One of my 7th grade classes was settling down to work on their collaborative presentations, which they share with a school in Colorado, when all of a sudden there was great excitement! Okay there was an explosion of excitement. The other class was also online and working on the presentations. To say that my kids were thrilled is an understatement. Immediately Google Apps group chat windows began popping up and student exclamations could be heard all around the LRC. These students were no longer separated by thousands of miles.
We very quickly shifted the entire class into a seminar room, got Skype up and running at both ends and within minutes were video conferencing with our partner school, as the excitement began to crescendo. We had not prepared in advance for this. It was a bit of a surprise, so there was no script, just kids engaging in discussions about each other, face to face with their partners in another country. Hobbies, favourite books, musicians and the weather were the main topics of discussion.
It's interesting how many of us find it easier to engage in text chats, where ideas flow easier than in video chats, where all of a sudden the most outgoing child might find themselves at a loss for words.
Anyway we just managed to get through all the groups, and with five minutes remaining in the lesson, the kids returned to their computers to finish up working on their presentations and texting with their partners. The kids at our end were very reluctant to log off of their chat sessions to pack up to go home. That's powerful!
You know when a lesson has surpassed your expectations, and become something even greater.This was one of those moments.