We had the wonderful opportunity this week to have the fantabulous author/musician come to our kindergarten classes. Now that took a little doing because she was in Ohio and we are in Nevada.
First, a word about Debbie....do you know her? She writes wonderful songs, songs that are fun...songs that are sweet...songs that teach. We have been singing her Polywog song for weeks. Debbie then makes quilts to illustrate her songs and those quilts become her books. You can find her songs and books here on her blog, Rainbows Within Reach
But how did we get her to come and visit 100 Kindergarten students without having to buy an airplane ticket? SKYPE!
Back in the day I thought I was pretty tech savy but somewhere along the way technology took a great leap forward and left me behind. I have never skyped before, so I was pretty nervous. We don't have a full time tech person, so I was also pretty much on my own. I did have a couple of things going for me...a son that is good with computers, and helpful teacher friends.
What did I need for a successful visit? First you need a Skype account. It's free it's easy, your school might already have one, but your own personal account works too. (here is where my computer knowledgeable son came in handy).
Then you need a way to be seen and heard. At my school we have smartboards in most every classroom. A way to see Debbie. Check. Now...how will she see us?? We don't have any webcams.....but we do have ipads. There you go, that will do. Debbie can see us. Check. Wait...not so quick or easy. There is no one here to help me figure out how to make what is on my ipad show up on the smartboard. I have the adaptor cord, but where to connect it? That's where teacher friends come in. We played with hooking it up several ways on several computers, until we finally got smart and started looking at the computer that was in the room where we would be skyping. When we finally got it to work...we said to each other, "that was easy we should have figured it out right away". Next time it will be easy.
Now, how do we position the ipad so Debbie can see us, and how can we hear her with just little ipad speakers? More teacher friends. I borrowed an iHome for the speakers (easy to get speakers that plug right into the ipad). Rigging the ipad can be trickier. We used an easle, some books, rubberbands, and duck tape. Buying a webcam would be easier...but you do what you need to in order to make it work. It didn't look pretty, but it worked!
|Students waving to themselves while they wait for everyone else.|
She started by singing the Polywog song because my class had been singing that for weeks. Then we continued singing and signing. Each new book was presented as a surprise and the students were so engaged and couldn't wait to see what was next. They danced, they sang, they made funny faces, they learned some sign language. If you have any questions about students not connecting with Debbie or not participating because she is not in the room, lay those questions aside. For those 40 minutes the kids did not even think about the fact she was on a "TV". As far as they were concerned she was right there with them.
You too can bring the world into your classroom. Check out some other classrooms where Debbie has been to visit. Here is Kindergarten Lifestyle and Time 4 Kindergarten. To see a little video head over to Maggie's Kinder Korner. You could also bring Debbie Clement into your classroom (Check it out here). Think about it.....You can bring other friends, scientists, and authors into your room. The possibilities are endless.