Using Skype in the classroom opens windows of opportunity to students
Imagine your child’s favorite author leading today’s read-aloud or his or her class celebrating Chinese New Year with kids from Hong Kong. Imagine if your school district could give them the opportunity to interview, collaborate and be inspired by experts in the arts and sciences. Imagine the impact on the depth of your child’s learning experience if this was possible on a regular basis.
Well imagine no more – all this is happening today in the Ardsley School District and it began in a third grade classroom. Amy Rosenstein, a Concord Road Elementary School teacher and the winner of the Lower Hudson Valley Information Center’s 2013 Pioneer Award, came up with the idea of using Skype to enhance her culture and geography lessons. By organizing Skype conversations, her classes have been able to connect over 30 times with classrooms and families in over 16 countries including India, Kenya, Russia, China, and Brazil.
“Bringing to life the countries and cultures we study by interacting with actual people in those places creates such excitement in my students, “ said Rosenstein. “By seeing the clothes worn in India or the instruments played in Albania or by singing songs in Swahili and English with Kenyan children or talking with a family in New Zealand while they fed milk to their baby lamb, our children gain a global perspective that cannot be learned by reading a textbook or watching a video. It’s the personal communication that impacts the depth of learning”
This new ‘window to the world’ has many more educational benefits. “Our teachers who are using Skype are witnessing higher levels of enthusiasm, curiosity and passion for learning in their classrooms,” said Dr. Lauren Allan, Superintendent for Ardsley Schools. “This technology opens our classrooms beyond our walls and helps students develop communication, collaboration, critical thinking and other 21st century skills in a very engaging and cost effective manner.”
Soon after the success in one classroom, other Ardsley teachers jumped on the Skype wagon and took their classes on ‘field trips’. Alison Di Gregorio, who also teaches third grade at Concord Road Elementary School said, “My class has now interviewed a number of their favorite authors and enjoyed asking questions about the writing process, the author’s life and how a book gets published. “Using Skype and other technologies to connect my students to people and to cultures is exciting to both my students and me.” Di Gregorio is adding video exchange with other schools throughout the world to her classroom too. “I felt that certain parts of the world were not accessible for live calls with other classrooms because of time-zone differences so we started a video exchange program with a class in Russia that we connected with through Skype in the classroom.” Di Gregorio’s class may even start sharing community pictures on a dedicated Instagram site that is helping fascinate students by giving them the ability to compare their grocery stores, schools, theatres, and libraries to others around the world.
With the help of technology, these teachers are living proof of William Ward’s saying, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.”
Share in the experience
Amy Rosenstein recently took part in national television and radio interviews about her use of technology in the classroom. Enjoy one of her many interviews here:
Attend an Ardsley Third Grade Class Skype Session with Ingrid Law, Author of Savvy here: