Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaching from the (un)comfort of my home

The rest of this week will be spent at home with my foot elevated. I will save you from seeing the picture of a very bruised and swollen foot. I came down on a student's foot during a school volleyball marathon Sat night and the doctors think it is broken or I have some ligament or tendon damage. I'll know more later int he week.

Despite the injury, I was determined to still teach my class. I'm not the type to to just sit and do nothing. I went to school and set up my class laptop so a sub could turn it on and Skype would open and log in. I'm going to teach class using Skype.

After the first day, things went swimmingly. I had a few minor connection problems that were resolved with a re-call, but that was it. The students could hear me and I could hear them. We were able to discuss elements of the Harlem Renaissance with ease. The sub collected work and passed out other work for them to do for the night. It was pretty seamless.

The students do not have the iPads right now because I wasn't able to figure out a way to mangage the cart while I was gone. It is a minor problem that I should be able to solve later this week.

I had some of the students using the #MrPAmLit hash tag as part of a backchannel, but it wasn't actively used on the first day. I think most of the students were focusing on me and not their devices, which is a good thing. Hopefully they will get more comfortable using it as we do it more.

I like the fact that I can Skype from home and have thought about it's use if I were to travel for conferences. Skype and webcams are not standard throughout my district, but this little experiment is a good reason why they should be to some degree. I'm not a fan of spending money to make every room the same if the teacher does not need the tool, but I think it might be a good idea to reach out to teachers to see if they would be interested in having Skype in their room to connect with other educators, authors, experts, etc.

I'll keep everyone posted on how the Skype from home experiment pans out.

Have a great day everyone!


  1. Have you thought of using something like classroom presenter or an online whiteboard with a tablet to display to the students? I have used both and the online whiteboards are nice to be able to collaborate with the students in the classroom while you are not there, but in contact. I have tutored this way to moderate success. The online WBs allow everyone to write, so a smartboard in the classroom would work well.

  2. It's fantastic that you're doing this. You will undoubtedly find other tools to make such remote teaching even more effective, but good for you for jumping in to give it a try.

    This can work the other way, too. We had a student out several weeks with back surgery who "attended" some classes virtually with the help of a classmate carrying around a netbook with a webcam and "broadcasting" the class proceedings to her at home.

    She wasn't linked every class every day, but enough where she still felt connected to what was going on in her classes.

    Good luck getting back on your feet!

  3. What a great idea! I really dislike being out of my class for several reasons. One is taking the time to write lesson plans with enough detail that a guest teacher can use them effectively. Another is worrying about behavior issues. Using Skype could be a great solution.

  4. Skype should let you share your screen, so you could actually startup a whiteboard app on your computer and share it with the students. They won't be able to write on it though.. Oh wait, better idea is to have the school computer share the screen and the whiteboard app. As long as you set the files up a head of time, they can write and you can see. :-)


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