The Excitement of Skype

Mrs. Neil, do I have to be on camera?  What am I going to say?  I want to be up front.

These and many more statements flew at me as the first of my students came into 3rd period today.  Some were ready, webs in hand.  Others decided they didn’t want to participate.  Genius Hour was about to begin.  This time there was a twist.  We were skyping with Mr. Aion’s class 901 miles away.

I think it went very well.  Both classes were a little nervous.  The students in my class were worried they would be judged.  They were anxious that what they had to offer wouldn’t be accepted.  After all, these were “big city” kids.

Mr. Aion’s class graciously allowed us to share.  I did a lot of the talking to get my students involved.  After a while, his classes started asking questions and both classes realized that we were very much alike.

I really liked what I saw.  But, the most amazing part to me was that when I went to lunch duty, students stopped me to ask when could they Skype.  Teachers told me that my students were excited about what had occurred in my class today.

Now, we didn’t do a lot of math today.  That wasn’t really the point.  We shared with Mr. Aion’s class about our Genius Hour Projects.  My students felt like they had been heard.  My students were the envy of the campus today.  That doesn’t happen very often for these students.

When my next 7th grade class came in, they were very interested in what had happened earlier in the day.  A quick message to Mr. Aion and we were skyping again.  This time it was much more about his class than ours.  That was fine by me.  My students were excited.  Some connections were made.

I can’t wait to get the students so used to Skype that they stop performing for the camera.  I want it to just be a part of what they do.  I want to set up a Skype corner so they can talk to their partners in Mr. Aion’s classes about our projects.  I want it to be another tool they have in their 21st century toolbox.  I can’t wait.

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