A holiday card exchange through Skype in the Classroom

Kyle Calderwood is an Technology Coordinator in Tuckerton Elementary School in New Jersey, USA. He is also a Microsoft Educator Expert and a Skype Master Teacher, and today he shares with us his holiday Skype Collaboration project: a holiday card exchange over Skype.

Skype Collaborations are an activity type in the Microsoft Educator Community designed for teachers to connect with other classrooms across the world to work on a specific project or task together.

The 2016 holiday card exchange: how it all started

Late last year, I had the idea of having our school do a holiday card exchange via Skype with other classes around the world. Starting in December proved challenging to get cards to be created and arrive in time, so this year I posted a Skype Collaboration in October. I was blown away by the response: I had almost 100 classes register to participate from all over the world!

Holiday card exchange
Cards received by Kyle Calderwood’s class
The development of a successful Skype Collaboration

Since I had more time to develop the project this year, I included a more rounded experience for all. What started as a project just for our students ended up having such an overwhelming response after posting it as a Skype Collaboration that I opened it up to other schools in the US to join in as well.

I created a Microsoft form and embedded it in my lesson. This form allowed me to pair up classes in similar grades (one from the US and the partner from a non-US school). Classes were tasked with creating physical holiday cards and sending them to their partner school. Once the classes received the cards, they would have a Skype call with their partner to discuss what holiday traditions they have in their respective countries. I had no idea what to expect from this project but thought it worthwhile for our students to learn about how the rest of the world celebrates the end of year holidays.

The outcome

I am delighted that the students not only learned about holiday traditions but some have formed long-term partnerships through this Skype Collaboration. This project is a true testament to how Skype in the Classroom connects classes around the world and helps students learn from each other while having fun. Check out the #SkypeTraditions hashtag on Twitter to see more exchanges with students!

Holiday card exchange
Cards received by Ewa Lewandowska’s class in Poland
What students and fellow teachers thought of our Skype holiday card exchange

“I liked the Skype call because they had different voices than us. It was nice to get to know the kids in England.” – Gretchen

“I liked talking to people in a different part of the world.” – Cruz

“I like that they called ornaments “baubles” and they had different words for decorations than we do.” – Aiden

“I learned that they call decorations different things than we do, and I realized their school is a different kind of school than mine.” – Cambria

“I was surprised they have Christmas on the 7th of January” – Zach

“I didn’t know that they put a coin in their bread at Christmas” – Kaimyn

“It was a great experience to compare and contrast celebrations. The students were so excited to ask and answer questions to find out what was the same and what was different. They learned a lot about the countries we connected to as well as the culture and subtle differences in the English language.” – Mrs. Pine

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Teachers: New to Skype in the Classroom? Check out the Skype activities that will inspire your students. You can also take the Introduction to Skype in the Classroom course to learn all about Skype in the Classroom and get 500 points towards your Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) badge.

Also, check out the Skype Collaborations other teachers created or start your own to connect your classroom to the world!

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?