Today my students and I had a Skype ‘incursion’ with a published author- Janelle Lee. This week I have begun to introduce the ‘Writer’s Notebook’ and I thought a great way to encourage students to write and use their notebook was to get some advice and suggestions from a ‘real life’ author. I wanted to create an authentic and real world purpose for my students. I wanted them to realise that keeping a Writer’s Notebook was not something I was making them do just for the fun of it. I needed them to understand that real life people use notebooks to keep their ideas, plans and inspiration and some of those ideas could become authentic, published pieces of work!
Before our call commenced we had a discussion on what we thought was acceptable ‘Skype Ettiquette’.
Here is what students came up with-
We then brainstormed some questions that students wanted to ask and compiled them ready for the call-
At 10am it came time for us to make our call. At first we had a few issues with sound, I had my computer plugged into our IWB and when talking Janelle could not hear us so I had to unplug the sound cord, then it worked. I’m not sure if there were some settings I need to check for next time so we can get sound in and out through the IWB. Once we had shound we were set to go. Students were engaged and eager to ask Janelle their questions. Throughout the chat different students asked the questions. As Janelle was answering a lot of discussion was occurring throughout the room and follow up questions were asked.
I decided to record the call for future reference, for absent students and for students to get inspiration from at a later date! To do this I used a free MP3 Skype Recorder. I ran out of time to test it before the call so was a little worried but everything worked smoothly.
At the end of the call we had a great discussion on why students should use their Writer’s Notebook. There was only fifteen minutes before our lunch break so I gave students a choice of things to finish off- Personalising their notebook was one of the options. I sent them off and went to work on our class blog with some student suggestions, I looked up and realised that all but two of my students were busy getting their Writer’s Notebook ready! I was so impressed. It was wonderful listening to discussions about things they could stick in and write about.
Thanks to Skype in my classroom (and Janelle of course) my students have an understanding of what it means to be a writer, why it is important to keep a notebook and that authentic, published pieces of work more often than not start from small ideas written in a simple notebook!
What have been your experiences of using Skype in the classroom?
How has this impacted on student learning?
For more information on the Writer’s Notebook take a look at-
Or get in touch with @jasminedwyer (A fabulous and inspiring educator on Twitter)