Update- Around The World With 80 Schools

4 Days ago, I announced the creation of Around the World with 80 Schools on my blog and twitter. I invited interested teachers to sign up via a Google Form.

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Since Sunday, we have 49 teachers signed in from:

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. Peru
  4. Argentina
  5. England
  6. Spain
  7. Estonia
  8. Israel
  9. Thailand
  10. Malaysia
  11. China
  12. Australia
  13. Scotland (updated as I was writing this blog post :) )

A few more teachers have commented and e-mailed me of their interest:

  • Germany
  • New Zealand
  • Bulgaria
  • India

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Please, please help me spread the word, by possibly blogging about the project on your own blog and encouraging teachers in your school or district to participate. We especially need schools in Africa, Europe and Asia to connect to.

I have been working on creating a Around the World with 80 Schools Wiki, that will give  participants a central place for information, time lines, pictures of the video conferences, links, etc. I am also planning on creating an “Around the World with 80 Schools” blog for my school, where my students can record their reflections on the connections made with 80 schools.

The Wiki will be a work in progress, but here are the main areas so far.

What do you need to connect with another school and Skype?

  • Computer
  • Internet Connection
  • Downloaded Skype program
  • webcam (usually has an integrated multidirectional microphone)
  • microphone (if not integrated with webcam)

How to set up Skype?

How to set up your classroom?

  • Have 1-4 “hot seats” in front of the camera
  • Have the area around the webcam well lit

Skyping for the first time

I would suggest to set up a test skype before you skype with your students the first time. Nothing is more nerve wrecking than to have a classroom full of students and NOTHING is happening on the screen.
I have tested the skype set up between two classrooms in our school before, as well as with the other school (without students). Let the students know that technology is not fail proof. Have a backup plan, in case your call does not go through or your internet connection is down.

Preparing your Skype Call

1. What to expect of the Skype Calls:

  • Keep it short. The idea is a quick in and quick out.
  • Skype calls can be from one minute to no longer than 5 minutes.
  • Let’s connect, just to say Hello , Hola, Ni Hao, Hallo, Shalom, etc.

2. Preparing your students ahead of time for the Skype Call

  • Ask yourselves what you would share with the other school about your own school, country, city?
  • Figure out ahead of time,  if you want to collect authentic data from the schools that your are connecting with, in order to work with spreadsheets, analyze and compare data and create graphs later on. What kind of data, related to your curriculum are you looking for?
  • What questions would you ask of them?
  • What knowledge do you already have of the location/culture/etc.
  • Locate their city and country on the map.
    • Where in relationship to your location
    • Time Zone
    • Hemisphere
    • Season/Weather
    • population
  • Consider having a “Show and Tell” item.
  • Remember you will only have up to 5 minutes for Q &A
  • Examples:
    • What languages do you speak in the country you live in?
    • How do you say “?” ?
    • What is your favorite sport to play or watch?
    • What kind of music do you like to listen to?
    • What is the nearest big city?
    • What is the name of your president?
    • What did you always wanted to know about our country/city?
    • Be creative and have one “unexpected” question to ask
  • Practice how the change in “hot seats” will occur. Handing over of the microphone, etc.
  • Have a digital camera and flip camera ready to be documenting the video conference.
  • Decide if you want to record the Skype conversation:
    • Ecamm- record video too (Mac)

    During the Skype Call

    • Make sure your webcam is mounted stable and pointing to share the faces of your students (not the top of their heads or the ceiling)
    • It is helpful to have a “hot seat” in front of the webcam/microphone. The “other side” will be able to focus better on one or a few people rather than a larger crowd.
    • Have a rule of only one person speaking at a time. It gets very confusing if several people are speaking at once for your listeners/viewers.
    • If you have several students who will be talking, make sure they vacate and take the hot seat quietly and least amount of movement.
    • Background crowd needs to move as little as possible, as that constitutes a major distraction.
    • Introduce yourself and your class to your “visitors”.
    • Have students ask their questions or share, show and tell about topics you have prepared.
    • Keep the call under 5 minutes.
    • Say goodbye as a class

    After The Skype Calls

    • Add the line on Google Maps to connect your last school with the school you just video conferenced with.
    • Talk with your students about what they heard
      • What did we learn?
      • Were you surprised?
    • Have student write or record their impression of the school, country, city, students, etc.
    • Enter collected data in spreadsheet or graph.
    • Connect and compare with other video conferences you already had during the challenge
    • Blog a summary of the experience, add any questions you forgot to ask or observations your class made.
    • Add images taken during the skype call to the blog.

    Objectives
    Integrate

    • geography
    • cultural awareness
    • global awareness
    • global collaboration
    • technology integration
    • social studies
    • math
    • writing

    National Educational Technology Standards (NETS•S)

    2. Communication and Collaboration

    Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:

    a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
    b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.
    c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
    d. contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems.