Yesterday before James Otis Thach came to CSD for his videoconferences, I went to Fox High School in Arnold to watch Tatiana Kennedy’s Russian I class Skype with Ermine Gymnasium in Novosibirsk, Russia. (Gymnasium = School). The Virtual Learning Center advised Ms. Kennedy on best practices for making such a connection. The Skype call took place from 7:15 to 7:50 a.m. (central daylight time). The students in Novosibirsk- which is in Siberia- reported it was actually close to eight o’clock in the evening for them!
The American class at Fox High School had ten students, and the Russian class had about a dozen students- all girls- participate. Two teachers sat in on the Russian side- one was the English language teacher, along with Irina Lepihova. Irina was part of the group that visited Cooperating School Districts’ last fall. At Fox, I was in attendance, as was the principal, Dr. Kevin Rossiter, who introduced himself and spoke to the students for a few minutes. One of the district’s network technicians was also on hand, as he set up the equipment for the class. A big thank you to him!
The students at Fox were learning Russian, and the students at Ermine spoke English very well. Conversation flowed well. The biggest hurdle seemed to be that neither site’s mics could pick up everything all the students said- especially those furthest away- so there was some repetition (but is that so bad, considering the kids were practicing their foreign language skills)?
Topics discussed included celebrities, movies, climate, and families. The Russian students sang all of She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain– more verses than I recognized! It was a pretty amazing connection. The students had exchanged email addresses and were going to continue with their communication. I hope to see more Skype or H323 videoconferences come out of this partnership.