Farmington Falcons explore different corners of the world through Skype

This week, Farmington Elementary School sent its students out all across the world—in a virtual way.

Skype-a-thon, a national and annual event, went live at Farmington Elementary School November 29th-30th. The event, sponsored by Microsoft Educator’s Community, offered teachers easy, canned lesson opportunities with Skype. The event cleverly gave teachers the choice between activities like Mystery Skype, Virtual Field Trips, and “Find a Guest Speaker”.

Advertised at Farmington by Curriculum Technology Trainer Ashley Smith, over a dozen teachers participated in the event, bringing experiences afar right into the classroom. According to Smith, some classes took virtual field trips to Mt. Ranier, Intrepid Air and Space Museum, and the World War II Museum while others had more pointed chats about “amazing alligators” or the USS Missouri.

“Microsoft Educator’s Community have really made the process easy,” says Smith. “It’s not at all difficult or complicated to participate. All a teacher needs is a username to log into Skype”. The Skype-a-Thon event does the rest with thousands of virtual field trips to choose from and global guest speakers that are ready to schedule sessions with classrooms. “There’s a bit of planning involved—like thinking about time zones and providing your students with background knowledge, but nothing very drastic,” explains Smith. She goes on to mention that preparing the children to speak with a guest or a museum docent by helping them prepare meaningful questions would be helpful just as it would for a face-to-face interaction. “They will certainly get more out of the experience,” she adds.

The idea that the classroom walls are disappearing may be a new and futuristic idea, but one that the teachers at Farmington are excited about. The librarian, Jennifer Mock, completed a Skype lesson with every class in the entire school, for example.

“The beauty of Skype is that there is no boundary—you can talk to or learn from anyone anywhere in the world,” says Smith in closing. Worried that you missed this year’s Skype-a-Thon? Don’t worry, the resources are in place year-round.
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