# Whirlidurb's Jumping Jack Challenge

This morning I have two special edudcation classes participating in Whirlidurb‘s Jumping Jack Challenge.

After greetings, Miss Roxanne works with the two classes to predict how many jumping jack each class will do. This is adapted to the students’ math skills – and a little estimation and number vocabulary is taught also!

Then the classes jump for one minute to some lively music!

After jumping, the data is collected from each school. The count is an average – the number counted by the class leader.

While students rest for a few minutes, they learn some facts about nutrition and think of some different fruits and vegetables.

Next is another round of jumping, following by healthy things to do each day!

After another round of jumping, students learn about healthy drinks.

After the videoconference, the teachers get access to the data and suggested math problems to do with the data.

Students were highly engaged during this program – lots of movement as well as thinking about healthy choices and using their math skills. Great work, Whirlidurb!

Pictures from the local newspaper, The Herald Palladium

“Good morning, boys and girls!” Mrs. Claus welcomes the students after they dial in for a visit.

All the students sit up straighter and wonder fills their faces!

It’s our annual Mrs. Claus week, and we have 54 classes talking to Mrs. Claus from her North Pole Studio (here in our office). Here’s how the 10-15 minute sessions go.

## Chat with Mrs. Claus

After the classes dial in, Mrs. Claus chats with the students for a few minutes. For example, she might say:

• Is Emma there today? How’s your twin brother Ezra? Has he been good this year? It’s always funny when the child says “no” that their sibling hasn’t been good.
• Santa told me you had a snow day yesterday. Did you have a good day off?
• Santa told me that you have a Christmas program tonight. Are you going to sing nice and loud?
• Johnny, Santa told me you want a toy tractor. I saw a bunch of tractors down in the workshop with the elves.

I made a Gingerbread House for Mrs. Claus' fireplace mantle this year.

Then, Mrs. Claus reads a book to the students: How Santa Got His Job. There are several spots throughout the book where she asks the students prediction questions:

• Which animals at the zoo do you think Santa became friends with?
• What do you think Santa cried as he flew through the air?
• What do you think Santa saw when he went to the elves house?
• What do you think is the problem with the polar bears pulling the sleigh?
• What mistake are the reindeer making in this picture?

After the story, Mrs. Claus takes a few questions from the students. Here’s a sampling:

• What are the elves names? Mrs. Claus names some of the students in the class. “Oh?! Are some of those your names too?” Students love it!
• What are Santa’s favorite cookies? Chocolate chip cookies! But he loves all types of cookies. Do you think you could write Santa a note to take some of your cookies home to me?
• How does Santa get in your house if you don’t have a chimney? With his magic Christmas key to unlock your door.
• What does Santa want for Christmas? He wants you all to be good so that he can give you presents. He loves to give you presents!
• Where is Santa? We want to see him? He’s down in the workshop getting the presents finished. We don’t have a camera down there because it’s top secret! Santa doesn’t want you to know what you’re going to get for Christmas!
• If Santa comes to my house, and I stay up all night, will he come to my house? No! Because if you were up he would talk to you. And if he talked to everyone, he’d never get done delivering all the presents!

Responses to answers are fun to hear:

• “That’s true.”
• “Oh, I knew that already!”
• “I KNEW it!”
• “Ohhhh! That makes sense.”

At the end, some classes sign to Mrs. Claus; sing a thank you song; or do a cheer for her. Classes are well prepared.

We’ve been doing these for four years now. It’s interesting that four years ago the North Pole temperature was -24F and -30F. This week it’s been -5F and -6F.

## Other Mrs. Claus or Santa Videoconferences

Our Mrs. Claus sessions are only open to our schools; however, there are several content providers that offer a Mrs. Claus or Santa program.

I really like these programs – as they are an easy and fun introduction to videoconferencing and often hook teachers on videoconferencing. Then they are willing to try other curriculum-based video conferences as well.

# Snow Day Etiquette

WSBT News Reports on the Snow

Yay! Today we have a snow day! But, I had five Holiday Hoopla videoconferences and 1 Cleveland Zoo program today. As I’m thinking about those, I thought it would be good for another post on Snow Day Etiquette!

• Warn. If you think you might have a snow day, email your partner class to let them know! Communicate!
• Email everyone! As soon as you find out you have a snow day, email everyone involved in the VC – the teachers, the techs, the VC coordinators. Make sure everyone is in on the loop.
• Phone! If you don’t hear back soon that they got the message about the snow day, call them!! Make sure they know that you’re not available.
• Reschedule. As soon as possible (even in your first email!), start proposing additional specific dates & times to reschedule. Don’t let it wait too long.

