Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Didn't go exactly according to plan ....

So last night, I connected with a group of teachers in Nebraska using skype to discuss how skype can be used in the classroom. This conversation took place after I left work, so I was at home sitting on the couch and my little girl was playing in the other room. I had explained that I needed to make a call, so she needed to watch a movie or play quietly for a minute. Normally my 4 year old daughter is very well-behaved, but as soon as she figured out that she could see herself on the webcam on my laptop, she wanted to show off (sticking out her tongue, making funny faces, and asking me for brownies). I think the teachers in Nebraska found it funnier than I did. :) Even though my little one wanted to be the star of the show, we had a good experience. Maybe they will even ask me (and my daughter) to visit with them again!

As I think about the way my child reacted to seeing herself on the webcam, it reminded me of how my students acted the first few times I used the webcam and/or skype in class. I think some of them also made funny faces and acted out more than normal. Before using a webcam and/or skype with students, it might be a good idea to give them 5 minutes or so to get the "wiggles and sillies" out. You might want to start by skyping with a class in the same building or with someone that you know in person.
But if students (or even adults) act a little silly when using a webcam and/or skype, that is OK too. If things don't work out perfectly for a skype conversation, it is OK. My students blogged about one of our first skype experiences where the sound was not working on one end, but they still loved the opportunity and learned from the experience. Please don't let the fact that everything may not have gone exactly according to plan prevent you from trying it again (or from trying it at all).

The Langwitches Blog has lots of great information about using Skype in the Classroom. She even suggests assigning students jobs (reminds me a bit of jobs for literature circles). My Making Connections with Skype Livebinder is full of suggestions, examples, and experiences to help teachers and students use skype.

Making Connections with Skype
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