce ourselves and talk a little about ourselves, our school life and life in our country. Then we used some time to discuss our Life Round Here 2010 digital stories and they ways that we were completing this project!

We had to restart our computer when we first tried to connect with Warragul because we couldn’t get any sound.  That happens a lot with skype sometimes.  This time it turned out to be something at our end and not skype at all!

We have this little audio black box in our classroom that sits on the floor down by our SMARTboard.  It has 4 channels and we’ve realised that when the cleaners listen to music after school – they turn the black box off!

It helps to keep your cool, be patient and persevere when things like that happen!  We were communicating in no time!  We thought the Australian accent was hard to understand sometimes and we kept having to ask them to repeat themselves.  (Ms H did a bit a “translating” for us too).

Around the World with 80 Schools Skype Connection #11

(cross-posted at Room231’s class Blog)

Late this morning we had our very first skype call.  We were “SQUIRTing” (aka: super quiet uninterrupted independent reading time) when the sound of a telephone ringing interrupted the silence of the classroom.

“Hello Daughter” said Ms H’s mum.

“Hello Mum, would you like to talk to my class?”  replied Ms H.


We crowded around the laptop (cos Ms H was working on it at her desk and it wasn’t plugged into the SMARTboard) and said hello.  Ms H’s mum was at home watching the news in New Zealand.  We asked her what was the temperature in NZ.  She said it was 20 degrees Celcius.  It’s the start of spring in NZ.  It’s rainy season in Thailand we told her and it’s 32 degrees Celcius.  She said it was probably too hot for her in Thailand and that she’s never been to Thailand.  We asked a few more questions.  Tanya asked ……..

“Was Ms H naughty when she was a kid?”

Ms H’s mum replied “Yes, there’s a lot of naughty things your teacher has done that I could tell you”.  Ms H was red-faced and quickly changed the subject!

We think skyping is awesome!  It means we get to talk to people around the world and see them at the same time.  We will skype with many people around the world as Ms H loves helping us connect with different people.

On March 19th, 2009 at 10:52am Room202 skyped with Spring Gully Primary School in Bendigo, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This part of Australia is four hours ahead of us, so it was 2:52pm for them.

We had technical difficulties in the beginning, and we had to call three times before we could hear Spring Gully Primary School. They were lucky because they heard us from the start.

australia calling1

We learned Spring Gully Primary School has 390 students in 16 classes and is 100 years old. The class that we were skyping had 24 students, with 23 being Ozzies, and 1 Indonesian girl. Their uniforms were green and yellow.  We learned that green and yellow are Australia’s national colors.

Their class also told us about Veggie-Mite, which is an Australian spread that you can eat on toast or in a sandwich.

At Spring Gully Primary School the students can take Indonesian (because they said it was their closest neighbor) or German in Elementary School. In Middle and High school, they said you could take other languages, such as Maori.  When curious members of Room202 asked why they taught certain languages, we learned that only those language teachers were available.

Skype Connection with Melbourne Australia

Room202 enjoyed skyping with Spring Gully Primary School on their first skype call for the
Around the World With 80 Schools
skype project and our 10th connection.

Room202 is looking forward to skyping with many more schools in the coming weeks.

You can listen to the recording of our conversation here.

Connection #9 in the AroundTheWorldwith80schools project using skype was with Grade 5 students on March, 18th 2009. We skyped with Tokyo International School at 10:00am here in Bangkok, and in Tokyo it is two hours ahead so it was 12:00pm there. Skype Connection with Tokyo, Japan

We were surprised how many nationalities there were in their class.  6 Japanese, 1 Brazilian, 6 American, 1 New Zealander, 1 Turkish, 2 French, 2 Dutch, 2 British, 1 Indian, and the teacher is Canadian.

Using Google Earth we found out that we are 4,589.66 Kilometers (2,851.88 Miles) away from Tokyo International School. It was our 9th skype connection and the most special for two reasons.

1. The creator of Aroundtheworldwith80schools skype project Mrs.Tolisano was with us when we connected with this class.Skype Connection with Tokyo, Japan

2. The teacher, Mr. Mike Jesse will be moving to Thailand and
will be teaching Grade 3 next year at our school.

Here is a link to Mr. Jesse’s Class Blog:

Ms H recorded the skype conversation using AudioHijackPro. 
You can listen to the conversation here if you would like to.

