(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?

Yes!
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.

No

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' www.flickr.com/photos/23456072@N00/41676755