"Creativity is contagious, pass it on." ~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We Visited the Ocean today

I was having a conversation with one of our wonderful first grade teachers named Charis High a couple of weeks ago.  During our conversation, Mrs. High mentioned that her students would be studying Ocean habitats soon and that it would "cool"  to Skype with someone that lived near an ocean.  If I had had that conversation five years ago, I wouldn't have been able to help at all.  But thanks to my wonderful PLN on Twitter, I remembered that one of my members, Holly Clark, lives in California.  She had responded to a tweet I sent out earlier this year asking for PLN members to Skype in and explain to my second graders how they use Skype in their jobs.

Mrs. High contacted Ms. Clark, the gears started turning and before you knew it, we had planned to video chat with Ms. Clark via FaceTime while she stood on the beach in California!

Mrs. High and her students prepared for our virtual visit by brainstorming questions that they would like to ask Ms. Clark.  The students were so excited when Mrs. High unveiled the news to them. Especially when they realized that our call would take place on the 100th day of school!   A majority of the students in Mrs. High's class had never been to the ocean, so this was going to be a great experience for them.

We made the call this morning and it was AWESOME!  As soon as Ms. Clark answered her phone a student exclaimed, "I can hear the ocean!"  I will have to admit, I have only been to the ocean once and the first time I heard it, I was enthralled!  Think of all the students that heard the ocean for the first time while sitting in their classroom in Nebraska.  Ms. Clark did a wonderful job teaching and showing us several different things about the ocean as she stood along the Pacific Coast Highway answering our questions.

We had an authentic learning activity today utilizing a relatively simple technology tool.  Whether you use Skype, a Google Hangout our FaceTime you can literally take your class anywhere in the world.  It's not rocket science.  We didn't have a major project planned, we weren't using a cart of laptops or iPads, we simply tied what the students were doing in Science and made it "come to life."  Sure we could have just looked in their textbook.  We could have pulled up a video on YouTube or watched a documentary on oceans.  Instead we chose to let the students experience firsthand what it was like to be standing next to the Pacific Ocean.  Thank you Mrs. High and Ms. Clark for providing such a wonderful opportunity for our students!

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