Beautiful Learning with Technology

There are some wonderful things about living North of Lake Superior:  the beauty of the shoreline, access to numerous outdoor activities, camping, hiking… the list seems endless.  On the flip-side, there are a few drawbacks.  Larger cities have access to more resources that are quite handy for educators — museums, galleries, businesses and arenas all have the potential to serve as rich accents to a vibrant curriculum.  If these resources are physically out of reach, teachers often strive to look for ways to bring the world to their classroom.  Recently, our teachers and students were privileged to see the potential that technology could provide to a school that is challenged by its location.

Our school was fortunate enough to win a Skype chat with TWO CELEBRITIES!  Wow!  In all honesty, I believe that ‘Skype In The Classroom‘ has presented such helpful technology already, but I was truly thankful that they were able to share a connection between influential people and the students in our school.

Steve Harvey was our first Skype guest.  Two senior-level classes (art and sociology) were able to join the conversation and were enlightened by Steve’s reflections on striving for success despite any obstacles.  His persistence and determination helped to drive him closer to personal goals even though he met with resistance along the road to success.  It’s so important that students know the value of work; too often glory is seen as something that is deserved rather than earned.

Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

As the class became a bit comfortable with our guest, Steve was able to answer a few questions about his book, ‘Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man‘.  He used his enthusiasm and charisma to charm our class as he explained his thinking while writing his book.  The students enjoyed his reasons for writing, his observations about the differences between men and women, and were thrilled when he spoke directly to them.  In a relatively short period of time, these students formed memories that would last a lifetime.

Jeff Kinney, author of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid‘, was our second Skype guest.  Since Jeff’s books are geared toward a slightly younger audience, we invited our local elementary schools to take part in our conversation.

Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

Since many of the students had read Jeff’s books or had at least seen the movies from the Wimpy Kid series, there were many questions waiting to be asked.  What an opportunity for young children!  Imagine having the chance to speak directly with an author you admire at such a young age, and what that experience can do to influence future goals!

Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

Each student who wished to speak with Jeff was given ample time to ask their questions.  The author was generous with his time while he shared his experiences and insights.  Students asked if he had experiences like the characters in his books, what influenced his writing and if he was planning on writing any more books.  He also shared his experiences as an illustrator, since the graphics in the Wimpy Kid books are also created by the author!  This knowledge prompted even more questions from the students, as Jeff explained how his drawings helped to add a certain level of comfort and familiarity to his books.

Here, a student shares her own drawings as she chats about illustration with Jeff Kinney.  Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

Some students were busy trying to capture the memories from their special day.  Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

Photo courtesy Invision for Skype/AP

Each of our Skype chats were rich with opportunities for learning, sharing and questioning.  Our students enjoyed the company of our virtual guests and appreciated the technology that was used to make each visit possible.  We wish to thank Steve Harvey, Jeff Kinney, Skype in the Classroom as well as the organizers at Kaplow PR, for making such a wonderful opportunity possible.  A very special thank you also goes out to the kind people at Tbaytel , who generously supported our Skype events by providing a Rocket Hub — equipment that allowed us to have a stronger internet connection for both days.  You have affected the lives of many students in such a positive way!

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5 Responses to Beautiful Learning with Technology

  1. Barbara Wilkins says:

    Thanks for sharing the benefits of technology. You have created some “memorable moments”for your students.

  2. Nicki says:

    Student learning that is authentic, relevant and meaningful has been exemplified with both of these opportunities; we celebrate student “talk” as this is at the heart of their learning. Their reflections must be incredibly rich in content, as is this post. What an amazing opportunity for everyone. Thanks for sharing.

    • colleenkr says:

      Thanks Nicki, I believe it was a learning opportunity for all who were involved! When student learning is our focus, there seems to be a beautiful chain reaction that occurs. So many people were connecting, organizing, collaborating and learning. A rich experience indeed!

  3. Pingback: Bring Yourself to Your Classroom « Learning About Learning

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