Introducing video conferencing software as a way of connecting my class and extending our reach is my one best thing. FaceTime calls are the back bone to the Connecting Classes Across Continents project that I collaborate on with a group of early learning Apple Distinguished Educators. We use the software to share learning and exchange knowledge between our classes.
I’ve been using FaceTime beyond this project though. Video conferencing can bring many more experts in to our classrooms. Those days when the fire engine visits schools and the police officers join us for question and answer are so valuable. There are many more experts that we can learn from who aren’t in our local area though. That’s where softwares like FaceTime extend our reach for knowledge exchange.
Call the Doctor
In October we called Dr. Ben and Dr. Myriam who work at our local hospital. They take 15 minutes out of their day to answer our questions about bones, x-rays and health.
For our writing that week we were labelling the body and authoring a non-fiction book based on a text we had been reading.
The call gave us ideas for our writing and a real experience that gives it purpose.
Animals are a popular topic but when you have a child with a very keen interest in them, it’s great to give them a spotlight to share their knowledge. On International Dot Day I found out he wanted to make his mark on the world by filming nature documentaries. In our Brown Bear, Brown Bear book study the following week I arranged a FaceTime call with Jason Milner in Australia.
Jason presented a live documentary on Australian animals. All of the class learned about red-bellied black snakes, spiders and of course kangaroos. This inspired writing, and I saw children use the knowledge from the call in their labelling and story writing.
This is another great opportunity to make good use of video conferencing. Nothing beats speaking to the author of the book you are reading as a class. We have made several calls to different authors for quick chats about their work and to share our responses to their books.
Video calls extend the reach of your class. They are easy to plan through emails or tweets and have a real impact on knowledge and writing.