Skype has been a fun, easy way for my students to say hello, have conversations about what we are learning, ask questions, listen to a story, connect and learn new things. Earlier this year a friend, Cathy, I met in an online course thanks to the #plpnetwork that we were both participating in last spring offered to be a guest speaker for my students. I discovered that she was very interested in and had a lot of knowledge about the Monarch Butterfly. So this Fall when I was exploring this unique animal I was able to use Skype as a way to connect my students with an expert and ask her questions about the life of a Monarch. My students had great questions and were very comfortable using this synchronous tool because we have had many opportunities earlier with different parents who were willing to call us and say hello and ask us about our learning. Through this type of modeling and explicit exploration of this tool my students were able to experience what it might be like as well as explore what online etiquette is and how this tool can help support our learning, learning as digital citizens.
Last week another friend and colleague, Brianna Laue, I met at Vermont Fest 2 years ago used Skype to have a few of her students read a couple of wonderful stories aloud to us! This type of experience gave my students a chance to enjoy a read aloud, but also make connections and other noticings about the story and some of the strategies that the readers were using. Some of the strategies that my students noticed were: *read nicely, good readers, read with expression and they showed us pictures.* This is the beginning of reader’s workshop for my students. They had an opportunity to be a part of a read aloud where other students were teaching us and through their modeling I can now build on this experience to further my students understanding.
6 weeks into Kindergarten and all is grand! I am very grateful for the connections I have made over the years. My connections are an important part of my PLN. I continue to be inspired and supported through my connections. They challenge my thinking and broaden my perspective.