I had never jumped on the idea of Skype calls. I don't know why. When my parents come to visit I let the kids ask questions and they (both students and my parents) love it! The students are engaged, making connections, and thinking deeply. Why I never realized how simply I could add the same excitement I have no idea.
Well, I have a bit of an idea. First of all, Skype is technically not allowed on campus. I also figured we could do the research together and that I could help them connect the dots
It's true. I can help them make those connections, but I am doing that all the time. How invigorating for my students to see a fresh face - a different perspective. Plus, there is the expert factor. I can research, but that does not make me an expert.
Yesterday morning we Skyped with an expert. Major Anderson flies F16s. The impetus was our science variable unit. When we made 'flippers' we also read about how catapults are used in the "real world". One example was planes taking off from an aircraft carrier. I made a connection myself thinking of my childhood friend being a pilot and wondered if he would talk with us.
I received permission to put Skype on my school machine and to have the call. We spent a little bit of time building our background knowledge and we created a Google Doc with our wonderings. We also talked about the logistics of the call: where to stand, how to address him, remember to say 'thank you', and how to know when it would be your turn to ask a question.
The call time came and we spent 30 minutes engrossed in learning - watts to km, size and speed of the F16, comparison of planes, and more. After we said 'good-bye' we took five minutes to write down what we were still wondering about. Some of the wonders will be simple searches and some we will email to Major Anderson (who volunteered to answer any further questions). We then shared, as table groups, the things that had really stuck with us, what we thought was cool. The room was quite a buzz.