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On an e_Journey with Generation Y Anne Mirtchin
Immersing technology in the classroom and beyond into the globe!
Updated: 47 min 17 sec ago
For several months, a connection with a school in a rural area of Japan has been formally planned. Test connections took place and we got a glimpse of the classroom without students.
This was my first quite formal connection as previous skype linkups have been spontaneous, sometimes unplanned, rather relaxed with some discussion on what we would do and how it would look once we connect. The learning has often been customized by the students and teachers involved as the connection evolves. However, with Mariko, a University colleague from Japan, we had a very formal structure in place with specific briefs and time to be taken for each part of our 30 minute connection.
Meanwhile behind the scenes:
The week before, students decided to organise a KrisKringle with the presents being opened on the day of the organised Japanese linkup. Names were drawn out of a hat so that the girls knew who their gift recipient was to be, would spend up to $10 on the gift and decided to open them prior to the Japanese web conference. Meanwhile, staff decided during the week to have a smorgasboard morning tea on that same day.
Prior to the connection:
- On the actual day, I emailed Mariko to ask whether her students would like to hear about Christmas and how we celebrate it here if there was time. She responded yes and suggested we do it at the start of the lesson.
- Students collected ‘Christmas’ type items around the school eg the year 5/6 Christmas tree, examples of craft work, printouts of pictures and amazingly found a Santa costume.
- Students brought in their gifts and placed them in the Santa Bag.
- Printed off individual first names on A4 paper so that the Japanese students would see who was talking to them.
The actual connection
Students completed a survey prior to the connection to share what they already knew about Japan. Surprisingly for me, two or three said that they knew nothing at all. At the appointed time, the skype call came through. We were seated informally around the webcamera, Christmas gear discreetly out of sight and faced a very formal classroom setup with the Japanese students seated in rows, some with masks over their mouths and a couple of girls with a blanket over their knees.
The girls proceeded to introduce themselves one at a time, name tag clearly displayed. Then showed some of the pictures, craft work and the Christmas tree. As this was going on, a lot of noise was coming from the corner of the room. About to reprimand those who were making the noise, I saw that they were quickly trying to dress a student in the Santa costume. With no planning at all, Santa, then grabbed the presents that were placed in the Santa sack, ho ho’ed her way into to the webcamera and did the Kris Kringle on the spot!
There was much laughter and fun as the girls opened their presents in front of the web camera and showed what they closer to the camera. There were chocolates, lollies, lip gloss, cosmetics and jewellery. Curiousity gave way as we had to explain what some of the goods were and compare whether some of the confectionery and chocolates were available in Japan. At times we had to wait to be interpreted, a new skill for the girls to learn.
Talk then proceeded to the food we eat, when I suddenly remembered the leftovers from our smorgasboard morning tea. Leaving the girls to continue talking, I returned with some of the special cakes, chocolates and part of Christmas fruit cake. Britt Gow a fellow teacher shared her fruit cake with them and explained what it was.
It was then question time. Our girls wanted to know why the boys were wearing the face masks and why the girls had a rug on their knees. Too quickly it was time to say goodbye and despite the fact that we did not follow our original program, the lesson worked, was fun, student led and directed with one of our favourite festivals and Santa taking pride of place!
Where does the year go? With the end of our Australian school nigh it is time for the Edublogs Awards. Many people argue against awards for a variety of reasons but these awards are special as they are organic, nominated and voted for by the general public, highlight those who are doing some wonderful things both in and for, education and give us a wonderful resource bank of trends, thinking and learning. There are no prizes attached but the fact that blogs, resources and other online tools are nominated brings to the attention of us all those that have a special place in the lives and education of many.
In the school holidays, I love to go through the many nominations and see which resources will be of relevance and interest to me. There are new blogs to peruse, apps to try and online tools to experiment with.
It was with some surprise that I noticed my name had been added to the edblogs twitter list for “life time achievement’ awards. Whoever nominated me, I wish to thank you very sincerely. It makes much of the risk taking, the high evergy intake and time taken worthwhile. It also shows the value of the PLN and its wonderful place and role in pushing learning in innovative directions.
However, I was really surprised to read a tweet by my valued friend and colleague, Julie Lindsay asking people to consider voting for this blog as it had been nominated for the Best Teacher Blog. I had no idea that it was on the list until that tweet.
— Julie Lindsay (@julielindsay) December 6, 2014
Again it is such an honour to be nominated and although I will not actively persue on a public scale, if you do vote for me, I thank you so much, not only for the vote but for being a special part of my life!
If you should wish to vote for any of those nominated across the globe, please goto the Edublogs Awards site and ‘get lost’ looking at all the onderful nominations. Click on the like button and follow the prompts.
Others that are special to me include:-
- Best Open PD – Unconference Series - The Global Education Conference
- The Global Classroom Project Wiki – Best Educational Wiki
- Global Classroom hashtag #globalclassroom for Best Twitter Hashtag or Chat
- Skype in Education Best educational use of a social network
- Many of the nominations in the Lifetime Achievement – Sue Waters, Peggy George, Sue Wyatt (all have played an important role in my journey)
Always on the lookout for bringing the outside world into my classrooms, a recent email from a colleague alerted me to the Clickfest Festival held during November. It is described on the flyer as:-
… an annual video conferencing festival run in November each year. ClickFest is an exciting initiative from education organisations across Australia. It highlights the diversity and scope of video conferences available to schools across Australia. Sessions are delivered free or at reduced cost to schools, providing a great opportunity for teachers to give it a go.
Some of the virtual excursions were only available to NSW Australian schools, some cost money but there were others that were free and a slot was available to a school outside of NSW. The “Inspiring Stories Marine Scientists: chasing eddies, drawing blood, restoring underwater forests and catching the invisible!” sounded really interesting. My year 7 ICT class was booked in through DART connections. Polycom videoconferencing equipment was to be used for the connection. A successful connection was almost guaranteed as the affirmative email from Anne Doran, the Education Officer from the Australian National Maritime Museum covered
- setting up a time to test the connection prior to the event;
- clear instructions and tips for a successful videoconference linkup
- a copy of the presentation (should the content sharing fail at the remote end)
- a backup phone number contact if major problems occur
Here are my modified instructions based on this email.
The videoconference was a great success. The four scientists shared their presentations using content sharing, showed photos of their work, displayed a sense of humor, were engaging to the students with topics of high interest to my 13 year old girls and spoke for just the right length of time. They talked about previous careers – like ice skating and how they got from there into marine science, research field trips to Antarctica, moving seaweed forests to ocean floors that had lost their seaweed etc.
Students enjoyed it as they could interact, ask questions, see the work they did, listen to the experts in that field and as we live 30 mins from the sea or ocean it is an environment they are familiar with.