Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Skype for Dot Day

Today, I Skyped with a group of 5th graders from Columbia, Maryland, at the Longfellow Elementary School, in recognition of International Dot Day. Based on the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, the concept is to make connections with others and share ideas.


The Skype worked well. The students gathered in a group on rug in the school library. Coincidentally, the rug was a map of the USA, which helped because the Skype was a Mystery Skype. After they asked me numerous questions to figure out my location, I asked them if they had a map. Finally, through process of elimination, they figured out I was in Connecticut.

At the end of the Skype, they shared with me their Dot Trading Cards. They will be mailing these cards, so my class can respond and create their own Trading Cards to send back to the Maryland class. Some photos I took of their Dot Trading Cards are at the end of this blog post.  The students took turns showing their cards and asking me if I tried the idea they offered. For instance, one wanted to know if I ever body surfed. That worked well because I grew up on an island where both body surfing and regular surfing were popular.

I let them know that I live in another location now and offered them these clues: my state has rivers and lakes and borders the ocean. They tried Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island, all states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. They asked me if my state had "New" in the title. When I told them it did not, that helped them eliminate some other states. By that time, they knew I lived on the East coast in a state north of theirs. Finally, they figured out the state was Connecticut. One of the students offered a sibling attends Yale University in the state.  I showed them some pictures representative of the state such as the Capitol Building and our state bird, the Robin.

Image: http://www.ctmch.com/


Image: http://www.postcardsfrom.com/stamp/stamp-ct.html



All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Both Dot Day and Skype are ideal ways to connect classes around the world. I was privileged to have this opportunity to meet with a class in another location at the press of a few buttons. Technology offers many learning opportunities. I learned of places to visit in Maryland, and we also discussed the National Mall in DC, which is not far from where the students live.

I also suggested that if they ever get to Connecticut, they should visit Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. I introduced them to Mark Twain and showed them a picture of his house in Hartford. I mentioned the author Lemony Snicket, who some heard of, and told them he went to college in Connecticut. I also squeezed in that Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, lived in the town where my university is located, and showed the students a picture of the Noah Webster House, now a museum. Here two pictures I shared about historic sites and one about Lemony Snicket. I hope they search their school library to find out more about each.

image: http://1850house.com/


Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain_House

Image http://www.lemonysnicket.com/


Students Skyping with other classes makes for excellent geography lessons and information sharing. We even discussed time zones. They wanted to know if I lived in Europe at the start of the Skype. We then discussed what time it would be in England now. There are so many possibilities for learning by using Skype or another video conferencing tool.

What do you see as the possibilities for integrating video conferencing into the classroom setting? Would you be willing to try a Mystery Skype with your students? What areas of the curriculum other than geography do you believe can be achieved through these kinds of contacts? How can video conferencing across classes support curriculum goals and what students should be learning?

For more insight into video conferencing, I encourage you to contact Matthew Winner, the school librarian who arranged this Skype. His Twitter name is @MatthewWinner  if you want to tweet with him. I am sure he will welcome the opportunity, and he might be able to connect you with classes who will Skype with you or your classes.

Here is image of tweet conversation with Matthew Winner following the Skype:


Another way to get in touch with Matthew Winner is through his The Busy Librarian Blog.


On the blog, he has posts about Dot Day and Skypes. Here is a link to one of his posts: Dot Day Connectors Map

Enjoy the pics of the students'  Dot Trading Cards.
















7 comments:

Rachael D. said...

Skyping for Dot Day was a fabulous idea and I wish we did it at my school! It was such a great way to connect children with other classes, teachers, and librarians- in ways that will last beyond Dot Day! The message of the book itself is wonderful, and doing all of these activities and discussions through skype really hit that home. The guessing through skype was also a wonderful idea to foster map and geography skills, tying in social studies. Mystery skype is a great idea and a nice way to tie curriculum to real-world experiences. It also seems like so much fun for the students!

Christina R. said...

What an enriching experience! How great it is to learn about what is going on in other classes and I loved the Dot Day trading cards. International Dot Day promotes creativity, collaboration and certainly communication. I think it should be Dot Day everyday. Students make their mark everyday. I think having these mystery skypes not only works for geography, but is a great way to learn about the cultures from the "locals". When traveling, we tend to always go to the major landmarks, but never hear about the little places that are just as interesting. With these types of skypes, we can learn much more about different states or countries than just what a book tells us about. It could also be used for math (if skyping with another country) to do money conversions, figuring out travel time and distance, costs for travel, etc. If teaching a foreign language, it would be a great way to promote conversations with students from another country. Example, Italian class could talk with students from Italy, Spanish Class can skype with students from Mexico or Spain,etc. This is such a fun and completely real world experience for the students.

Felicia's Blog said...

I, too, wish we could Skype with another group of students in my after school program (even if it was with students at another site). I agree that is is great way to connect with others and see their creativity. I presented the idea of celebrating Dot Day to my director, and she loved it. We read the story to the kids and they did different "dot" paintings, which are on display in the cafeteria for the entire school to see. we also attached an explanation about International Dot Day for other teachers and parents to see. I am hoping we can expand our connection opportunities at some point this year. Since I don't have my own "classroom" I try to discover technology with these group of youngsters. the difficulty is, since we are an extended day program, we do not have all of the same access to the available resources. the school is equipped with smart boards and computers in every room, plus a computer lab, but since it is a new building, we have limited access. Still, I am pushing for us to be able to use some of resources.

Matthew C. Winner said...

So glad we were able to connect! Can't wait for you to get our cards!

Milliscent Morgan said...

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diaa attia said...

, I would like to take the chance for inviting Italian tutors and students who are looking for italian learning skype to view this wonderful website that offers Italian Skype classes http://preply.com/en/italian-by-skype I am currently taking Italian classes there and the quality presented is Excellent and satisfying

Annur Ane said...


Hello! Thank you for your article. I’d like to try to compare it to my previous experience of learning Italian lessons through Skype on online classes for free. I did around 10 conversations over Skype with a native speaker from http://preply.com/en/italian-by-skype. And I was pretty satisfied with their Quality. I think they have a strong teaching quality.Following their course curriculum now I can speak Italian like a native,you don't need to go any school. but I Want to try another option.

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