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Videoconferencing with Elementary School Students

November 16, 2008 21st Century Skills, AWW80S, Collaboration, Elementary School 18 Comments

Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with teachers and students from Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina. We connected Preschoolers (4/5 year olds), Kindergarteners (5/6 year olds) first (6/7 year olds), and 6th (11/12 year olds) graders.

The success of these Skype connections are due mainly to the planning and commitment of the teachers involved on both sides of the webcam. I know without a doubt that their enthusiasm, adventurism and even blind trust in me with whatever I throw at them, contributes to being able to expose our students to a classroom open to a big world out there.

Here goes my shoutout to Heidi Musteros from Argentina, Tatiana Ugaz from Peru, Kathy Balek, Jane Cassette, Lisa Cronin, Allison Weaver & Terry Pickering from the USA. Without them, I would not have been able to see and hear our students so excited, surprised that the kids on the screen are “real”, learn about cultural differences and similarities and simply becoming “aware”.

An invaluable resource for me in preparing and setting the conferences up was Kim Cofino’s post 4 Steps to a Skype-tastic Video Conference. I set up 4 “hot seats” in the first row. The webcam was directly aimed at them, while we set up a few more rows up behind them for the rest of the class. It only took one time to show students that how to enter and exit efficiently out of the hot seat row.

6th graders from Buenos Aires and ours were the “guinea pigs” of our first skype conference. We wanted them to introduce each other and get a feel for the other group that they would be working on a video for, describing what life was like around the city that they lived in. On Halloween we received a invitation to skype the kids in Argentina again, as they had a “surprise” …. they dressed up in masks for us,

6th graders had never thought about the fact that Halloween might not be celebrated outside the US. How do you explain to someone “Trick or Treat”? What? Ring people’s doorbells and get candy from them? Maybe that might sound strange to someone else.

With the Kindergarten class we planned three Skype sessions with a class in Lima, Peru. The first one we wanted to play a game, where the five year olds would be able to introduce themselves. We lined up in a half circle on either side of the webcam and used a counting out rhyme in Spanish. The child that was picked went to the webcam and introduced themselves with “Me llama” or “My name is..”. The other side welcomed each student then personally with an enthusiastic “HOLA”.

For the second session, the class learned together with our Spanish teacher , a song in Spanish called “Una mano, dos manos”. Tatiana in Peru had also prepared the same song with her students. It was great to be able to sing together, although we were on 2 different continents, thousands of miles apart.

The students in Peru then taught us another song in Spanish called “La vaca Lola”

From that song, we asked each other what kind of sounds do other animals make in our countries. We found out that the dog says “wau-wau” in Peru, while in the USA it say “woof”. Cats in both countries say “Miau”, while a rooster will say “cacadoodledoo” in the USA and in Peru will sing “Kikeriki”.

Each class had a chance to ask questions : What is the weather like today?, What time is it?

We finished the video conference by singing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” in English and Spanish.


We can’t wait for our next videoconference with Peru next week as we will have a combined bilingual storytime.

Another video conference took place between two first grade classes (Argentina/USA). This time the children did not have one language in common. I started out by showing Google Earth on our screen and pointing the webcam at the screen at the same time, so both classes could see. We zoomed into Florida all the way to our school campus and then “flew” to South America into Buenos Aires.

We planned on a TPR (Total Physical Response) style lesson for both students. We gave each other commands, such as stand up, sit down, touch your nose, turn around, clap, dance, etc.

The realization that the kids on the screen are real and are watching us the same way that we were watching them came for the students, when they would sit down or touch their noses at the same time as we did.

How exciting to watch and hear the little ones talk about playing and talking with kids in Argentina and Peru, like it is the most natural thing in the world!

Looking forward to continuing to expose our elementary school students to something that seems to come so natural to them.


Currently there are "18 comments" on this Article:

  1. How wonderful for all of these children!!! I love seeing Skype in the early elementary classrooms.

  2. Brian Crosby says:

    Too cool. I’d love to have connections to Spanish speaking students to Skype with for my mostly Spanish speaking 6th graders. Would be a good experience for them.
    Brian

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences. What fun! We’re just beginning a 5th grade collaborative writing project using a wiki and then Skype videoconferencing. Maybe if all works well, we can venture out to other countries!