Tonight 9 students from Room 202 came back to school (yes, that’s right – came back to school) at 6.45pm to get ready to make connection #8 in our Aroundtheworldwith80schools skype project.

At 7pm, March 4, 2009 Bangkok, Thailand connected 14 530.08 kilometres away with Benton City, Benton, Tennessee USA, their time 7am, March 4, 2009.

Skype with Benton Elementary School

Their accents were strong, and they said they were a little nervous, but the students at Benton Elementary School did a fabulous job of their very first ever skype call. They told us the temperature in Benton was 29°F (or in temps that Ms H understands 5ºC – brrrrr that’s cold) while we swelter in temperatures of 93ºF  (34°C)!!  Their school has 33 teachers and about 570(?) students – we will need to listen to the recording to check those figures.   Out of 46 students, 1 is Spanish and the rest are American.

As usually the “hot-seat” technique worked a charm – one person speaks at a time up at the webcam/microphone.  You can see that we use a chart (we brainstormed as a class what we wanted to say in our 5 minutes) to help us keep on track and to help us if we forget what to say.Skype with Benton Elementary School

We had some parents with us tonight – which was great.  One of the things that they noticed was that perhaps we needed to explain that even though we’re in Bangkok, Thailand, we are a melting pot of nationalities.  Our nationalities include American, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Mongolian, Taiwanese, Hebrew and Kiwi!! (That’s New Zealanders).

Ms H recorded the conversation using Audio Hijack Pro. You can listen to our whole call conversation if you would like too.

Room 202 students who came back to school tonight …… please add anything that Ms H has left out and any comment that you would like to make about the connection with Benton Elementary School.

Our last skype connection for the week was with 6th Graders from Berwick Lodge Primary School in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  Australia is 3 hours ahead of us so it was 9.15am our time, 12.15pm their time on Friday 27 February 2009.

Skype with Victoria, Australia

We thought that the Australian accent was really strong and we were surprised to discover that they had a few different nationalities in their classroom too.

Using GoogleEarth we found that their school is
7 399.65 kilometres from our school.  That’s the second closest connection we have made so far in our AroundtheWorldwith80schools skype project.

Sports played at Berwick Lodge Primary School are much different to the sports we play at ISB.  They are called Year 6’s (but are they same age as our Grade 5’s.

Our school years are different.  We start in August and go through to June.  Australian schools start in January and go til December.

Ms H still hasn’t gotten used to pressing record when using Audio Hijack Pro (she remembers to press hijack but not record!!) so we’ve got half a recording of our call AGAIN.  You can listen to it below if you would like to.

Room 202 students, please add your thoughts and comments below and anything else that you learnt from skyping with Berwick Lodge Primary School.  Thanks, Ms H.

Continuing our day with connections around the world, we went onto connect with my good friend Mr Brian Crosby and some of his 6th Graders from Agnes Risley School. It was 6.15pm their time Wednesday 25th February (they were at a showcase event for technology and showing off skype to people) 9.15am our time, Thursday, 26th February. (“I’m still from your future Mr Crosby” says Ms H!) Skype Nevada

Using GoogleEarth we found out that Anges Risley School is 12 757.26 kilometres away from Bangkok, Thailand. We’ve added a placemark to our KMZ file that Ms H is creating.  When we’ve finished connecting all the way around the world, we will embed the KMZ file on our classblog and you can fly around the world with us on our skype tour.  (Keep checking back to see when this gets posted!!)

We thought the little laptops that the 6th graders had were cool.  We asked our nationalities data question and have added the results to our the rest of the data we have collected so far.  We also discovered that they blog just like we do.  Here’s their classroom blog (and you can find student blogs on the sidebar).

Ms H only recorded half the conversation …… again …… using Audio Hijack Pro (she really needs to get her act together on that one!!)   You can listen to the part of the conversation she did record, below if you would like to.

Thursday 26 February was a busy connection day for us.  At 7.45am in Bangkok, Thailand and 7.45pm Wednesday 25 February in Newton, MA, we logged into a virtual classroom to chat with #5 in our quest to connect aroundtheworldwith80schools.  Although it wasn’t a skype call, we connected with each other and shared information about our day!

