How the Skype-a-Thon brought a class’ curriculum to life

Today’s post is brought to you by Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts and Skype Master Teacher Henry Penfold. Henry is a Second Grade teacher in the UK and here he describes his students’ experience during the recent Skype-a-Thon, and how Skype in the Classroom activities can be connected to the curriculum.

Preparing my class for the Skype-a-Thon

The Skype-a-Thon is a fantastic opportunity to connect with different classes around the globe and to remove the barriers of the classroom. Leading up to the Skype-a-Thon, my class and I had used Skype as part of a Skype collaboration project I set up on the Microsoft Educator Community. That project, Connect with the World, helped children learn about the seven continents and the five oceans. It inspired them and highlighted the potential Skype could unlock for our class. Before arranging the Skype calls for the Skype-a-Thon, I decided what my key learning aims were going to be and which subject areas I wanted to cover:

  • Understanding materials – Science
  • Learning about cricket and being a cricket player – PE
  • Understanding characters’ feelings in a text – English
  • Understanding time – Maths

Our Skype-a-Thon calls and their connection to our curriculum

Understanding materials – To fulfil my first aim, we had a Skype call with a Minecraft teacher, Stephen Reid. Described as the “wow” call, the children were engrossed and inspired by the different end-products created on Minecraft. Stephen talked to the class about how different types of sand was used to make Egyptian pyramids. He also talked about a recycling center that he had created as part of a class project. It was a fantastic way for children to see how Minecraft can be used in the classroom. Throughout the Skype session our guest speaker tested their knowledge of the materials we had focused on during our recent lessons. It was a great way for children to share how much they had learnt. (Connect with a Minecraft Mentor and learn more about Minecraft in Education.)

Minecraft

Learning about cricket – Our second call was with the Hampshire Cricket Captain who inspired children by describing different sports and helped them understand that they are a key part of the PE curriculum. During this call, children asked questions to find out more about playing cricket. The Cricket Captain also shared with the class how he was first inspired to play cricket and who the important influences in his life were. He explained how he was stimulated to play cricket and be the best he could. Talking about these skills helped children understand how targets can be achieved. (Connect your classroom with one of our Guest Speakers. Your students can learn about sports and physical activities from the experts.)

Understanding characters’ feelings in a text – Our third call of the day was to my old primary school teacher. During this session, the class were read a story. It was a great opportunity for them to hear a different person share their love of reading. The story captured the children’s imagination and took them on a journey of a human discovering a creature coming to planet Earth. The children were trying to understand and work out how each of the characters would be feeling during the story. This story provided the hook into our new topic of English. (Why not invite one of the Skype in the Classroom authors to inspire your students?)

Understanding time – Finally, we got on a Skype call with the Kahoot team. Leading up to this call we had been learning about time and being able to tell the time. The opportunity arose to use Kahoot to test how much my students knew but also have more challengers on the game. To be greeted by 20 people from the Kahoot team was amazing. It was great for my students to see who had designed the quiz app we play in class. It also brought about a competitive edge in the children who tried to beat as many people from the Kahoot team as they could. The noise in the classroom during this call was electric. All children were engrossed and striving to achieve the best score possible. For me, I was able to assess how much they had understood about reading the time, without them even realizing. (Did you know that you can invite members of the Kahoot team as guest speakers over Skype?)

The Skype-a-Thon experience brought life to our curriculum

We had great time learning about a range of different subjects and connecting with a variety of people during the Skype-a-Thon. The children were buzzing at the end of the day wanting more and keen to find out more. This brought life to our curriculum and gave the children fantastic memories. I look forward to more Skype journeys as we continue throughout the year with my class.

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Watch the video below to see what went on behind the scenes during the Skype-a-Thon.

Teachers: To learn more about the Skype-a-Thon, check out the links below:

Parents: Why not ask your school to get involved with Skype in the Classroom so your kids can experience the world live from their classrooms?