  4. [...] Videoconferencing with Elementary School Students 16 November 2008 1 views No Comment Over the past few weeks, I had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with teachers and students from Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina. We connected Preschoolers (4/5 year olds), Kindergarteners (5/6 year olds) first (6/7 year olds), and 6th (11/12 year olds) graders Original post: Videoconferencing with Elementary School Students [...]

  5. Katie Bennett says:

    I can say from watching from the sidelines that this has been a very rewarding project for these children. Silvia has forged a lot of trust and respect with the adventures that she takes us on and the Teachers that ‘just go with it,’are rewarded greatly with their students experiences and learning! Thanks Silvia. Brian – Who’s to say that we can’t Skype with some Spanish speaking American schools?

  6. Kim Cofino says:

    What a fantastic experience for your students and for all of the teachers! I’m so glad that my post was helpful to you in setting up your conference – I learned the hard way not to just expect that we can all organize ourselves to talk and share during a conference ;) Love that you’ve included so many pictures! It really brings your experience to life!

  7. [...] the impact the Skype Video Conferences has had these past few months on our elementary school students is encouraging. The easiness and [...]

  8. Charlene says:

    How could I get in touch with an elementary school in Peru? I’m interested in having my students writing to students there (pen-pals).

  9. Langwitches says:

    @Charelene
    The best way to get in contact with teachers from around the world is to build your PLN (Personal Learning Network) Sign up for twitter, become a member of a Ning. I would suggest Classroom 2.0 You will find many educators around the world, ready to collaborate.

  10. [...] blogging unit plan, her guide to using your own icons on google maps or earth and her videoconferencing with elementary school students post. [...]

  11. [...] Recent Comments HeilMile.de − Langwitches Blogging Unit for Download on Blogging Unit for DownloadLangwitches Blogging Unit for Download on Blogging Unit for DownloadNilah Cote on Blogging with Elementary School StudentsLangwitches Blogging Unit for Download on Blogging Unit for DownloadThe World A.T. Ways » In which best practices lead the way on Videoconferencing with Elementary School Students [...]

  12. Mike Artell says:

    I’m a children’s book author/illustrator and former TV cartoonist. During my, “in person” school visits I share my books and then I give the kids step-by-step cartooning instructions. Everyone draws along and it’s great fun.

    I’d be VERY interested in doing a limited number of free skype sessions with elementary or middle school students just so I can learn something about how it’s done. Once again, I usually charge for my school visits so I can’t do an unlimited number of free sessions, but if your school is interested, I’ll be happy to talk with you.

    Mike Artell

  13. John Ingle says:

    Hi Mike,

    I teach second grade in Tennessee and would love for you to Skype with my class and tell/show us what all you do for a living. I’m sure my kids would think that would be great to talk with you and ask questions. My e-mail is jmingle@roaneschools.com and Skype account is Kingston Elementary.
    Thanks!

    John Ingle
    Second Grade Teacher
    Kingston, Tennessee
    MSgt, USAF Retired

  14. Hi Mike,

    If you need a bit more practice our school would love to ask you some questions also… We are just getting started with skype and I would love the opportunity to ask you a few questions. My e-mail is garceaut@guilford.k12.ct.us my skype name is teresag70
    Thanks,
    Teresa Garceau LMS
    Calvin Leete Elementary School
    Guilford, CT 06437

  15. Patricia Hintz says:

    I want to use skype in my classroom.
    WHo is willing to share this opportunity with me and my kindergarten classroom??????

    Thanks,
    patricia hintz

  16. Langwitches says:

    @Patricia

    Why don’t you check out the Around the World with 80 Schools project.
    You can sign up by leaving your contact info and then gain access to over 140 schools in over 25 countries to connect with via Skype.

    Here is the link to the wiki:

    http://aroundtheworldwith80schools.wikispaces.com

  17. Mike Artell says:

    Just a quick follow-up to my posting. I’ve Skyped with three schools so far and have several others scheduled. David Cosand, a 5th Grade teacher at Kennedy Elementary school in Medford, OR created a WONDERFUL YouTube video of my visit with his kids. If you want to see how we did it – take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cI6jhq8kty0

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