Thursday, October 24, 2013

School is Back in Session: Skype Classroom Visits

I love spending time in the classroom speaking with kids about sharks, but work over the past few months has really limited my ability to do so. My audience is slightly limited because I live on a tiny island, but Skype Classroom has really changed the way the world learns and has opened a lot more doors for me. (Classroom doors that is) I remember having guest speakers as a child growing up in Maine, but it didn’t happen very often and they were always local. I am blown away at the ability to broaden horizons and expand a child’s sense of the world, through a small window on the computer.

I have done classroom sessions before via Skype, as well as interviews for various shark projects, but last week I did my first visit organized through the Skype Classroom program. I was nervous and excited as I waited to connect with Mr. Grabowski’s 6th grade class, located in Guelph, Ontario.

I spent forty minutes speaking about sharks, shark diving and underwater video. The kids had really great questions about why sharks are important and what they can do to help. The time flew by and I closed the connection feeling a renewed sense of inspiration. The world of shark conservation is full of ups and downs and these classroom visits are the peaks that renew my resolve and challenge me to do more.

I did two more visits this week, one with second graders from Connecticut and one with an 8-year-old home school student in Michigan. I wanted to do a few to start and see how the logistics would be before I dove in completely. I think the experience is amazing and I have seven visits booked next week. It really opens the doors for students who do not have access to the ocean or maybe have never even seen the ocean. We all need the ocean and every child needs to know how important our oceans are and how important sharks are. It is also essential that every child realize he or she has a voice and that they can make a difference. Think global, but act local. We need to create the next generation of global citizens by initiating a conversation about things every person can do each day or each week to make a change.

I highly recommend this program to teachers and parents alike. You can bring the world to your classroom or to your children and make connections that cannot be found in any textbook.