Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Month of Exploring Oceans: Week 1 Skype Classroom Visits

Inspired by Fabien Cousteau's record-breaking Mission 31 expedition, Skype Classroom is celebrating our oceans during the entire month of November. I am really excited to be participating in the Exploring Oceans program and kicked off the event with 9 classroom visits last week. This provides such an incredible experience for students around the world, whether they live near the coast or are completely landlocked. No matter where or what, we all need to know about our oceans and this is a great way to connect the world.

I started off visiting a third grade class in Texas, who were also Skyping with a class in South Africa. The technology is remarkable and really opens new doors for educators on a global scale. My next visit was with 5th graders in Connecticut followed up by 4th graders in New Hampshire. This class was a lot of fun because I was familiar with the area, being that my parents live about 90 minutes away.

A student asking my a question via Skype 

Lots of great sharky questions!

I started my next day of visits in North Carolina with a group of special needs students ranging in age from 16 to 22. I am really honored that I was asked to speak to such an incredible group and this was by far, one of my favorite lessons. Thanks Ms. Katie for reaching out! I always tell teachers they can email me additional questions if we run out of time or students think of new ones. Ms. Katie’s class asked if sharks speak English? I answered that I assume sharks speak, “shark,” whatever language they may be. We know they communicate, but there is not yet a full understanding of how this is done.

I then spoke with a group of 3rd graders from Indiana before heading back to North Carolina to finish of the day with another group of 3rd graders. My final day of visits included classes in North Carolina, Canada and Oklahoma. Blows my mind to think about my travels and how many more students I am able to reach through the Skype Classroom program. There is no way I could fly around and do all these visits in person, but through the computer we are connecting the world and creating an army of global citizens.

Speaking to Mrs. Davie's Students in Oklahoma

Hammerheads were pretty popular during the week with questions about their eyes, vision and head shape. Talking about hammerheads is always fun for me because great hammerheads are my favorite animal on the planet. I always get excited when students ask about them or want to see more images or videos. I try to include time for as many questions as possible because I think the interaction is the most important part of the lesson. I have a message about sharks I want to spread, but I also want to make sure students are feeling as though they are being heard and hopefully by answering their questions I am doing this.

Each visit is different and tailored to the age of the students and to their questions. Some classes just want to know more about sharks, while others want to know more about what I actually do. I love the diversity, as it keeps it excited and keeps me on my toes. Looking forward to nearly 30 visits during November, so stay tuned.

Thanks to Ms. Musa, Mrs. Jones, Mr. Ferguson, Mrs. Benevides, Ms. Katie, Ms. Jackson, Mrs. Weaver, Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Davies for such a JAWSOME week and for encouraging your classes to care about sharks and our oceans.

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