Posts Tagged ‘cooperative learning’

Using Skype in the Classroom

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Skype is a free download that enables users to make video calls using a computer. Skype can be used in the classroom as an easy way to expand classroom walls to create amazing learning experiences. Teachers can connect with experts, share ideas with colleagues, and provide opportunities for students to learn from others around the world.

Mystery Skype calls are one way to bring geography to life! Mr. Avery’s Classroom Blog describes how he used Skype to enhance his class. Students were given the task to determine the location of a class in another state by using clues. Students could only ask yes or no questions. When given a yes answer, they could then ask a follow up question. Students were assigned various roles in the activity, including inquirers, question keepers, Google mappers, runners, logical reasoners, and clue keepers. Each role played a part in helping solve the mystery location, and provided opportunities for students to practice reading maps, using online mapping tools, working together, and using problem-solving skills.

Image: renjith krishnan /


Cool Cat Teacher

At Cool Cat Teacher, Vicki Davis presents information about the many ways that she uses technology in the classroom. Her site includes technology tutorials, teaching tips, education-related news, and links to sites that can be used in the classroom. Davis sponsors “Flat Classroom Projects” that provide opportunities for global collaboration between classrooms at all grade levels. Davis explained that “The concept of a ‘flat classroom’ is based on the constructivist principle of a multi-modal learning environment that is student-centered and a level playing field for teacher to student and student to teacher interaction.” In the article, Digital Citizenship, Davis and Lindsay (2010) provide an overview of The Flat Classroom project, and explain the opportunities included in the project. Another article published by the pair, Flat Classrooms, describes the origin of the project.

Davis provided an excellent explanation of the ways that she used wikis for instruction. Students uploaded lesson summaries that contained vocabulary words and lesson concepts. They could access the content for at-home study. They also posted collaborative notes and created information wikis to explore new topics. She described a project in which students reached beyond the classroom walls to share important information about Internet safety. She also used the wiki for authentic assessments that replaced exams. For one assessment, students selected computer equipment for a family member and made recommendations regarding computer specifications to meet his needs. Another entry showcased a project in which students created virtual “study halls” for various school subjects. In her entry, Davis described the excitement generated by the project.

Davis’ suggestions for using wikis in the classroom could be used in a multitude of ways for almost any subject and grade level. For example, in a secondary business classroom, students might create sample business documents such as cover letters and resumes and post them to a class wiki. Students could also post notes related to the job application process and include information related to job interview skills. A class wiki would be an ideal place to post pictures of appropriate professional dress and to share other relevant information so that the entire class would have access to relevant resources.

Image: Cammeraydave |

e-Pals Global Learning Community

The e-Pals Global Learning Community is a safe social learning platform that can be used in K12 classrooms for communication and collaboration with classes around the world. The site allows teachers to link their classrooms with others for the purpose of engaging in collaborative educational projects. The project database can be searched by classroom profiles, country, by project, or by perusing teacher forums. All projects are linked with national standards.

The Digital Storytelling Classroom Project is featured on the e-Pals Projects for Collaboration page. The Project Overview explains that students will learn about the ancient practice of storytelling and then tell a story using modern technology tools. They will participate in an email exchange to discuss the process as they develop a story topic, write a story, create or find appropriate images, and share and reflect on their story. The project includes the following components: Essential Questions, Objectives, Culminating Activity, Project Elements, and National Standards.

This project would be appropriate for a variety of classes and could be adapted for any grade level. A look at the Digital Storytelling Teacher Forum reveals a range of classes from first grade through high school who would like to collaborate on this project for history, African American Studies, and language arts. In a middle school technology classroom, this might be implemented as an integrated project to include objectives from American History, language arts and technology. Students could interview World War II veterans and record their stories using technology tools. It might be interesting to partner with a classroom in Japan or Hawaii and compare stories from the perspectives of residents of those areas.

Image: Ken Cole | Agency:
The image above depicts part of the Second World War Memorial in Washington, DC

The Learning Network

The Learning Network, hosted by the New York Times, posts a new lesson plan each weekday. Lessons are aligned with McRel national standards. You can sign up to receive plans via email each day or choose to receive them on specified days. Students may respond to a daily student opinion question, answer “Test Yourself” questions that are related to math and language arts, or learn what happened “on this day” in history.

When I taught secondary business technology, current event presentations were frequently used in my classroom. Each week, I selected an article to share with students or had them find relevant articles to share with the class. The Learning Network presents an innovative lesson in which students work in teams to annotate news articles using technology tools such as Wikispaces, SoundCloud, Tout, or VoiceThread. Annotations may include definitions of terms, related articles, videos, biographical information for people mentioned in the article, maps, or graphics. The article suggests that in a classroom without computers, the activity could be modified so that students create a poster that displays the article with hand-written annotations. This activity is an excellent way to actively engage students in reading the news.

Image: Andy Newson /