Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Kids Think Skype is the Cat's Meow

Today was one of those days where something amazing happens. My students had the opportunity to Skype with anatomy students. Skype is not something new for my learners. We use it regularly when working with our peers from across the country on The Coast to Coast Chronicles.  My students have served as learners and teachers with much older students as well (you can read about that here) and they have always loved the experience. They always thoroughly enjoy their time working with peers via Skype, but today's results seemed a bit different.

Today, my students got to Skype with Amber Lewis' junior and senior anatomy students at Spain Park High School. Her students have been studying the different body systems and had dissected cats. My learners were really excited about the opportunity to see and learn with these cats. Since we had dissected squids earlier in the year, they had been begging to do another dissection; so, this was their opportunity to get to experience it with some real experts.

Amber's students were very well prepared for interacting with my 5th graders. Each group discussed a different body system. Not only did they have their diagrams and cats, they had questions and had prepared activities to engage my students...even from a distance. For example, when they were talking about the circulatory system and showing the different parts of the heart, they had my students feel their pulse while they showed how the valves opened and closed. They asked questions that connected what they were showing to my students polling them for who knew someone who had diabetes before showing and teaching about the pancreas.

The looks on my students' faces were priceless, especially when the mama cat was shown with her 3 kittens. I wish I could have gotten better pictures of their expressions and how they were testing their new found knowledge...picture 10 year old holding up their fists and placing it where their kidneys are or rubbing their necks to feel their trachea all with the shock and amazement that only kids can have.

My students were totally engrossed in the activity.  A couple of hours after our Skype call, as my learners were still connecting and discussing what they had just experienced, they came to a heated debate about the kittens and how they would the mother or not. One student looked at me and insisted that I email Mrs. Lewis' class to get an answer. Google was not good had to come form THEIR experts.

Since, I didn't know exactly what to expect from the Skype call, I told me students that they were each responsible for reflecting on their experiences and explaining what they learned and why it was important to them. My students do this all of the time; we are always writing and reflecting on their learning and growth regularly. However, my students (even the ones that I have to pull quality writing out of) wrote pages about how important it was to learn about the different organs and body systems and understand how they all worked together.  One student wrote, "Today, I feel like I just graduated from a college class. I learned so much more than I ever thought was possible about the human body...from people I never met before. I hope that someday, I can teach them something too. Today was the best day ever!"

Their conversations went on for days. I think everyone in the school....maybe the community...heard about this Skype lesson. It was an amazing thing to witness. And like my kids, I can't wait until the next time we Skype in an expert. Anybody interested?

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