Skype in the Classroom (SITC) helps educators and students build bridges with people, countries, and experiences. Students and teachers break down their classroom walls to connect with experts and other learners through these five SITC activities:
VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS: Virtual field trips are a wonderful way to connect what students are learning to real-life experiences and experts in the field. Students visit virtual field trips to places they may never get to visit in their lifetimes, or they participate in behind-the-scene experiences they would not have access to viewing. An example of this is a science class going on a Virtual Field Trip to a Zoological Hospital to watch a surgery or a medical procedure being done on an animal to help them see up close and personal what the textbook does not show them.
LESSONS: Skype lessons are created by experts in various fields. These experts range from scientists, engineers, authors, conservationists and many more. Students connect with the experts after completing a lesson they create. For example, students read a book with their teachers and then Skype with the author. During the Skype call, students interview the author to learn about the ideas behind the book and discuss the book's themes and characters. Since many authors cannot visit a school or classroom, Skype makes it easy for them to talk with students about their books.
COLLABORATIONS: Collaborative projects are a great way to connect with classrooms around the world to work on projects, explore different cultures, and build greater compassion and empathy for one another. Teachers across the world create Skype collaborations for other classrooms to join. The collaboration projects focus on a learning goal each class must achieve together even though they may be countries apart. For example, two classrooms explore different aspects of digital citizenship and co-create a web page about digital citizenship which they share with their schools.
MYSTERY SKYPE GAMES: Mystery Skype is an educational game played by two classrooms on Skype. The game helps classrooms connect, collaborate, and learn together. The aim of the game is to build cultural awareness, critical thinking skills, and geography skills by guessing the location of the other classroom through a series of yes/no questions. It is suitable for all age groups, from kindergarten through university students, and can be adapted for any subject area. For example, younger students can play Mystery Animal and older students can play a Mystery Periodic Table Element.
GUEST SPEAKERS: Skype in the Classroom has a collection of hundreds of guest speakers. Guest speaker sessions serve as real-world examples about what students may be learning and are a great way to expose students to different careers and experts. Examples of guest speaker sessions include author talks or Skyping with a scientist. Another way is to have students connect with others who have lived through important historical time periods such as veterans, civil rights activists, and Holocaust survivors. These important figures can speak directly to students about their unforgettable stories and inspire them with life lessons.
SITC activities and resources are FREE. They can be found online at www.skypeintheclassroom.com. Educators create an account and build their profile in a few steps and clicks. Then they start exploring the SITC resources to find the countless, live, educational experiences they can use to make learning relevant, engaging, and fun for their students.
Getting started is easy. Here are five tips to help:
Take the “Introduction to SITC" course.
Download and/or create the required Skype accounts.
Get classrooms Skype-Ready
Organize a Skype Playbook with details for each SITC call.
Use learning recommendations for etiquette, OneNote, and Flipgrid.
Additionally, here are some SITC sessions I recommended. I have participated in them with students and teachers or they were endorsed by my SITC friends. This list will provide the jump start educators need for Back to School. They can use the tips and activities to have success with SITC for the new school year (more resources can be found here).
Finally, don’t forget to spread the word and share the magic of SITC! Happy Skyping.
Pictured from left to right: Kyle Calderwood, Gina Ruffcorn, Anthony Salcito, Michelle Singh