I was scared. I was nervous. I was anxious. But, I did it anyway. I did it to enhance the experience of my students in the classroom and the results did not disappoint. My students cannot stop talking about our Skype lessons during Microsoft's Skype-A-Thon event. And even though we had a few bumps in the road, I did not let that stop us. This Blog is Why even though Skype-A-Thon is over, take some time to explore this great educational resource.
Skype-A-Thon was a two day event (November 29th and 30th) and I was able to have my class participate during both. On Day #1, I was the most nervous. My kids had seen me Skype before with a co-worker as we prepared for a PD session with our school's faculty. There were lots of ooh's and ahhh's as they watched in amazement. But, this would be the first time they participated and our first time inviting "outsiders" into our classroom. The first Skype was a last minute addition because one of my other sessions was rescheduled. So, of course, I was scrambling. I tried preparing my students by having the camera displayed on our Promethean board so they could get all of the "sillies" out before our real session. When our scheduled time came and went, I began to get a sinking feeling. Is this going to fall through for my students? I redirected my students to practice the Mystery Skype "Guess My Number" with a partner while I did a last minute email check. Oh no! The teacher that we would Skype with was having some technical difficulties. So, we began to try to resolve the issues through email. Well, nothing else could go wrong, right? WRONG. As I am scrambling and going back and forth with my partnering teacher by email, who walks in? My principal. To do an observation!! Great. Well, at just the right moment our Skype video call begins to ring and we are all set! Just in time. (Whew!) Because otherwise, I am not sure how I would explain to my principal what she had walked in on. Anyway, she was able to witness firsthand our first Mystery Skype from South Carolina to Kentucky. My students were so excited. In the end, we were all smiles and made a plan to meet again.
On Day #2, my students were more settled and a little less intrigued by the camera (you know making faces, waving, etc.). First up, we traveled to St. Louis to Skype with a Microsoft employee that we were paired with for this event. My students were perfect! I was even impressed with how well things went. The day before they had come up with three questions to ask, we did another Mystery Number Skype and we shared a little about our town/state. Our final Skype session was with a class in Georgia. The class of second graders did a read aloud with my class and they had also sent us an assignment the day before. Although my students could not guess where they were from, we learned a lot from their clues. My students also enjoyed working on our shared assignment. We plan to Skype again to share our finished products.
My big take-aways from Skype-A-Thon:
1. During our two-day mission, we traveled about 1,265 miles by Skype.
2. If you plan to do a Skype, don't be too uptight! Just enjoy the experience, mistakes and all.
3. I learned how limited my students' view of the world is and this is a great way to open their eyes.
4. Always have a MAP handy!