With the budget crunch these days it is getting harder and harder to supply students with “wordly experiences”. Field trips and guest speakers/presentations are becoming more and more rare with each passing year. It is an expense that too often gets cut when you feel the budget pinch. These types of real-world applications are vital to the development of our students. We need to find other alternatives for our students so they can gain exposure to things outside of their neighborhoods.
If we cannot take our students out to the world, we need to bring the world to our students. Technology can play a major role in accomplishing this task. Here are a few ways you can make this happen in your classrooms.
Webcasts are a wonderful way to bring the world to your students. There are opportunities available for you constantly through the web. Scholastic just did a webcast with Taylor Swift last week about importance of reading. It was a live feed and she answered a few questions from classes that tuned in to watch. You can still access the webcast and enjoy it with your students by clicking here. Scholastic has some good webcasts going on throughout the year. It is always a good idea to check in once in a while to see what they are up to.
There are many organizations that offer webcasts from time to time. The challenge can be finding them! If you are looking for Science opportunities I ran across this Exploratorium site recently. You can search by general science topic or search for specific keywords. Museums are also a great provider of webcasts. Some come with a price and some are free. Get to searching and find a session that works for you.
Skype for Education
Skype is another great tool you can incorporate into your classroom. All you need is internet access and a webcam to start making video connections with people all over the world. Simply create a Skype for Education account (FREE) and start searching for people/classes to connect with. I did a quick search for authors and came across a post that listed authors that connect with classes. Many will do it for free. You can also connect with other classes around the world to do/share projects. You are limited only by your imagination here.
If your campus/district has video conferencing equipment available, consider connecting this way. Our district has connected to places ranging from zoos and the Baseball Hall of Fame to open heart surgery. Once again, some will be free and some are paid. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)is a great place to search for video conferencing opportunities. CAPSpace, Collaborations Around the Planet, is another great resource for you. This site allows you to post a video conferencing idea of your own. The goal is to connect with another class somewhere around the world and collaborate on a project.
We have a lot of success with classrooms connecting with other classes within our own district. Many 1st and 2nd grade classes are participating in a Monster Exchange VC activity right now. Each class creates/draws a monster. They then write down directions as to how to draw it, being as precise as they can. The directions are shared with another class in the district via email. The other class follows the directions to try to create an identical monster. They then meet via video conferencing and take a look to see how close the second class’ monster is to the original. It is a great project to enhance the students’ writing processes. They get a real-life experience in following someone else’ directions. It makes them more aware of how precise and detailed they need to be when they are writing. We have different projects like this going on throughout the school year. It is always fun and exciting to connect/share with another group of students.
Don’t let budgets get in the way of the real-world experiences your students so desperately need. Use technology to help fill those needs.