Browse Month: May 2015

Finding Collaboration Projects Using Google Hangouts

My final newsletter of the year will focus on finding collaborative projects using Google Hangouts.  All faculty members already have a Google Hangout account that is synced with your school Google account.  Hangouts will work with the webcam and microphone on a Chromebook or on a desktop computer using a webcam.

Google Hangouts in Education is a Google+ Community where educators can learn about Hangouts in the classroom and connect with other educators willing to use Hangouts.

Google Connected Classrooms matches teachers with virtual field trip opportunities.  Connections are made through their  Google+ Community.  Submit a request to join the community, and click the join community link on the Google+ Community page.

Mystery Hangout “is a social game played with two groups of students. It’s a mix of Battleship and 20 questions.”  When you join the Google+ Community, you can propose a Mystery Hangout or connect with a teacher who has proposed a Mystery Hangout.  More information on Mystery Hangouts is listed here.

Several other resources on Google Hangouts are listed here.

Google hosted a two-day online conference last weekend.  Video recordings from that events can be viewed here.

Have a great summer!  Don’t hesitate to email me throughout the summer with questions or for help in preparing for the fall.

Finding Collaboration Projects using Skype

Thank you to those who opened your classroom on Tuesday to our guests from Lee’s Summit.  Most of the questions they asked are things that we dealt with and resolved months or years ago.  Even though many of the things we do are routine to us, there are many schools struggling to attain our level of technology integration.

As I mentioned last week, our next step in technology integration is collaboration outside of our building and district. This week will focus on finding collaborative projects using Skype, and next week will focus on finding collaborative projects using Google Hangouts.  As you explore and consider collaborative projects, remember to start small and work to more complex collaborative tasks as you and your students become more comfortable communication outside of the classroom.  The easiest way to start collaborative projects is to work with teachers outside the district that you already know.  By utilizing your established relationships,  you can focus on the task of connecting your classrooms.  The resources I am sharing serve as communication networks where you can find other educators and classrooms looking to connect through online communication tools.

If you would like Skype installed on your SMARTboard computer, let me know.  Skype also has iOS and Android mobile apps.   (Skype will not run on Chromebooks.)  You can create a free Skype account on the web without installing the program.

Skype is the Classroom is probably the best place to begin looking for connections through Skype.  You will need a Skype account to sign in. (You can also sign in with a facebook or Twitter account, but if you are going to use Skype, you will eventually need a Skype account.  Plus, when you use your Skype account, it eliminates potential confusion caused when you use a Twitter account for Skype in the Classroom and a Skype account when actually using Skype.)  After logging in, you can search for projects or other teachers by keyword, subject, and age group.  You can also register to participate in Mystery Skype.

The Skype An Author Network lists several authors who are willing to Skype with readers.  Many authors are willing to host 15-20 minute free Skype sessions with students who have read one of their books.  Details are listed for each author including contact information, presentation topics, and rates for longer Skype sessions.

50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom is a blog post that lists projects that other educators have conducted through Skype along with more resources for using Skype.


Collaboration Outside of the Classroom

First, thanks again for your flexibility, patience, and perseverance during the MAP testing.  We learned many things on the technology side of the process, and hopefully what we learned will be applicable to next year’s testing cycle.

While summarizing the STNA data during our February 13 PD, I mentioned that collaboration with classrooms outside of our school building was not widely reported by staff or students who took the survey.  Since collaboration with people outside of our physical space has the potential to transform teaching and learning, this will be a focus of our building technology PD next year.  Because conducting collaborative projects take time to plan and execute, I want to share a few resources that focus on helping teachers find other teachers and experts with which to collaborate.  Even though there are a still a couple weeks left in this school year, now is the time to begin planning for next year.

As you start thinking about collaborative projects, start small and work to more complex collaborative tasks as you and your students become comfortable with the process.  In their book, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds, Lindsay and Davis describe a Taxonomy of Global Connection with five levels of progressing collaboration (54-56).  Each level represents more complex tasks and student independence.  I’ve listed the levels below and details on each level can be found here.

  1. Interconnection Within Your Own Classroom
  2. Interconnection With the School or Geographic Area
  3. Managed Global Connections
  4. Student-to-Student Connections with Teacher Management
  5. Student-to-Student Connections with Student Management

Harris has categorized collaborative projects into two Telelearning Activity Types that may be helpful as you begin thinking about potential collaboration with other teachers and classrooms.

  1. Communication Activity Types involving student interaction
  2. Inquiry Activity Types which include the collection and use of online information

Sample projects and more information on each activity type can be viewed here. My newsletters for the following two weeks will focus on finding collaborative projects using Skype and Google Hangouts.

After brainstorming a few possibilities for collaborative projects, begin the process of connecting with other teachers and exploring collaborative tools.  My newsletters for the following two weeks will focus on organizing collaborative projects through Skype and Google Hangouts.

Harris, Judi. Telelearning Activity Types (2010): n. pag. Web. <>.

Lindsay, Julie, and Vicki A. Davis. Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time. Boston: Pearson, 2013. Print.