Monday, December 8, 2014

Inspiring Students with Skype: An Example

Lexie Weitzel is inspiring Contemporary Issues students to change their world.

This past Friday, her classes spoke (via Skype) with J.R. Biersmith, the Executive Director of Men in the Arena, a film in production about the Somali national soccer team.  As J.R. spoke about life in Somalia, the challenges (and dangers) of filming, and shared the stories of the young men on the soccer team, the dialogue between students and director became more empathetic, perceptive, and passionate.  Mrs. Weitzel's students made an emotional and personal connection with J.R.'s story.

One fifty-minute class period.  A lesson that goes beyond the walls of the classroom.  This is the beauty and power of Skype as a learning tool.

J.R. Biersmith, Executive Director of the film Men in the Arena, Skypes with Mrs. Weitzel's Contemporary Issues students. 

This unique Skype session will serve as inspiration for an upcoming project on Africa.  In teams, students will develop and publish social media and multimedia campaigns to raise awareness for worthwhile charities who are working to resolve problems such as malnutrition and water purification.  Projects will be submitted to Project for Awesome, a program aimed at raising awareness and funding for charities.

Prior to the Skype session, students read recent articles about Somalia, watched a trailer for the movie and an interview with the director, and prepared questions for the Skype session which were pre-approved by Mrs. Weitzel.  In addition, Mrs. Weitzel worked with technology support staff to optimize the audio and video quality and tested the connection with the film's director.

Interested in using Skype?  Here's what you need:

1) a Skype account

2) an internet connection, speakers, and microphone

3) a guest speaker and their Skype address

4) a framework for students to prepare questions for the guest speaker

Contact Doug Barton or Colin Davitt if you would like help setting up your own Skype lesson!

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