Since May my students have participated in 3 Skype calls with a primary classroom in Singapore, a teacher in Alaska and one of the founders of Toontastic. It has been a very memorable experience that I would like to share with you.
During Mystery Skype students from our school called another school in Singapore. Both classes did not know where the other class was calling from. To begin the lesson each class took turns asking and answering questions about their countires. On our side my first graders used Goolge Earth to narrow the possible locations of their school. Unfortunately, the students in Singapore guessed our location after only a few questions. However, we continued the Skype call with more questions about our cultures.
After the Skype call my first graders wrote about what they learned and what they liked about the Skype call. For future Mystery Skype calls I would like to spend more time preparing my students. For example, I would like a better program than Google Earth, because we weren’t able to save different locations or markup the maps. Explain Everything would be a better app for this.
ALASKA FIELD STATION
In late June my two first grade classes spoke with Regina Brinker a teacher from California who was stationed at Tulik Field Station in northern Alaska for 2 weeks. My students asked Mrs. Brinker all about life in Alaska and want the researchers were doing at hrs field station. After answering our questions Mrs. Brinker snowed and explained photos of her experiences at the field station. What was great was that she adjusted her presentation to fit my first grade students’s level. Unfortunately, we had a few minor problems with our camera so we were only able to capture a few pictures.
ANDY RUSSELL TOONTASTIC
For our latest Skype call I didn’t go to the Skype in the Classroom website. Instead I contacted Andy directly. I’ve been using Toontastic since it arrived on the iPad and I thought it would be great to learn more about the app from the creators. Andy was kind enough to speak to us even though there was a big difference in time zones.
Andy told us a little about how his past jobs and how he and his team came up with the idea for Toontastic. The best part of the call was that Andy was genuinely interested in the new ideas my students had for Toontastic. My wife who is also teaches at our school asked Andy about his dream as a child. In his response Andy talked about how he loved to play with toys and dreamed about making toys for a living. Before parting Andy gave my students some great advice. “Sometimes the jobs you really want don’t really exist right now. And you kind of have to go and make them yourselves. And if there is something you see now that doesn’t exist go and make it yourself.” Great advice for kids especially for Korean students who struggle with creativity because of strict standardized education.
FUTURE SKYPE CALLS
In the next few weeks I’ve lined up a couple of Skype calls for my primary and upper elementary students. Next week we will talk with Lisa and Michael Cohan, a mother and son team who write children’s books. Lisa and Michael will help our students learn about story writing and she will write the story they brainstorm together.
Near the end of July we will meet the Night Zookeeper. The Night Zoo Keeper will help students explore their imaginations as well as their artistic abilities. Students will also create their own animals and learn how to care for them.