Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"Teaching the iGeneration" Book Study - VoiceThread and Skype in Education

I'm participating in a book study with my colleagues at Wolfe School.  The book we're studying is "Teaching the iGeneration:  5 Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills With Web 2.0 Tools", written by William M. Ferriter and Adam Garry. The book has been a great anchor for our  discussions and has proven to be a treasure chest of resources.
Look inside Teaching the iGeneration: 5 Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills With Web 2.0 Tools!
This week, I'm co-leading a discussion with MaryJo Breckenridge, the principal of our school, about "Studying Challenging Topics Together", the focus of Chapter 4 of the book.  VoiceThread was featured in the chapter as a tool to support digital conversations about educational topics and content, and has been successful in enhancing Socratic circles in language arts and social studies classrooms. MaryJo created a VoiceThread for our group so we can share our comments and reflections about what we've learned from the chapter.

So what is a VoiceThread?
"A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways, using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio files, or video (via webcam)."  VoiceThreads can be integrated into Moodle, a learning management system, as well as blogs and websites.

Below is a voice thread from a conversation about Educating the iGeneration that took place during August 26-28 in 2010:

Another topic covered in Chapter 4 advantages of using video conferencing tools, such as Skype, to support a range of learning and communication activities for students.  To support the use of Skype by educators, Skype created a website,  Skype in the Classroom.  

According to the website, Skype in the Classroom is "a free global community that invites teachers to collaborate on classroom projects where they might use Skype, and share skills and inspiration around specific teaching needs."   Below is my Skype in the Classroom page:

I've participate in a few book studies in my area that used Skype to include authors in the discussion. With a good connection and a large high-resolution display, it is the next best thing to having the author in the room!

There are a growing number of resources for educators interested in using Skype in the classroom. Here are a few:
Skype in Schools wiki
Skype in the Classroom Resources
Blog post: Skype Other Classrooms (Sue Waters)
Blog post: The Best Ways To Find Other Classes for Joint Online Projects (Larry Ferlazzo)
Skype In the Classroom: An International Social Network for Teachers  (Robin Wauters, TechCrunch)

The Cool Cat Teacher blog has a variety of excellent posts that relate to the use of technology in the classroom:
Using Skype in the Classroom (or just learning how to use it!)  -from 2006, but still good.
The Five Phases of Flattening a Classroom

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