Thursday, 14 June 2012

Video Conferencing with America

Over the last 2 terms I have been regularly video conferencing with a school called Dover Elementary in Westlake Ohio. 

Now until recently it has focused on each class telling the other about different things such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. These have been nice sessions but they have been stand alone.
Since Easter we have had a bigger focus. We have been investigating and telling each other about our local area. This has linked to Dover’s topics than ours but I ran with it and adapted my lessons to it. 

For our first session we had the children researching interesting places within a mile of their school. I tried to do this as a field tip but due to weather it was done virtually using ipads and Google street view - more on this in another post. The children produced short PowerPoint’s of the interesting areas which we could show. The classes then met and presented what they had found. We each focused on 10 facts and asked questions. It was a great session where we learnt a lot. We tried to display the images over the VC camera but this was a slow process for some reason. Dover had already sent me their presentation as they didn’t have the ability to send the PowerPoint image though their camera. We decided not to try sending images via the camera again.

Then both Ashley and I did some teaching of each other’s classes. It was an idea when planning this local area project that I had which we both I wanted to try. I'd done lots of VC with children presenting, but none with me teaching a class. So Ashley went first and without her class present taught my class about the history of Westlake. I had a PowerPoint of images that I had to show beforehand to get my class thinking. She then explained and discussed the images and we asked questions. I showed the Presentation my end while she was talking. The children could see both Ashley and the images - as you can see in this picture.

 Then a few days later it was my turn to teach. I have to admit it was an exciting experience that I had been looking forward to. I had to explain the history of Redbridge, something that took me ages to research and then distil into a 30minute session. Like Ashley I sent over a PowerPoint with some images for her class to look at before the session and to refer to during the session. I asked her class about the pictures and then told them about them. It was a great session and the VC camera allowed me to easily interact with the class.  It was nice to focus solely on the VC image and not my class as well. Though Ashley had to pick children who had their hands up.

This is what I saw. 

This is what they saw their end.

Finally as part of this local area work we met on Friday to give a list of similarities and differences about our two areas. This was based on all the work that we had done over the last few sessions. Each class roughly asked 3 of each and a few follow up questions. 

Our final session was for the year was just before half term - they have not gone on summer break. We though our discussions discovered that we both where learning recorder. So each class played a few tunes to each other. We also discussed some of the things we would be doing over our summer breaks.

Nightingale Playing to Dover

Dover Playing to Nightingale

It has been a great experience for me and for my children. We have interacted with the other classes in interesting ways and have learnt a lot. Next year I hope to continue work with the school and expand the scope beyond one class.