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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Skype in the Classroom - Sometimes it IS about the Tool!

Being home sick is no longer an excuse to miss school!  Well, okay, it really is.  However, it doesn't mean you have to totally miss out with what is going on in your classroom.  With the right tool you can attend school even from home!

Student skyping from iPad while Ranger Skypes Class
Today, the fourth grade classes at our school participated in a skype call with Yellowstone National Park Ranger, Beth Taylor.  This pre-arranged call coincided with our study of another national park, Yosemite through the story, Letters Home from Yosemite, by Lisa Halvorsen.

For weeks the anticipation of speaking to a real park ranger had been building.  One of my students, a nature and animal lover, asked me almost daily if 'today was the day'.  Well, today was the day, and as it turned out the nature and animal lover was unable to attend school due to an illness.

Her genuine disappointment was evident through her mother's email as she shared her daughter's absence.  This program was something I knew this young lady would love.  So, I contacted her mom and suggested she procure a skype account so that we could skype her daughter at the same time we would be skyping with Ranger Taylor.  (We used two different skype accounts.)

As soon as my colleague received the call from the park ranger, I quickly skyped my student using an iPad.  She answered the call and was ready to go.  I placed the iPad near the laptop that was being used to communicate with the ranger.  Now as all the other students were watching the call projected on the screen at the front of the room, my absent student watched from inside her home. Talk about a front row seat!

Sometimes it is the tool!  Watching the excitement on my pupil's face when she first saw the Ranger was priceless.  (Watching the excitement on the 70+ others in the room was also priceless.)  Without Skype accessing this primary source would not have been available to her.   Just think of a child who is at home for one reason or another.  How could Skype be used to include that student in your daily lessons.  This really is one tool that can be used in so many ways to enhance learning! 

How have you used Skype to enhance the learning of your students?


  1. Amazing how the tools to communicate and quick thinking teachers can bring these lessons not only to the classroom but to the home. The kids get two lessons instead of one!

    What a great idea, but watch out! If the politicians get wind, there may not BE a classroom.

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