This morning, my students connected with two classes from Elm Park School in Pakuranga Heights, New Zealand. I met the two teachers of these classes, Sara Melville and Anna Graham, last month at ULearn. We instantly hit it off 🙂
Through our tweets and emails since the conference, we thought it would be great for our students to connect to discuss the similarities and differences between students and schools in Australia and New Zealand. We decided on a time that suited all of us, due timetable commitments and the “minor” time difference, and spoke to our classes about preparing for the Skype session.
My students were so excited. They formed small groups and developed the following list of questions to ask their peers from “over the ditch”.
- How long does your school day go for?
- What time do you start school and finish school?
- How long does your recess and lunch go for?
- What lessons do you do?
- What is your favourite thing about your school?
- How many students are in your class?
- How old are you?
- What is your learning tool?
- Do you all have iPads?
- As a class have you used Skype before?
- Do you have a canteen?
- What colour is your uniform?
- Do you have to wear hats?
- Do you have a class mascot?
- Do you have a class pet?
- Does your school have any events?
- How big is your school?
- Do you have separate classrooms?
- Do you have portables?
- Do you go on excursions?
- Do you go on camps?
- Have any of you been to Australia?
- What’s the weather like in New Zealand?
- What do you do at home for fun?
- What games do you play?
- Do you play Minecraft?
In the beginning, we experienced some technical difficulties. I tried to connect through my laptop, but couldn’t log on. I tried through the Skype app on my iPad. Again, no success. Obviously I was having problems connecting through my school’s network. So, my class ended up chatting via the Skype app on my iPhone. Third time lucky, I guess 🙂
Our chat session lasted 45 minutes. Students on both sides of the screen were quite shy to speak at first, but after a while, they became more comfortable. Having questions as prompts really did help to keep the conversation flowing. My students were very keen to explain how they use Minecraft for learning and creativity. Sara and Anna have asked my students to provide them with more information about this so they can share the educational gains for using Minecraft, through the eyes (and mouths) of students, with their Principal 🙂 How exciting!
Overall, the Skype session today was a huge success! The students loved the experience and are keen to connect with their new friends again towards the end of the year 🙂