I recently had the chance to observe a Skype call between Ms. Greta and Ms. Paula’s nursery school class with a preschool class in Andover, Kansas. The connection between the classes was made after Paula made a request on Twitter for classes interested in connecting via Skype. From there, the two teachers discussed the logistics for the actual discussion.
Since my experience in the classroom has been with intermediate grade levels, I was intrigued to see what type of discussion and skills would be developed from this call. I was astounded at how easy it was to witness the 21st century and social skills that were being practiced at such a young age. There was a permanent smile on my face and the call that lasted approximately 15 minutes was easily the highlight of my week. The skills these students developed during the call:
1. Practicing English with Native speakers: The nursery ESL students had the opportunity to listen and talk with native English speakers. It was a genuine and purposeful audience for them to practice their language skills with.
2. Building Communication Skills: The teachers and students modeled speaking clearly while asking questions as well as listening attentively for answers before moving on. Taking turns was witnessed and natural conversations began to grow from the responses that were given.
3. Making Global Connections and Acknowledging Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences: Questions and answers were provided that allowed the students to make connections between the two cultures while also being made aware of some differences as well. Before the call began, students reviewed the continents on a map and pinpointed the locations of each caller- providing them with some background knowledge.
4. Using Technology as a Tool for Learning: Students were exposed to the use of a tool for learning about another culture and group of students. A reflection took place after the call that focused not on the tech tool, but on the learning that occurred.
After this first call, Ms. Greta and Ms. Paula have the intention to continue with Skype calls with students from other areas to further the development of their students’ skills. It will be exciting to see where these global connections and experiences lead their students’ learning.