Submitted by Fiona Beal
There are many exciting ways to bring the world into your classroom in a our global age, and using Microsoft Skype is one of these. Using Skype in the classroom is a great way to flatten the classroom walls and connect with others around the world. In this post I”ll mention two exciting ways in which you can use this free online video tool, Skype, in your classroom this month. The great thing is that Microsoft provides all the necessary support to get you going!
I really recommend you try out a Mystery Skype! This week two of my classes, a Grade 3 class and a Grade 4 class, were involved in Mystery Skype activities with other classes in South Africa. This is such a fun way for your class to learn about other parts of South Africa if you are a South African teacher. These were our first two Mystery Skype sessions and we were nervous. But we needn’t have worried as the other classes were just as nervous! The goal was to discover the other school’s name and location by using questioning techniques with yes or no answers, and Geography resources. The classes really enjoyed the events thoroughly, and so did I.
What is a Mystery Skype?
Mystery Skype is an interactive learning game where two classrooms use Skype and a series of questions to guess each other’s locations and find out more about each other. It is suitable for all ages, and gives kids an interactive way to build skills one question at a time.
What resources do you need for a Mystery Skype?
You’ll definitely need a computer with a webcam and microphone, and which is connected to the Internet, as well as a data projector and screen so that everyone can see what is happening. You’ll need to do a free download of the Skype software and set up an account which includes creating a Skype ID that you will share with others to make the calls. The class would need access to atlases or digital devices that can access Google Earth or a map program. To be really organised read Tina Schmidt’s post Playing the Mystery Skype Game for some useful pointers.
Organising your class for the Skype session
It is a good idea to assign different jobs during the Skype call to keep the students on task. Examples are question askers, question answerers, thinkers who come up with questions, note takers to keep track of what info they have learned, atlas mappers, photographers, videographers, etc. Read Pernille Ripp’s post ‘Mystery Skype Jobs Created by My Students’ for some great job ideas.
This popular video below gives a great overview of the value of a Mystery Skype and how to run it.
Further reading on Mystery Skype
1. Visit the Microsoft Educator Community on this link and see all their useful resource m material to get you started. http://bit.ly/2jZ3gwI
2. You can take a look at the Mystery Skype OneNote notebook called ‘Welcome to Mystery Skype on this link http://bit.ly/2jZr7MX. It is filled with useful information about playing Mystery Skype.
World Read Aloud Day
Now that my appetite for using Skype in the classroom has been really whetted I am keen to try out Microsoft’s World Read Aloud Day invitation on 16th February.2017. This is when you can Invite an author to join your class live via Skype in celebration of World Read Aloud Day! Microsoft has organised over 200 authors, poets, illustrators and storytellers to visit classrooms around the world via Skype.. All Skype in the Classroom activities are free and an opportunity to break down the walls of your classrooms and inspire the next generation, no matter where you are in the world. Visit the World Read Aloud section on the Microsoft Educator Community on this link: http://bit.ly/2jZdDAK
Last year for World Read Aloud Day organised by Litworld, we connected with a class in Canada and we each read a story to the other class on Skype. That is also a fun thing to arrange. It is rumoured that our South African site, Nal’ibali has commissioned award-winning children’s author, Niki Daly, to write its special World Read Aloud Day story. Titled, ‘The Best Sound in the World’, the story has been translated into South Africa’s 11 official languages and illustrated by Rico. Along with supporting materials, it will be available for free on the Nali’bali website, www.nalibali.org and at www.nalibali.mobi in February. I am going to take advantage of this as well as the author option.
How to join in and invite an author via Skype
Simply visit Microsoft’s literacy page and on there you’ll see a range of different activities. Click through to read more and if the activity is right for your students, you can request a session with the host- some share their calendars on the site and others will follow up via email to arrange the exact date and time.
Don’t forget to share the fun on World Read Aloud Day!
Share your literacy adventures on World Read Aloud Day by tagging Skype classroom on Twitter @Skypeclassroom using the hashtags #skype2learn and/or #skype2read
What’s happening the rest of the year with Skype?
Skype classroom has a calendar of events which shows their annual major events, but it’s also worth regularly checking the Skype in the Classroom homepage for the latest new virtual adventures as they are publishing new activities all the time.
One warning…your classes will want more of these experiences!