And, while we’re thinking about rescheduling, here are some tips to make sure that you actually do reschedule!

• Propose specific dates & times. Don’t just say, “Do you want to reschedule?” Of course they do! They worked hard on their presentation like you did. Skip past the fluff of the conversation. Get to the point. Give specific dates & times that you can do.
• Multiple time zones. If you are working across time zones, give the new dates & times in both time zones. Save time on thinking and conversion for both groups as you try to reschedule. Usetimeanddate.com if you need help.
• Follow up soon. Partners “grow cold”, just like news leads. Don’t wait too long or everyone will have moved on.

Now, it’s time to make some Christmas cookies: chocolate mint sticks. Yummy! How are you spending YOUR snow day? If you don’t have a snow day, how do you WISH you were spending it?!

# Patterns of Busy Videoconferencing Days

Since I had so many videoconferences yesterday, I’ve been reflecting on the patterns of busy videoconference days, and quiet times in the school year.

What makes the day before Thanksgiving holiday so popular as a videoconference day?

• It’s a nice culmination for a unit
• Kids are ready for something different and new
• What else?

What makes the week after state testing so popular (lots of Monster Mayhems and ASK programs the last week of October)?

• The pressure of state testing is off, time for some engaging learning experiences

What other times of the school year are busy and popular?

• The week before Christmas (Mrs. Claus and other holiday themed VCs)
• The week(s) of Read Around the Planet (a huge celebration)

What patterns are you seeing?

• Celebration
• Holidays
• Breaks in the routine
• What else?

As I’m reflecting on this pattern, I’m thinking about what other times of the year I could capitalize on this pattern. Particularly the week before spring break which in our service area, is the last week of March.

• What are my classes studying then?
• What might be a celebration of spring?
• Maybe spring break / spring math problems?

I’m still thinking.

What do you think? Do you see patterns of high use in your area? What drives it? Are you capitalizing on it? How? Alternatively… how are you capitalizing or planning around the down times?

# Is VC an Expensive Luxury?

This morning I had the privilege of presenting some of my research to the Schools Videoconference User Group in the UK. Here are a few interesting tidbits & comments.

Safety and Videoconferencing
I didn’t get to hear this presentation due to its early morning time, however, I checked out Heather’s slides. You should too. See what you think of her perspectives on the safety of students in a videoconference. Do you agree? Does your school follow these policies?

France Videoconferencing Site
There was a brief presentation on this site for collaborative videoconferences between French and UK schools. I asked if US schools were welcome too, and the answer is yes! I’ll be sharing this with my French teachers.

Night and Day Around the World
Also hear a brief report of this Night and Day Around the World videoconference hosted by JVCS. Among other things, they connected students to a scientist with a telescope in Australia – to see how it is night in Australia while day in the UK!

UK National Parks
All 14 UK National Parks now have videoconferencing! (They beat us to it! There’s a movement in the US to get all the national parks to offer distance learning as well. I guess we have a few more parks though.)

Is VC an Expensive Luxury, or Now More Important Than Ever?
After my presentation, Tim Boundy led a discussion of this big question. What would you say? Please comment!!

Here are some of the interesting comments I noted during the discussion:

There was quite a bit of discussion about leadership and the need for leadership to support videoconferencing. In one very successful school, the videoconference coordinator shared that her head teacher has a vision: that they take the learning to the students – vs. taking the students to the learning. This vision drove their use of ICT, including videoconferencing.

What vision does your head teacher / principal have for technology, distance learning, and videoconferencing? How did they get that vision? Can we influence their vision? What if they don’t have the vision? How can we help them get the vision?

Two Views of Funding
Tim shared the dichotomy of views he is hearing on funding. Which one do you hear?

• We have to cut our videoconferencing program. We don’t have enough funding!
• We have to use videoconferencing now more than ever so we can save money.

Are you hearing these two views? Which one do you hear the most?

In my area at least, funding is super tight, and videoconferencing use is up!

Busy Content Provider: National Archives
It was neat to hear from the National Archives and what their perspective is on videoconferencing. They are booked a year in advance for onsite field trips from schools. The only way they can expand their outreach to schools is via technologies such as videoconferencing. They see it as a must to reach their goals of outreach to schools. In addition, they find it easier to meet the needs of secondary level classes by offering the programs on demand, vs. on Wednesday at 1:00 pm.

Using VC to Teach Science Teachers
I didn’t quite catch who shared this story – but I thought it was so intriguing. The speaker shared that science teachers don’t want to learn more about how to teach, they want to learn cool science things they can share with their students. So they offered a videoconference on how to do a squid dissection in your classroom – and the teachers loved it. It wasn’t about the VC – it was about the science. The technology just enabled it.

