Thursday, July 11, 2013

Windows to the World (Global Classroom)

This is my fifth and final post about my Skype in the Classroom journey. If you would like to read the entire journey, here it is!

1. My Skype Challenge
2. Skype is blocked???? (and other issues)
3. My First Skype Mystery - Figuring out how to Skype
4. Answer The Call!
5. Windows to the World (Global Classroom)

In case you haven't read the other posts, in just six days my students and I were able to Skype with 16 classes or guest speakers. Here's the link to a 3 min. video I made from our journey. Feel free to watch it: Around the World in 6 Days

It was an amazing ride and one that taught or reiterated to me MANY life lessons. If you are contemplating using Skype in the Classroom hopefully you will learn some of these lessons as well:

1.) We're very fortunate to live in the United States. Many of the teachers from other countries expressed their appreciation and excitement for being able to connect their students with students from the United States. They continually thanked ME for contacting THEM!

2.) People are kind and helpful by nature. Many of the calls were planned with less than five days notice. These teachers and guest speakers put together their presentation or activities out of the goodness of their heart.

3.) The teachers had one focus in mind as they helped plan and execute each call:  Their students The majority of classes we Skyped with had never Skyped before our call, and you could tell that the teachers main focus was to create a unique experience for their students. The teachers who had Skyped with other classes before, knew the potential and wanted to provide another memorable experience for their students.

4.) Kids are inquisitive by nature. The questions that were asked were always appropriate and respectful - I was very proud of all the students who participated!

5.) Many students around the world are learning more than one language. My students felt inferior every time we had to answer that we only study English and continually asked when they would learn a foreign language.

6.)  The world never stops turning! During the two weeks that I was on my personal Skype journey, my email never stop dinging and my Skyped never stopped 'bubbling.' It was fun Skyping with people from around the world at any hour of the day (Except for the time Ezekiel called from Zambia a little too early - Let's just say I didn't look too polished, but I still took the call :)

7.) We live in a global world, therefore we must teach in a global classroom.  Skype in the Classroom and many other free tools such as Twitter, Blogs, Edmodo, etc., allow teachers to 'flatten the walls of their classrooms' and bring the 'real world' inside. However, there shouldn't be a barrier between the two! The real world IS our classroom - we just have to seek out ways to open the figurative blinds of our classroom's windows so we can all view a WINDOW TO THE WORLD.  

Here's a picture from one of our calls:

The view from the windows on the left and right only shows a few hundred feet in front of our school. However, the 'window' in the center can provide a countless number of views for the students. We just have to create these windows, sit back and enjoy the view!

Skype in the Classroom allowed me to see the possibilities, and I hope to continue to create more windows for my students in years to come. If you are interested in creating a global classroom, there are many resources online and on Twitter. Search 'global classroom' and 'flat classroom' for many ideas on how to connect your students with others from around the world!

What "Windows to the World" do you plan on creating? Leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter (@ArinKress)

Thanks for reading!

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