On Friday I had my first Skype…ever! Sounds terrible, I know…It’s been on my list for a while, but I hadn’t mustered the courage to try it until now. There are a lot of things that can go wrong-technology/hardware issues, interruptions, my lack of understanding of how to prepare the students to name a few. I had heard such great things about Skyping from my 10-year old piano student Hannah, that I finally decided to give it a try.
I decided to float the idea past my fantastic preservice teacher, Sarah. She was very excited and promptly got me signed into an account and explained how it all worked. She used examples of how she Skyped with her family when she went to Europe and was very animated when she spoke. I was hopeful that this enthusiasm would be contagious to our class. We did a “practice” Skype with Sarah in the hall with her cell phone. The class was immediately hooked and so was I.
The way the scheduling went, Sarah couldn’t be there on Friday, so we were very fortunate that our VP Tia came by with her iPad and videotaped the Skype. Not only could we share our Skype with Ms. Dalzell, we could review it and reflect on how we could improve for next time.
Here is a highlight video of the Skype:
As you can see from the photo and video, we had a speaker’s chair in front of the laptop and a list of questions prepared with the speaker’s name next to each question:
When I e-mailed Trevor to set up the Skype time he was very helpful with advice for our first Skype. He said to use Google Earth and Wikipedia to research the city/area and to prep a list of questions and a speaker’s list. We found this advice very helpful, especially to give my students some background knowledge about California and SanFrancisco before talking to our new friends.
The Skype went really well, with students engaged and eager to participate. We reflected on the experience after and came up with a strategy to keep the conversation going:
We decided that if we give information and then ask a question we would be able to keep the conversation going better than if we asked close-ended questions. It was such an authentic way to develop our communication skills with a real life application. I feel that my students saw the relevancy of clear communication so much more than if we had done an artificial roll-play or (god forbid) an icky worksheet on how to ask questions!
We are looking forward to chatting with Room2 in November and developing our speaking skills even more.
A big shout out and thank you to Trevor Mattea, Sarah Dalzell and Tia Henriksen for your help and support-such a great experience for our students and their language development. Thanks!