What do you think? Is VC an expensive luxury? What do you think of the comments & questions shared? It was a very interesting discussion, and I was glad to be invited. Please share your own thoughts on these issues!

# Monster Mayhem, Tornado Warnings, and More

Today was our first day of this year’s Monster Mayhem with Whirlidurb and Dallas. We had a busy, but learning-filled day! In addition to our monsters, we also had classes participating in the TWICE ASK programs on bullying with author Dana Lehman, and two connections with the Cleveland Zoo and the Lee Richardson Zoo. Here are some highlights and lessons:

At about 9:15 when my first calls started coming up, the whole county was under a tornado warning. Originally it was till 10:00 am, but then extended to 10:45 am. Six of my videoconferences were affected.

I spent a goodly amount of time on the floor under a desk away from the window with my phone and laptop/Skype texting and messaging to rearrange, reschedule, and calm down involved educators. Four of the VCs we were able to reschedule for this afternoon.

Reflection question: What is the craziest thing you’ve done to make sure your videoconferences happened?

## Monster Mayhem

Here are some of the monster pairs from today. Lots of great comparisons and discussions: what is the same? what is different? what could we have written better?

1st Grade (I only caught pics for one pair of their monsters.)

## TWICE ASK: Adventures at Walnut Grove & I Double Dare You

We also had several classes in the TWICE ASK program with author Dana Lehman, on two of her picture books: Adventures at Walnut Grove and I Double Dare You. Students asked questions about bullying and teasing, as well as the writing and publishing process. Great program!

## The Cleveland Zoo

Another class connected to The Cleveland Zoo for their Boo! I’m a Bat program. Great session. Had two classes participate in last week’s program as well. Great visuals & costumes!

## Desktop Videoconferencing

Finally, due to the tornado and a couple other problems, in one of my sessions, the teacher did the videoconference on her own! with a desktop videoconferencing solution that we are currently testing (and will remain unnamed). The software was installed on the teacher’s computer. Check out the video we received from them. Can’t tell the difference between this and a regular codec! Yay!

What a day! How did your VCs go today?

# Character Education with Brad Tassell

Today I have a class connecting to a new provider: Brad Tassell, who is a comedian/author specializing in bullying and character education. I have a kindergarten class participating in his Character Education program.

Brad is a comedian and very entertaining with a powerful message. His program consists of songs, magic tricks, and discussion with the students.

He read to the students part of his book, Billy Fustertag Learns Comedy and asked them great questions throughout the program.

He also worked with students to help them understand the difference between tattling and telling the teacher when someone is bullying. Great questions, age appropriate, and he elicited good comments from the students during the discussion.

He sang a funny song about a girl with a pickle in her ear and had students try to figure out why she had a pickle in her ear.

Finally, he ended with an I Love School song and questions from the students. Students really enjoyed the program – full of silliness, fun, and important lessons!

# A is for Apple, A is for Art

Arielle demonstrates a pink reflection on her face from the paper.

Today we had three 1st grade art classes participate in a videoconference with The Cleveland Museum of Art. The program was A is for Apple, A is for Art.

Students looked carefully at three different paintings with apples (Renoir, Matisse, and Picasso) and answered questions by Arielle, the presenter. Students learned about shadows and named the girl and dog in a picture. They learned to notice other colors used to make shadows in paintings, and to notice colors that are reflections off of other colors. They learned to think about where the reflection might be coming from.

To take a break part way through the program, the students sang a little song about an apple (to the tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider), led by Kevin who usually runs the computer/visuals during the VC.

Once a little apple seed was planted in the ground…

Arielle does a great job at talking to the kids at their level. She asks them questions to get them to notice different aspects of the painting, interacting at appropriate grade level the whole time.

This was an awesome program, and I loved hearing it three times in a row!

# Great VCs This Week

Now that September is over, my videoconference calendar has more programs. It’s getting busier! Here’s a flavor of some of the programs we did this week:

What are your favorite programs from this week?

# Light Science with LEARNnco

Today a 3rd grade class is connecting to Andy Campbell at LEARNnco for his program on Light Science.

Andy always starts off with a great funny routine to break the ice and help students realize they are on camera.

Students used flashlights, a highlighter, a black light, glow sticks, and wintergreen lifesavers to learn about different sources of light (incandescence, florescence, chemiluminescence, and triboluminescence). Lots of laughter as students explore scientific concepts! Students also brainstormed different animals in nature that give off light.

In another set of experiments with baby powder and a flashlight, students learned about reflection, absorption and transmission of light.

Other experiments explored rainbows and refraction. LEARNnco’s programs are very hands-on and interactive and our classes love them!