Picture this: A
group of adorable kindergarteners is sitting quietly on the floor. They were
just told that they are going to "meet" an author today through the computer.
One minute later, the computer makes a ringing sound, and the little ones go
crazy! After they calm down, the teacher answers the call and introduces the
author, who greets the class with a "Hi" and a wave. Arms and bodies jump up
everywhere, loud "Hi's!" erupt, and one little kindergartener right in front of
the camera sticks out his tongue.
this really happening?
happens. It has happened to me — more than once, in fact.
invite guests into your library or classroom for videoconferencing, you have to
be prepared for anything. The connection might be bad, the guest might be late,
the sound might not work or your class might go crazy, just like the scene I
it's a good idea to prepare your students and teachers for connecting with
others online before you bring
a guest into your classroom or library. Here
are a few ways to do that:
Do a trial run. When we started using
Skype at my school, I would call into the classroom from my library office a few
times first. That allowed me to demonstrate Skype and address behaviors as they
happened naturally during our connection.
Establish guidelines. Talk about being
good hosts, active listeners and respectful to your
Location is everything. Think about
where the students should sit and where the computer and camera will be so
that everyone — including the guest — can see each
Plan logistics. Students love to ask
questions. If you have a small group and plenty of time, it is fine for students
to raise their hands and take turns. However, if your group is large, it works
better to have a select group of students ask predetermined questions. When we
Skyped with Mercer Mayer, each
classroom came up with a question together and ten designated a student to ask
the question. This worked well, and all the students felt like they had a voice.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try
again. When things do not go as planned, reteach the expected behavior by
demonstrating what is expected. We had a really nutty Skype session with our
kindergarteners last year, so the next day our principal visited the classroom
through Skype and in person to reteach the behaviors we hoped for during our
connections. When they came to the library later that week, we also retaught and
supported the expected behaviors.
Get all hands on deck. Let the other
adults in the room know they are also responsible for being attentive and
helpful. It is a good idea to have everyone spread out among the students to
help with classroom management.
Lastly, have fun. Remember that crazy
does happen, just like in any classroom or library. Students are learning, and
so are we. Together we can make this a wonderful experience for everyone.