as simple as it is...
it is far from easy to start. There would be so many "buts" and "ifs" to refrain people from even starting this kind of project.
However, the mom of one of my 5th graders asked me if I could introduce someone from abroad to hold regular conversations with and become friends.
First of all, I also had lots of "buts"
my own busy schedule ~how to find the time to work as an in-between?
the same for the other side, finding a teacher, having the teacher ask the moms the kids,
technology...and I think I could have listed more, but just 1 hour after she asked me I sent a mail to Julia from Russia, asked her and a week later she had a student who was interested to start this.
You notice in the video the mom is jumping in far too much.(and wrong), so this was a wonderful chance to show her and teach her to pull back.
Here is what I told her:
"If possible, please only interfere if there is a technical problem. You can advice them, like you did today, that a pen and paper might be good to have, but don't get in any more. Also leave things like "louder please" "one more time" up to them."
The second time_ was better but still too much so again I wrote her:
"You must leave things up to the kids. They will first be slower and not knowing certain things, but as long as you take the leadership non of the kids is going to take it. If you are out of there they will tell each other what to do, instead of you and feel good about it. I am learning this myself, and know it is hard. But it is probably the best lesson for you to learn too."
The third times was out, and it went much better. (Hopefully I'll get that video) and now the kids are all on their own.
Courage on both sides
of course it needs courage:
As English is L2 for both sides, and probably the moms speak less than their children,
What to do when something doesn't work out?
What if we don't understand each other and the communication stops
Not mentioning the time zones and the very busy schedule of the kids to make an arrangement.
Well, you see, Fuka is probably the busiest girl I have in my school, maybe even in town(:, not to talk about their mom caring for 4 daughters while working as well, but they made it.
Because they were determined to do so.
Plus Plus Plus situation
the whole thing is a complete plus for all sides:
-make friends with someone abroad
-learn with humor and laughing that learning and improving means making mistakes
-learn about different cultures
-improve their English
-can see at home how their kid is doing, how they are communicating
-get "material" to talk about with their kids
the teacher/ I myself:
-gets information from the parents and kids about WHAT they were not able to say, what expressions they would want to use, what they wanted to ask but couldn't, and this way we can improve our curriculum into a more student focussed one and become an even better, efficient classroom.
I'd love to introduce some of my boys to this too, so if you have students interested PLEASE do get in touch!
A- by the way, these kids already scheduled for the next meeting on Tuesday! And want to continue once a week! Very exciting.
Mystery skype (well kind of)
Skype with Russia: It's quiztime
I am still looking for classrooms to do a Mystery Skype Call.
However, this would need a partner school that we don't know about so far, and that doesn't know about us.
Meanwhile we have already a few partner schools, so inspired by Richard we held a Skype with mystery~A Quiz session!
The lesson before the quiz Julia's kids prepared 10 questions about Russia, and I prepared 10 questions about Japan with my students.
Then Julia and I exchanged those questions, and gave each kid 1-2 questions to be in charge of and prepare (reading, write it on a big paper)
Let's start the quiz!
For example in this picture the girl was in charge of:
"What do Russian schoolchildren NOT take to school with every day?"
(there were 7 items for choice and 2 needed to be figured out)
One other girl from my class (front right) had to answer this question.
If she could>>20 points!
If she couldn't, she was allowed to say: "I don't know. I need help" and go to her friends in the back to get their opinion and help.
If she could answer it now>>10 points!
If the answer was wrong BUT the player had used all the English and asked for help and worked on it, she still got 5 points.
It was amazing to see how the kids worked together and tried to figure things out on their own:
My goal as a teacher is since 2 years to pull back as much as I can and let the kids come out. Let them struggle, let them work together, becoming independent from me.
I think for many teachers this is a difficult task, as at so many times we have to be present and have to obviously guide, especially at the very beginning of new classrooms;
however, this time I am really proud of myself.
There were a few technical problems (unfortunately we didn't get a picture in the second half), but besides of those I stayed away out of the teaching space.
The result was a draw: 40:40!
And there was no time to figure out a winner, so we will have to go on and make a decisive race soon!
Well, tomorrow I will write about the next step of Skype projects! This is super exciting, don't forget to check!
Japan was hit by a very strong earthquake, last Friday and an even bigger one on Saturday.
Kumamoto is my Japanese hometown, so I am very very sad to see so much damage in that beautiful area.
Fortunately all the people I have direct contact with are safe and healthy under their own roof.
However, I know, that a few of my regular readers are just in the main area, and there is nothing right now to do then praying.
I really hope you guys are fine, as well as your students and loved ones.