Have you ever sat back and just enjoyed your hard work? Have you ever realized pushing yourself just a little bit more than what you want will bring even more joy? This week I reflected on a project that has been hard work for me this year, but now that I’ve had time to sit and enjoy it I’ve realized I’m changing the norm for music class in my district.
So far this year my class has connected with 3 classes from different parts of the world. My 4th grade has connected with England to sing a song for World Peace One Day, and 2 of my 2nd grade classes have connected with a class in New Jersey, and another class in Canada to sing songs in their upcoming show. Each connection even better than the last. To connect other parts of the world with my classroom all I need is:
- A Computer with Skype
- A Microphone
- A Webcam
Thats all I need to have a lesson that can make the toughest class have the best day because they are so excited to see students in a different part of the world. To anyone it is exciting, they get to experience new and the old becomes interesting again. After one Skype call today I had a student shout out “Can we play that game they just did???” The smiles seem to last for days and the talk about it won’t end.
Venturing out into fairly new territory always comes with its challenges, in only 3 calls into this year I’ve learned ways to make my calls better:
- Always do a test call before the actual call date, you never know if something will not work with a certain connection.
- Make sure you write down in a calendar when you are Skyping so you don’t accidentally plan one for the same time OR plan on on a day you are headed to present at a conference!
- When trouble arises, have extra silent work for those students who can’t be on camera to do away from the group.
- Always invite an entire grade level to a Skype call, you never know if they will be up for joining in!
- Make sure you share with your administration about your calls, its not every day this happens!
- Converse with the other teacher about how you want to go about the call, there are different ways you can do it such as : A song share (Where each class sings a song for each other and asks questions), a performance (if you have a class preparing for a show, getting a different audience can be just the thing to get them to practice!), a mystery Skype (Each class tries to guess where the other class is, you could relate it to musical styles or where composers lived).
- Prep the students before hand! They do not know how to act during a call if they have never done one before. They need to know what is going on and be prepared for anything to happen. I prepare my kids as soon as I get a call solidified.
- Make sure you send thanks in return! Keep built bridges standing incase you would like to use them again!
With 3 calls down and at least 3 more to go just this quarter with schools in Illinois, Knoxville Tennessee, and New Jersey again. I have set my sites high to 15 total calls this year with my classes. It’s a blessing I can do so many of these with my kids, and I feel even more connected to my colleagues across the world. Technology is ever changing, 10 years ago we couldn’t do this, but now its a whole different ball game. If we can connect so closely with classes so far away now, how is technology going to enhance that another 10 years from now?
Have you checked out how else I stay a connected educator in this month’s Teaching Music Magazine published out by NAfME? Page 22!!