Category: UK Primary School

Skyping with South America

If you’ve seen my twitter attempts to find a class in South America, for a class in the UK to Skype with, then this quick note is just for you!

A couple of years ago I volunteered as a helper/teacher at a local school, introducing blogging and Skyping to a class of Primary children. They loved it, as did I, but time constraints meant I had to give it up.

When a 10 year-old neighbour told me recently she was doing a project on South America I thought what better way to open up learning than to Skype with children in that part of the world. I presented myself at her school and, naturally, they need to first do background checks on me, but they were thrilled about connecting kids around the globe! They told me that they’d already looked at some physical geography aspects but now wanted to consider human aspects. With the Olympics coming up in three months’ time, what better topic to explore?! I said no promises but it should be possible to find a class of children (maybe wanting English language practice) by reaching out to my Twitter contacts, so that’s what I’m now doing. Tweeting it out and seeing if anyone would like to connect.

Fingers crossed, this could be exciting!

Update 2016/06/23: Still looking! The target date/time is Friday July 8th at 13:00 UTC. That’s 14:00 here in the UK.  It’ll be morning sometime in South America, depending on which timezone you’re in!

Update 2016/07/09: Well, that was a failure 😦  I found that Brazilian schools were on winter holidays, and Argentina had a public holiday on that date, and will soon be on their winter holidays.  Although my contacts were keen, the dates didn’t work out.

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Farewell to my Students

It’s the end of the school year here in the UK and I’ve taken the last of my blogging classes with my little groups of Year 4’s, 5’s and 6’s. What I haven’t mentioned before is that I also started an after-school club a while back, for an hour every Friday – so that’s now come to an end too.  Thursday was the last opportunity to see all my kids and so I made the most of it  – spending time chatting, out on the playing field at lunchtime, saying cheerio.  I shall miss them all and I think some of them will miss me too. One little sausage got quite upset when I told her I wouldn’t be back. I tried to console her and asked her to think about things she is grateful for and to perhaps blog about them. This is the result, written today, Sunday: “I am Grateful For…” with, first on the list, “I am grateful for Mr.Elsmore and his teaching because without him I wouldn’t know how to blog” That makes me very happy!

Some children asked where I was going. I told them India, Nepal or maybe Cambodia. They wondered how I could afford to do that (kids can be so wonderfully direct!) When I told them my plan to rent out my house I could see the cogs whirring as they made sense of it. They were quite intrigued.

In the afternoon I stayed for the Key Stage 2 “Performance” for parents, with stringed instruments and songs. All of the children were involved with playing something – an achievement which the school is rightly proud of. The programme ended with one of those songs which just grows and grows and tugs at the old heart strings. And I had done so well… until that point. Oh well, only human after all!

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PS, I should point out that it will be a few months before I set out on my travels – I have to get my house into a rentable state first!

Granny Available for Skyping

UPDATE 2013/04/03: Please ignore this request – a class in Brazil has stepped forward with Skyping sessions for my unemployed Granny!

A UK granny would like to Skype with non-native English speakers to help them practise pronunciation…

skype in progressBackground Some of you might know that for the last six months I’ve been working with the “Granny Cloud”, the brainchild of Prof Sugata Mitra and Dr Suneeta Kulkarni. I provide a bit of administrative and technical support to this great project (more: BBC articleSOLES and SOMES wiki, The Granny Cloud blog). Essentially this is English-speaking “Grannies” Skyping  with disadvantaged children in India and Colombia. When I say “grannies”, I use the term VERY loosely! It includes, grandpas, uncles, aunties, mums, dads… just about anyone who can spare the time to chat regularly with the kids. I’m sure that you can see that this would be a two-way street with many benefits on both sides.

The situation fluctuates but, right now, we really have more grannies than we do classes to Skype with. Trouble is, it takes quite a lot of effort on the ground to get these centres going and recent publicity has brought even more willing grannies out of the woodwork. I had the feeling that some were becoming a little frustrated so I thought I’d ask our registered grannies if anyone would be interested in occasionally Skyping into a regular UK primary school – reading stories with the school I work at. I found there was enough interest to run a few trial sessions over the last couple of months. It was always a bit of an experiment but we’ve now decided to drop them. The kids enjoyed the sessions but lessons at the school are constrained by a hectic curriculum and it was difficult to get a good fit. Some flexibility is also needed in the schedule to accommodate lessons that underrun or overrun while a Skype call is, by necessity, a relatively fixed appointment. It didn’t work for us but it might work better for you, especially if part of the purpose is language learning and culture exchange.

One Granny in particular is seeking to connect with a school and set up a regular Skype session. She is a retired teacher herself, very friendly, and loves the feeling of being back in the classroom. She is a young-at-heart 78 year-old, competent with computers (email, Skype, blogging etc) and comes from a village in Bedfordshire, towards the south of England. She has varied interests: animals, saving the planet, music and many others. She says she “firmly believes the young hold the future of our world but need guidance”.

Preferences:

  • Children ages 12+ but younger might be considered too
  • Less-privileged children who want to learn
  • Aim is to Skype to practise conversational English/cultural exchange
  • Available weekdays, 09:00 to 17:00 UK time.
  • Ideally one or two regular 30 to 45-minute sessions a week

If you can see an opportunity at your school, please email me: clivesir@gmail.com with some details of your class and its situation, and I’ll pass them along to my “Granny”.
Thank you!