This blog post is courtesy of Nam Ngo Thanh. Please see the bottom of the post for his contact information.
BRING THE WORLD TO YOUR CLASSROOM
The biggest challenge I have ever faced in teaching was in learning to apply technology to my teaching methods. Eight years ago, I was afraid of integrating technology, although I knew that it would enhance the effectiveness of my lessons. Through Microsoft’s Innovative Educator Expert program, I realized that technology could exceed the limit of a regular class and help to expand the space of education internationally, and allow my students to discover more issues they cared about. Skype has become an integral part of implementing global projects and helping to bridge the gap between the classroom and real life.
Simple but Wonderful Start
In 2015, I first used Skype in my classroom while doing the project We are little volunteers. My students worked on projects with new friends from the Philippines, Serbia, Israel, India, etc. They exchanged personal ideas, knowledge, and they asked each other questions about their interests. They had never experienced anything like it before!
The first great experience with Skype brought joy, wonder, and intrigue to my classroom; both my students and I did not want to stop. It became an infinitely useful tool that prompted me to start looking for more ways to connect. Here are some ways I have continued to extend my classroom walls to the world and how you can get your students involved too.
- Collaborate with Other Classrooms
When conducting a lesson, I don't want to limit my students' knowledge in four the walls. So, I widen beyond the classroom with projects such as I Am Future Environmental Science and Capturing Christmas across the Globe.
- Interview Experts (guest speakers)
As you know, teachers cannot be good at all fields. So, I invite experts into the classroom, no matter where they are in the world. They will share their knowledge with my class. My students also love this way to learn new things from new people. I am so happy to see them ask lots of questions with the experts.
- Exchange Cultures
To help students to learn a new culture, I use Skype to connect my class with other classes around the world to share our own culture and learn about new ones from other classes. It's an amazing way to learn a new thing!
- Mystery Skype
My students really love this game. This using Skype helps to change the type of learning which connects my class with a class from another city, state or country and give my students with the task of guessing where the Skype class is located by asking each other questions.
- Skype + Kahoot= New Level of Student Engagement
Skype and Kahoot are two of my favorite tools that help me disrupt traditional ways of teaching and make learning fun. I’ve been consistently using them both over the past few years. Both Kahoot! and Skype made my students more engaged and active than any other class format.
- Join a Virtual Field Trip
I love having my students participate in learning activities outside the classroom. However, sometimes I cannot do this often due to a number of reasons such as bad weather, geographical distances, budget limitations, etc. To overcome these limitations, I’ve organized Skype Virtual Field Trips in my classroom. For example, to commemorate the Earth Day event, I connected my classroom with a staff member at a National Park in the United States to learn about the Joshua Tree; or on the occasion of "Oceans Month" I let my students visit the turtle hospital without leaving the classroom.
With Skype, the classroom walls extend to the entire world, and students realize that learning can take place anytime and virtually anywhere.
Here are three ways to take your learning deeper and find ways to connect further.
- Be a Guest Speaker
Becoming Guest Speaker was a new challenge. I am fortunate to receive the sharing of many other teachers around the globe for my classroom. One day, I received an invitation to become Guest Speaker for Arti Chopra, India. I was bit nervous because I had not done this before, but I think sharing will help me grow.
- Become a Skype Master Teacher
Being a member of Skype Master Teacher is an honor for me. Having this title has helped me to have the opportunity to help other teachers use Skype to transform education. I also have had opportunities to learn, share, and collaborate with amazing educators around the world who are passionate about teaching and inspiring students by breaking up “the walls” of the classroom. Being Skype Master Teacher has made me better myself day by day.
- Be an Inspired Teacher
As a Microsoft Teacher Ambassador and Microsoft Learning Consultant, I have the opportunity to meet and share the love of applying information technology in general and Skype in particular in my classroom with many teachers in Vietnam. Currently, our group has nearly 2,000 teachers with many meaningful activities for education. I'm really happy that every day I see teachers in my group use Skype as part of daily work in their classroom. This has helped me to feel the meaning of the work I am doing.
To find out more about how you can become a guest speaker, master teacher, or ambassador, visit the Microsoft Educator Community to get started.
Bio: Mr. Nam Thanh (@mrnamvas) is a primary school teacher in Vinschool in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. He has authored multiple articles, and he has been nationally and internationally recognized for the implementation of creativity and the integration of technology into his teaching. Nam is the founder of the global project Five Safe Finger: https://mrnamvas.wixsite.com/fivesafefingers. He is the winner of Educator of the Year Asia 2017 and Top 50 Global Teacher Prize Finalist 2018.