Increase Student Engagement with Skype in the Classroom

Guest Post from Lisa Mims.

always amazing to me how educators, can grab hold of something that
wasn’t developed with us in mind, and make it our own. We have a knack
for doing that, and we’ve done it with Skype. With Skype, educators are
knocking down classroom walls,allowing our students the chance to hear
from experts, and creating global learners.

heard wonderful stories of teachers using Skype in their classrooms,
and I envied them. I vowed that 2011-2012, I would take advantage of
Skype.  At the beginning of the school year, I got webcams from
Then I bugged my IT person for three weeks, until he finally came  in
and hooked up my webcam. (Not that I didn’t know how, but I didn’t have
administrative access).  We were ready!

My first experience was Mystery State.
I connected with a teacher in another state. Our students exchanged
clues in order to guess each other’s states. We did this several times
with various classes throughout the U.S., during the school year.  Each
teacher had their own
preference  for how it was done.

We participated in the Global Read Aloud Project .
Students from all over the world read “Tuck Everlasting” and then
discussed it. I connected with a teacher in Mississippi, and our classes
had a book discussion via Skype! What an opportunity to engage our
students and promote critical thinking!

Skyped with a marine biologist and a student marine biologist! The
student biologist Skyped from a beach in Florida!  The questions were
flying and our experts answered every one of them! On
World Read Aloud Day, we had an author, a CNN analyst, and his wife read “A Wrinkle in Time”, a story we were enjoying for Read Aloud.

All of my connections were made through Twitter,
but you can find experts anywhere! A parent, someone in your community,
anyone who would be willing to Skype with your students, and provide
that “real world” application so often missing from our lessons.  

An excellent resource, that I did not take advantage of last year, is Skype in the Classroom.
This site gives you access to an enormous amount of projects, with
people all over the world, who are willing to Skype with our students.

Helpful Tips for Implementing Skype in the Classroom

  • Make sure Skype is not blocked in your district. If it is, find out who can unblock it.
  • Create a Skype account.
  • Classroom management is a must! Assign jobs.
  • Make sure everyone can be seen and heard.

  • Do a test run before the actual Skype.
  • Make sure there’s someone there who can help if you need it, it could be a student.
  • Be prepared! My kids always had their questions on index cards.
  • Have a time limit.
  • Don’t panic if the tech messes up, it happens! 🙂 Reschedule.
  • If Skyping with someone who has given of their time, send Thank you letters or notes. (optional)

There are so many ways to use Skype in your classroom, hopefully you will take advantage of at least one! Who you gonna call? 🙂

Mims is a 27+ year educator, who is still passionate about teaching!
She is a 5th grade teacher in New Castle, DE. She loves discovering, and
learning, about creative, techy, ways to engage her students. Lisa is
the author of two blogs,
Diary of a Public School Teacher! and Word of Mouth:Tech Tools and Resources! She can also be found on Twitter @BriteEyes49.

Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!