I did this so much in the classroom that I thought long and hard about making a multi-part series talking about how to do it from start to finish so others could partake in the fun when school gets started back up! Getting started with a project like this does take a little planning so get started now if you want to try it this coming year! With this coming school year brings new and exciting changes and opportunities to education. Two big trends that are coming are project based learning and real world application, this activity covers both!
When I speak about video chatting, I’m talking about how teachers would connect with each other to connect their classrooms together for students to chat from some like them from halfway across the world. I used to use a website from Skype from Education (which no longer is available as far as I know because it became easier to connect over social media. If you know if the mystery Skype for Education site is still up somewhere please let me know!) Through this site though, I was able to connect with other educators from all over the world to schedule video chat sessions between my students and theirs to explore different learning opportunities together. Being a music educator at the time so there were a few opportunities to explore, the tree that made the most sense were,
- Song Share – Each group of students learns a few folk songs from their part of the world to sing to their new friends.
- Question and Answer- Each group creates several questions for their new friends in preparation for the big day before taking turns sharing questions and getting answers.
- Performance Practice- There were times especially during busy seasons that I was unable to find other music educators available to chat with, but willing educators from all over who were very willing to listen to my classes practice for their grade level shows.
All really good and meaningful opportunities that students remembered for years after. There was one time, I had my entire 4th grade class from one school join me in my room early morning with their teachers to listen to some new friends in England sing some folk songs from their part of the world while my 4th graders sung some patriotic tunes they had been learning and then had time to ask a few questions. Several months later they were still talking about the experience!
So how do you get started,
- Reach out over social media to connect with other teachers looking for video chat opportunities. The best places to schedule something would be either over Twitter using hashtags like #musedchat, #edchat, #mysteryskype, or through Facebook using one of the Facebook groups like Music Teachers or Mystery Skype/Skype in the Classroom group.
- Meet up with the teacher either over video chat or email to plan together. Figure out what you want to do, when you want to do it, and how you want to do it.
- Make sure to prep your students before. Being in front of camera is like a performance, lay down the expectations and rules including noise levels and how to sit or stand while on camera.
Plan ahead and get a few scheduled before the school year starts! These are fun little informances and ways to connect with other teachers and schools from around the world that really create awesome and memorable experiences for your students!