Recently, I used Skype for a unit of persuasive writing about Sharks that we were doing in class. As the brilliant Lee Parkinson says, ‘work done for a purpose is always the most gripping’. Which is so true, whether it’s for a real audience like blogging, a competition or informing a local business. Children work harder, concentrate more and more importantly care more when the outcome is real and not just for another piece of work in the book. This is one of the reasons I love to use Skype, you’re speaking to real people and most of the time you can get back to them within a few weeks with the finished product.
I thought I would go through a few ways Skype Classrooms can benefit you in the Classroom:
I enjoy using Skype as there is such much power with having an expert stranger, the one I was lucky enough to get was Jillian Blake-Morris. Jillian runs Bimini Shark Lab in the Bahamas and has years of experience where she has traveled, filmed and photographed extensively across the globe, from the Outback wildlife of Western Australia to coral reefs of Indonesia. I was excited for my class to get the opportunity to speak to Jillian as she could provide content for our persuasive text but also the purpose, which is going to be to share our work on her website (sharks4kids.com).
I have been using Skype Classrooms for years and it is full to the brim with leading experts who are happy to chat to your class, oh yeah, and it’s free. I know teachers who have Skyped to an Arctic research which tied in with their topic, nice try doing that as a school trip!
There is the facility to mystery Skype another classroom somewhere around the world. This is a nice fun way to exercise the class’ geography muscles because you ask questions and try to figure out where the other class is calling from- I have always thought this would be good to organise as a league, giving out points for the lower number of questions asked before a correct guess or something.
Launching Skype in your classroom is a fairly simple process. All it requires is a new account, some video and audio equipment, and a device to broadcast from. Skype used to only be available through the computer, but as time has gone on it is now available on many different devices, from mobile phones to gaming systems.
Steps to setting up your classroom Skype session:
- Download Skype for your device here (https://www.skype.com/en/get-skype/).
- Create a simple and easily searchable login for your classroom.
- Send out invites through email to all parties
- Set up audio either with a microphone for you to instruct a virtual class, or several microphones around the classroom so that the class can participate with a Skype guest.
Skype can aid you as a teacher to help provide opportunities to develop 21st Century Learning as well as the obvious curriculum links to geography, history and writing. For example, mystery skype allows children to practice important geography skills and ask students questions to help them learn about their culture.
Have you tried using Skype in the Classroom? Are you interested in discussing it? Please reach out by commenting below!