For the last three years I have used Skype to connect with other classrooms around the globe. I have found students to be very engaged during Skype sessions because for most of them this is a new experience. Each of these activities requires excellent classroom management from the teacher. Students must be familiar with the appropriate use of Skype in the classroom, this is something that partnering teachers should discuss before attempting these activities. The following activities go beyond the typical "guest speaker" Skype session.
Here are some active approaches to Skype in the classroom:
1:1 Activities (One iPad or Computer for every student)
Reading buddies: Students on both sides of the computer take turns reading passages of the same book to one another.
Example: Student 1 reads while Student 2 follows along, then they switch. Students have the same guided reading questions and answer the questions together.
Study buddies: Students are given the same review sheet for an upcoming test on the same content.
Example: Students can quiz each other via the web and can use their class resources to check their answers if they get stuck.
Whiteboards: Students are given the same worksheet, they show work, draw political cartoons, or share other answers using their whiteboards.
Example: Students can complete the same math problems over the web while checking each other's work.
Speed Debating- Students are given a topic from History or a character from the same book. Example: Students hold a "one on one" timed debate, they are instructed to complete a writing activity based on their Skype partners opinion. When time is up, students on one side of the web switch seats and begin a new debate with a different Skype partner.
Jigsaw Activity- Students read a piece of the same article and come together to talk about the main idea.
Example: Students on both sides of the web are put into pairs with one computer or iPad for each pair (making a group of four). Students from Class A read the beginning of the article while students from Class B read the end of the same article. Students then discuss the article as a whole and complete a common assessment.
Whole Group Activities
Mystery Skyper- Connect with teachers across the globe and have them "Skype in" to your class giving clues as to what area they are calling from.
Example: Each class gives 3-4 clues about their city, state, or country. Each class ends the call and has 5 minutes to discuss their 3 guesses. Students can even keep track of each city, state, or country on a map.
Competition- Host a competition with another school in your locally, nationally, or internationally.
Example: Math Tournament, History Bowl, etc.
Formal Debate- Hold a formal debate via the web.
Language Speaker -Language teachers can connect with a guest speaker who will fluently speak to students (this is also great for ASL classes.)
Example: Language Speaker tells a story while students answer questions about the main ideas.