Using DiscoverE we were able to make a connection with 6th graders from Jackson School, Newton, Massachusetts, USA. From their own homes, 3 students – Gabriella, Alfred and Kadi and their teacher Mrs. Leo showed us and talked to us about a presentation that they had prepared for us that was all about “The day in the Life of a 6th Grader”. Discovere with Jackson School

We also prepared a similar presentation entitled “A day in the Life of a 5th Grader” to share back. Using DiscoverE was cool because you could have video from each student as they took turns to speak. When you use skype for conferencing from home you can only have audio (like we had for Anderson Elementary School when Ms H bought us all into a conference call from our homes one night.)

DiscoverE has an interactive whiteboard in it to share presentations, it has a laser to show what you are talking about on the screen and it has a little button to press when you want to have a turn at speaking. It’s a bit more controlled than skype – but a lot of fun still.

Using googleearth we found that Jackson School was
13 721 kilometres away from our classroom in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ms H forgot to press record on Audio Hijack Pro – but Mrs. Leo has a recording of the video and audio of our whole DiscoverE experience here.

Discovere with Jackson School

(cross-posted at TeachingSagittarian)

We’re involved in Silvia Tolisano’s short, simple yet so powerful Skype project AroundTheWorldwith80Schools.  In just two short weeks we have connected with seven different classrooms in four parts of the world.  And we’re not stopping there!  By the end of our school year, I hope to share with you that we managed to connect right around the globe.

skype connections 2 weeks

As I reflect on our involvement in this project, I wonder what this has done for my students.  At first I thought that it really didn’t bother my students one way or another that we were connecting with so many different classrooms around the world.  But then, their excitement hardly ever shows – unusual I know, but seriously true.  I worry about that because they’re only 5th graders – what’s happened to their natural “wonderment and awe?”

However, my mother taught me really well – not to judge a book by it’s cover – so I decided if I was truly going to reflect on using this tool in the classroom, I ought to ask those that have the biggest stakehold – my students.

Here’s the questions I asked them and a sample of their replies.  You be judge of the value of using a tool like skype in the classroom with your students.

How do you feel stopping for 5-10 minutes, to skype with a class in other country?

Yes, we should keep on making connection around the world, because it helps us understand about different parts of the world and their cultures, but mainly because it’s fun.

Skyping with another class in another country for 5-10 minutes is great because you learn about their school, their way of life, their beliefs, and their culture. I have learned many different things about the topics in the previous sentence.

I like the idea of taking 5-10 minutes off to skype because it is a fast and easy way to communicate and learn about the other place we are skyping in a short time.

Do you learn anything when we talk to other students from around the world?

what the weathers like
what the other kids in that school play in recess
and other unfamilliar subjects we don’t do.

I learn about other people’s lives and it’s fun to compare them to mine.

I have learned about other countrys, culture, about them, and the location that they are in

Do you use Skype at home to connect with family/friends?

I’ve never connected on skype with my friends in America but I connect with my family in America except the skype that we do is we call them with our computer and it calls their real phone not their computer so that means that we can’t use a camera so that’s how it is different.

At home I Skype with my Grandparents in the USA, and my parents have other contacts in their Skype “phonebook.”

I use skype a lot at home because i skype my dad a lot when ever he leaves the country and i really like to skpe my friends.

I don’t use Skype at home.


What have you learned about communicating with others using Skype in classroom?

I have learned that on Skype calls you have to speak loudly and clearly, so the person on the other end of the line can hear you and understand you.

I learned that communicating with other people around the world can be very easy and simple.

Should we continue to make connections with other classrooms around the world?  Why? / Why not?

Also i really think that this helps people in our class to because you finally get a chance to say things about yourself and were you live to other people around the world.

I think that we should continue making connections with other schools because you will get to meet more people and learn more about the place that they are at.

I think we should keep skyping with other classrooms around the world because you learn about other people’s experiences and daily lives. Afterwards, you can compare and contrast them with your experiences and life.

I think we should keep doing skype calls but a thing we could do to make it better is if the calls had a bit more purpose because right now we arent getting anything really meaningful about the country we skype with.

flickrCC I was thinking this was pretty honest and valuable feedback.  My class are relatively well-connected with family and friends that live around the world – being International families means they need to, they like the fast and simple stuff, they enjoy learning about students just like them and comparing themselves and they like meeting new people.

My take-away ……. Keep using skype to make connections and have conversations around the world – keep it short – skyping is fun but it needs a purpose.  Even in Grade 5 students are looking for the purpose in whatever it is they being asked to do.

Image Attribution: 'Skype Phone'
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