Skype an Expert

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

The last post I wrote discussed to the K12 Online Keynote shared by Dean Shareski called “Sharing: The Moral Imperative“. I believe in today’s world of the global economy that my own children should reap the benefit of a global education. Dean’s presentation inspired me to recruit some people in my school district to share what they’re doing in the classroom. I know, I know…who the heck am I to have guest bloggers; but they are doing some great things in the classrooms with kids, and I just can’t be everywhere at once to witness everything. It is my intention to make this a regular part of my blog, and I want to thank Mrs. Gallagher VERY MUCH for being my first guest blogger and for her willingness to share! It is my hope that other students around the globe will benefit from her sharing and willingness to contribute to a global education.

Mrs. Gallagher is an elementary technology integrator in the West Shore School District. She works with teachers and students every day in the classroom to assist them with technology lessons and ways to deliver content using technology. Here is her post:

Mrs. Deb Smith, 4th grade classroom teacher at Red Mill Elementary School in Etters, PA and a self professed science and nature nut, wants her students to have a deeper appreciation for that which is near and dear to her. That’s why she loves teaching science and taking her topics to the next level. When her students were recently studying wetlands she utilized a website
<< >> where her students could go on a virtual field trip and dip their nets into 4 different types of habitats in a watershed and record the different types of critters that were found. Even though her students didn’t physically visit a marsh, swamp, creek or river they were very interested in learning more.

She contacted her building Instructional Integration Advisor (aka Computer Teacher), to see if I could arrange for her class to have a video chat with a wetlands expert. I in turn contacted three different organizations (DCNR, SUNY-ESF, and CBF) to see if I could find someone interested in hosting our 4th graders in a questions and answer session. After a few emails, ultimately the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was the organization that was able to make this happen. Mr. Harry Campbell, Senior Scientist with the CBF Harrisburg Office, hosted an afternoon Q&A Session with 2 classes of 4th grade students. Prior to the video chat through SKYPE, the students wrote down a question or two to ask the “expert”.

When the big day came, and after the initial introductions and formalities, the students took turns coming to the front of the room, sitting in front of the webcam, and asking Mr. Campbell their questions. Great questions were asked, such as:

  • How do wetlands develop?
  • Why do we see so much algae in the Susquehanna River?
  • How did the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect the Chesapeake Bay?
  • What kind of education do you need to become a wetland expert?

The students were very polite and respectful to our “wetlands expert” and listened carefully to his responses. The summary writing that the students created the next day, it was very obvious that they got a lot out of the Skyping with the wetland expert! Student, Meredith W. wrote “The important thing about wetlands is we should keep them clean. If we do not keep them clean and use fertilizer, the fertilizer can wash down to the wetlands.”

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3 responses to “Skype an Expert

  1. Great post on how to use Skype in the classroom to aid student learning. I bet this is an activity the students won’t forget. That is powerful stuff!

  2. Thanks, Mr. Chamberlain. It was a great opportunity for them to hear from real field experts in addition to their teacher. Mrs. Gallagher does a great job! Thanks for the comment.

  3. We used skype today to talk to some youth who are changing the world …some from as far as Lebanon

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