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Hotchalk Global

news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

Calling It In, Part Two

Old World Map from Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL

 Last week, I blogged about how I was able to work from home one day in late September when my son had to stay home sick.  I used iChat to transmit my voice and my screen to the students in my computer lab across town for six straight classes of middle school technology.  It worked out really well.


Today, my middle school principal and I had arranged to go observe a former co-worker at the school where she’s been working for a few years now, to see what kinds of things are happening in her tech classes.  It’s a school very different from ours in many ways, but where they are doing a lot of really amazing stuff.


However, today was also the first day of a new project for my fifth graders.  Now, fortunately for me, my three fifth grade teacher colleagues are very confident with technology and have been amazing co-teachers with me when we have their students in my lab each Monday.  So I knew that if I hooked them up with some video resources and introduced the new project well enough, I wouldn’t even have to be there for this first day.  Plus, making a video of everything I wanted to say meant that all three classes would get exactly the same message.  And, if anyone missed anything, he or she could go and watch the exact same message as well.  I know, I know, go ON with my bad self.


So, first, I made a video of me talking about the new project and what it would involve.  We would be using PBworks, a wiki (collaborative work space), to gather our researched information and later create Google Earth placemarks.  In the video, I was able to talk about the policy they all had to have signed – which I also showed on-screen during the video – and the groups to which the students were assigned.  I then shared the group assignments so that the teachers could re-arrange the students’ seating to have group members sitting close to each other in the lab.  Kids also found our which explorer was their assigned topic.  Then I gave a link to the Common Craft “Wikis in Plain English” video.  (If you don’t know about Common Craft videos, get thee to YouTube immediately!)


When I got back to my school this afternoon, I was able to go to our school library, check out a bunch of books on explorers to the various teachers who needed them for their students, and deliver those right to the classrooms.  The kids I made eye contact with in those brief encounters seemed really happy to see the real me, but I could tell that they had also related well to virtual me earlier in the day.  I am really looking forward to next Monday when the kids come to class.  I hope they will have taken some time to learn a bit about their explorers so we can dive right in.

Image source:

Creative Commons, Flickr user Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the BPL



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