Some thoughts about our first school Skype meeting ever….

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4 different teachers ,in 4 different schools and countries with a total of more than 350 students , took part in our Skype meeting!

Skype gives students and teachers the ability to connect with the outside world without leaving the classroom, allowing them to meet face-to-face with the subjects of their learning or with students from other cultures. Simply connecting with another classroom provides an educational experience !

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Our Olympic sports project, on the…other side!

“This has to be one of the most powerful experiences for students as Skype enables students to connect, collaborate, and communicate with other students across the globe,” writes education expert Angela Maiers. “It creates an opportunity for students to learn from each other, to have authentic audiences for their work, and to meet others who can further their learning.”

 

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So happy to be able to see our pen pals abroad for the first time!

My most favourite moments during our Skype meetings with 4 partner schools  in Europe: 1.When we greeted our french pen pals in french, and they replied in…greek!! 2. When we sang to all our pen friends beautiful greek songs by the famous greek music composer Mikis Theodorakis – lyrics by George Seferis, one of the most important greek poets and a Nobel laureate! 3. Every time, we all danced or sang together to the same music!

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Pen friends , interviewed each other asking all different kinds of questions!!

4. When we saw our letters and projects, on the…other side, in our pen pals’  hands!! And we showed them theirs… 5. The fact that, we had the chance, in each new meeting ,to share a lesson with another class – about 100 students each time TOGETHER !! PRECIOUS! By the way, it is now that I realise, how important our new laptop has been for my school! A school , with practically no prior access to the internet for its students(!!) , until this school year, thanks to our school bazaar money!

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We sang traditional greek songs to our friends!

Another favourite moment during the two days Skype meeting with 4 different teachers ,in 4 different schools and countries with a total of more than 350 students involved (!!!) : when one of our pen pals in Poland, asked to talk to her friend in Greece but, she soon realised that…her pen pal had gone to Germany with her family to settle and find jobs due to the terrible greek financial crisis!! It was a sad moment for me because , I hate it when my students HAVE to live abroad, leaving friends and family behind, bacause of unemployment!….This country, deserves better!

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Marta, our partner teacher in Burgos , Spain.

 

So, what would be advantages of using skype in class with students:
– use English in real time
– culture sharing
– engagament in the learning process
– self confidence – enthusiasm
– introduction of webtools-not really in my school, where there is not a computers lab.
– understand timezones (correlation with other subjects)

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Our pen pals in Poland, dancing to our greek music!

Are there any disadvantages, well YES:
– difference in timezones
– problems with technology

But, if there is a will there is a way, right?

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Singing all together!

 

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The “fun factor”

the fun factor poster!“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou.

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Do we make our students (although this could be applied to anyone in our  life) feel:

  • Inspired?
  • Motivated?
  • Supported?
  • Welcome?
  • Empowered?
  • Valued?
  • Loved?
  • Responsible?
  • Positive?
  • Happy?
School Bazaar fun!

School Bazaar fun!

As teachers ,we are not selected or trained to be comedians or entertainers. However, we know that a positive climate for learning, and enjoyment, is correlated with retention of information and putting knowledge to work in everyday situations (including tests).

 “Humor builds a learning relationship through the joyful confluence of head and heart. Humor reduces stress and tension in the classroom, improves retention of information, and promotes creative understanding.

Drama activities are fun!

Drama activities are fun!

But most of all, it brings a sense of pleasure and appreciation and creates a common, positive emotional experience that the students share with each other and the teacher.” ( Ed Dunkelblau)

Beyond the fun factor, humor can be an effective way to engage students and activate learning.

I use humor to defuse tension.

To do gentle discipline.

Games fun!

Games fun!

 

I  also play lots of  language games to engage my students in fun activities!

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l engage students. We  need to use differintiated learning styles to appeal to the kinesthetic,visual, and audio learners.The lesson plan should involve at least three to four activities,and are moi (motivating and interesting). Tap into students talents, and challenge them to use critical thinking.Some students I found lack certain skills in using critical thinking, and it is good to help them thinking critically.Have students make things,dress for certain occasions, sing, play trivia games,create rap songs, and poems.Debates are great.

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One more thing to consider:  if we can’t show enthusiasm for what we are teaching how can we expect our students to be anything but bored.

Students love to have fun, if you ask a student what they like the most about school I would say that 90% of the time the response you will get is that they like recess  and PE. Why do you think that is the reason, it is because they have fun. So after observing that after many years of teaching I realized that I need to make learning fun so that my students will want to learn. If learning is not fun many of the students will shut down and not try.

I know when you think of fun you think of totally uncontrolled behaviour and that all you do is party. That is wrong, when I talk about making learning fun I am talking about using creative, fun activities when you teach a certain subject to grab the student’s attention.

Do not be afraid to try creative ideas to make learning fun. So many teachers do not know how to teach outside the box of the curriculum. Well, fellow teachers the curriculum is boring and I suggest that you use it as a guide but do not be married to it. Step outside the box and be creative and have fun teaching the subject area to your students. Students need to see an energetic teacher that loves what she does and knows how to make the subject exciting for her students.

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I do want to suggest however,  that when you do fun activities with your class you need to set boundaries for the students on behavior.

 Some more food for thought now… One more reason I like using games to teach language is the fact that , it is extremely important for us to realize, as teachers, that we would not be able to stay seated and remain quiet for an extended period of time.  Think how many times we are in conferences and we will often talk to our table mates because of boredom.  Isn’t that what many of our students are doing.  I am trying to figure out a way to get my students up and moving them around more in the classroom.  I know that this may make my classroom a bit more noisy but if it they are more engaged and therefore learning more it is going to be better for them and therefore better for me in the long run.
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 We should engage our  students.  That does not mean being  up and folding, cutting, and pasting.  That means do something that they relate to.  Show them how what they are learning applies to real life situations.  Consider where they come from and what their exposure level is.  Do not assume anything!  Bottom line….meet them where they are at and take them farther!

 Children learn best when they are doing hands-on-activities that are fun and interesting. They will remember the concept when it is shown in a creative way.

  I have found that having a positive relationship with my students, being interested in them as people, sharing a sense of humour and fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect means that we can ‘tough out’ some of the topics which are less interesting. I always strive to be enthusiastic and passionate about my subject, but I tell my classes that our priority is education not entertainment.
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Also, our classroom seating arrangements plays a role, since we would like everyone to be involved. Group work seemed more effective to me, once instructions and objectives are cleared,students’ tend to work and interact much better than individually,teachers must be constantly be engaged with the class. “Notify your face “when students are bored! Ask yourself, “Am I passionate about what I’m doing”?
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Our students, should be learning that learning is fun from a very early age…. Growing older, they should be learning that expanding one’s horizons is fun, that learning you were wrong about something is not so painful, and that taking an educational risk is worth doing. They should be learning that school is a good place to do these things. The children of today dread going back to school in September, dread exams, dread receiving their grades, and are generally fearful. No wonder school is stressful. But there is no reason children cannot have intellectual fun, cannot be excited by ideas, and cannot be challenged to acquire new knowledge. Natural learning is a basically enjoyable thing to do. Two-year-olds love to learn. Many adults love to learn. Only school-age children associate learning with fear of failure. We must get the fear of failure out of the school system. Cramming for an exam or trying to please a teacher ought not to be the goal of those seeking an education. If we fail to understand this in a profound way, there will be no helping our schools or our children.

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Fun means engagement, doing and learning what has meaning and purpose, and it means being challenged. Embracing this belief should have a profound effect on what and how we teach.