Using Skype in the Classroom

I don't know about you but I always LOVE getting new ideas for using technology in my classroom.  A few years ago I had a huge light bulb moment and started brainstorming all of the ways I could use Skype in my classroom.  Some of these I have tried and some ideas got put on the shelf for a while since the most Skype action we see around here these days are weekly chats with the grandparents where Madelynn tries to steal the computer and gives them some serious close ups of the inside of her mouth, LOL.

Do you Skype? If not it is SOOO easy to set up an account, and best of all it is absolutely free.  Seriously. You can video call anywhere, even Antarctica! {okay, I'm getting ahead of myself} 

Sign up for your free account here. Then you will need to download the app on your computer, tablet or even your phone.  Whatever you have available in your classroom with internet access. I find the best way to get the whole class engaged is to connect the device to a projector, but you can have the class gather around your computer or even have small groups Skype in rotations.  That's it, now you just need to find people to Skype with! 

The ideas are endless...but here are 10 of my favorite classroom ideas. 
What a fun addition to an author study in your classroom! My school actually participated in the One Book, One School program where everyone in the school received the same book.  We all read it and in the end we had the opportunity to Skype with the author in our auditorium with our whole school! We had students ask questions, and the author talked to students about her ideas and how she decided to become an author.  It was an amazing, authentic and memorable learning experience to say the least. Most authors have a website with their contact info, and you'd be surprised how happy they are to talk to you!
 Similar to talking to an author, wouldn't it be fun to chat with your favorite illustrator.  This one was on my to do list as well.  Imagine Eric Carle or Lois Ehlert conducting an art class with your students in paper making and cutting to create illustrations.  Or David Shannon leading a directed drawing of his namesake character. It'd be my dream come true, #teachernerdalert.
 How often do you have an amazing idea for a field trip only to find out it is cost prohibitive, too far away, or otherwise not accessible for your students?  Skype can bring the field trip to you! I've had friends skype with fire fighters in their fire station, performers backstage at a theater, and health care workers show how they take and develop x-rays.  The ideas are really limitless here, and I love that you can go places that your class may not be allowed to go in person.
This one is kind of similar to taking a field trip except that the focus is more on the one person talking about a specific topic instead of showing around their workplace. Maybe you are learning about weather and you are able to contact a meteorologist in your area willing to give a presentation about weather instruments. Or maybe you are studying insects and an entomologist is willing to talk to your students about the bugs they study. Guest speakers could even be parents reading a story to the class! Again use your imagination and I'm sure you will come up with some amazing experiences for your students.
How many classes get the chance to take a trip to Antarctica to study penguins? My guess would be a big fat ZERO.  Well I decided it would be so COOL {pun intended} to have my students take a trip through the computer to this frozen land. I contacted a penguin scientist through the website  http://www.penguinscience.com/ and low and behold I found a wonderful woman studying penguins in Antarctica willing to talk with us and show us around her little home in the tundra. Here are a few pictures of this awesome day in my classroom. Sorry they aren't the best quality, I was a little caught up in the moment and almost forgot to take any pictures at all!


Okay so you may be thinking "How is this any different than a guest speaker?"  I guess you could say they are pretty darn close to the same thing, but I think they are slightly different because with an interview I have my students prepare much more ahead of time!  If you look closely at our Skype session with the penguin scientist, the kiddos have clipboards for their notes, but also questions they'd like to ask.  We were in the middle of an Antarctica inquiry project and the students had been researching for weeks so they listed questions they still weren't able to answer from their reading and other research in hopes that she could answer them.Nothing like authentic information from the source!! Think about topics of study in your classroom and how students could interview an expert to learn even more about a topic.
 Think pen pals in video form!  You can find english speaking classrooms all over the world through Skype in the Classroom that are looking to connect with others. Do you teach in a bilingual classroom or have ESL students? What a great way to connect to other native speakers! There is even an awesome collaborative game that teachers using Skype created called "Mystery Skype" where two classrooms are matched up and they try to guess the location of the other by asking questions. Super engaging way to integrate geography, history, math, science, and languages.
 I LOVE using readers theater in my classroom and there are a million fun resources out there for these types of fluency scripts. Wouldn't it be great to have students perform these readings via skype for other students, classes, or even parents? Or maybe you have a school performance or event that some parents aren't able to attend. They could skype in and feel like they are a part of the experience. I hold a muffins for moms and donuts for dads celebration every spring for Mothers/Fathers day and there are always a few parents that can't come.  If there are parents that can't get out of work to attend, maybe they could skype in and be present via iPad.  I'm sure they wouldn't want to miss out on their child's sweet singing and dance moves if they had the option!
We all know teachers are constantly looking for ways to supplement their salary, one of which being tutoring. I know many teachers especially in the upper grades that offer extra help through email or even private Facebook groups as well.  Why not use Skype to help the visual learners that just need you to walk them through an activity one more time all from the comfort of your own home! This would be a great option to connect with a student that may be out for an extended period of time as well due to travel or illness.
Lastly this one is less about instruction and more about relationships with parents.  We all know how frustrating it is when we can't meet with parents at conference time. So consider using Skype as an option for parent-teacher conferences when the parent simply cannot come in to meet with you.  Maybe one parent travels for work and they'd both like to be present. Or it happens to fall on the one night they have 7823 other things to do.  The great thing about Skype is that parents can connect anywhere they have internet access.  For some parents offering to meet over their lunch hour, from the comfort of their office is just too easy to say no to!

I truly hope that you can find some valuable ways to use Skype with your students, and I would LOVE to hear about it! Please share below, or better yet take pictures and share with me on Facebook or Instagram!



9 comments

  1. You should be a guest speaker in our classroom! I loved all of these ideas and have never tried them because I have never tried Skype. I know, dinosaur teacher! Thank you for opening my eyes to this form on technology! I have to try one of them soon!
    Melissa from Mrs. Dailey's Classroom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know I would LOVE to be a guest speaker in your classroom, Madelynn might just want to join in too :)

      Delete
  2. What a great idea! I am thinking about guest speakers in my AP Psychology class. Saving this idea for sure.
    Kovescence of the Mind

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that it is one of those things that can be used any grade K-12. So many ideas, and ways to use it!

      Delete
  3. What a great idea to hold parent conferences on Skype! It is so frustrating when they can't come!

    One year we learned about Africa and my class skyped with my friend that lives in South Africa. They loved asking her questions. It was a great learning experience! I need to use it more often.

    Stephanie
    The Learning Chambers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that! When you know someone in an exciting place like that its even better :)

      Delete
  4. I haven't tapped into Skpe yet. Your idea of talking with an illustrator really sparked an interest. I will be looking into this!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This post is genius! I find it frustrating sometimes when I hear about great technology in the classroom but I'm not guided on how it can be utlizied in the classroom. I am in the process of helping teachers in my school with their new iPads and this is something I can definitely pass along to them. Girl, you always have such inspiring posts during our blog hops. I would love for you to stick around for more in the future :-)

    Jasmine
    Buzzing With Mrs. McClain

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great ideas here! Such great ideas to use when I get back in the classroom! You're amazing!

    ReplyDelete

Back to Top