Friday, March 17, 2017

A quick summary of our Skype sessions and our Skypeathon

The map of documented Skype calls currently looks like this:

Documented calls from our Skypeathon - March 16-17 2017:

Call #1:
The first connection turned out to be Sara Gunneriusson, an English/Biology teacher at Bäckängsgymnasiet - due to the snow storm that hit the eastern coast of the USA - our original call was canceled and the next best thing was our own shining star Mrs Sara. With lots of vivacity she engaged the students and set a great standard for the calls to come.

Sara Gunneriusson and students - call #1

Call #2:
Marine geophysicist Dr. Kelly Hogan at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK, was our second call and she quickly gave us a lot of information about her research and the state of the polar ice and glaciers.

Kelly Hogan, call #2

Call #3:
Our third call went to Melanie LeJeune and her students at St. Louis Catholic High School in Lake Charles, Louisiana. My students were very happy to talk to students their own age and they got many informative answers to their questions. We hope to do something more with these students in the future.
A photo from the Louisiana side of things....

The students at St. Louis Catholic High School in Louisiana on the screen in the background, call #3

Call #4:
Jennifer Nolan greeted us from a wintery Maine and we were quickly drawn into her enthusiastic way of stressing the importance of the oceans and sea animals. Great call.

Jennifer Nolan, call #4

Call #5:
After a few trial calls with technological mishaps, we were happy to see everything working like clockwork when connecting with Dee Stonis and her students at Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts in Park Forest, Illinois.

Dee Stonis and students, call #5

Call #6: 
Nathan Doerr, at Wyoming State Museum, welcomed us in an entertaining and educational Mystery Skype manner which we took to heart.

Nathan Doerr, call #6

Call #7: 
Next thing on the list was to visit Dan Horton and his students at Broadway High School in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Students in Virginia, call #7

Call #8:
At 5 pm it was time to focus even further west and we connected easily with Vicky Trevino and students at Colegio San Patricio in Monterrey, Mexico. It just happened to be a Twin Day for them (during Spirit Week) so some students were dressed up in similar outfits. They sang their national anthem and persuaded us to do the same. 

Call #9: 
Chrissy Gregg was nice to escort us around the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. She showed us planes and war memorabilia while being very hospitable during this Q&A/Virtual Field Trip-session. Thank you! :) 

Call #10:
Next up was a Mystery Skype and the students quickly understood that we were dealing with the USA again. Questions back and forth until we had pinpointed them at North Plainfield High School, North Plainfield, New Jersey. Kelli Beard was teacher in charge on the American side.
New Jersey students on the screen, call #10

Call #11:
My American colleague and fellow teacher Rick Bleemel was helping us out and let us touch down with him north of Dallas in Texas. He revealed that he is cheering for Notre Dame in College basketball and (I think) they actually beat their opponents in the latest game. Yay! One student asked what his favorite historical era is (he is a History/Geography teacher) and I believe he said "the American Revolution."

Call #12: 
We turned a little east for the next call with friend Kelly Fykes and students in Vero Beach, Florida. We played a Mystery Skype version and it took a little time to find them on the east coast of FL. Great questioners and answerers. Always a pleasure Kelly! :)

Students from NA16F were in charge of this call, call #12.

Call #13:
I had arranged a session with Debra Erdmann and her students and today Veralice Estrada helped out in actually going through with the activity. We could find the students at Oxnard High School about one hour's drive north of Los Angeles. Excellent questions were asked on both parts, with special focus on political systems, and it sure was fun to be able to get an insight into the differences between the schools.

A look into a classroom at Oxnard High School in Oxnard, California.

Call #14: 
You could tell that Yellowstone ranger Greg Malloure was used to educational and informational sessions with students telling us about the importance of the national parks and Yellowstone in particular. The students learned that Wyoming is the least populated state in the US with around 600,000 inhabitants.

Call #15:
Our first (and only this time) visit with Canada came true through Dean Vendramin, teacher at O'Neill Catholic High School in Regina, Saskatchewan. I sent over a few questions from my students to his last week and earlier this week we received answers in a flip grid. Next week I will make sure my students answers with flip grids of their own. Thank you helping us out, Dean!

In between sessions this happened:

Call #16:
Is a canceled call still is a call? Well, if it is then we connected with Hampton High School in Hampton, Nevada. But, we really didn't, because our call wasn't picked up. :(

Call #17:
Kerri Thompson is wonderfully creative teacher that I come back to now and then since she is so committed in using digital tools. Her colleagues Alastair and Debbie joined in while we played Mystery Skype/Q&A with students at Tamatea Intermediate School in Napier, New Zealand. Love their uniforms and manners!

Students at Tamatea Intermediate, Napier, NZ. Call #17

Call #18:
Brian Johnson is also a teacher that I have come back to, because we share a common interest in digital tools and collaborations. He graciously answered my students' questions and gave us book tips (he's also a librarian). Brian lives in Arkansas, USA.

Brian Johnson, call #18

Call #19:
As March 16 turned into March 17 we connected with Richard McLaren and his students at Shirley Boys' High School in Christchurch in New Zealand.

Call #20:
Juneau and Alaskan resident Sam Jordan answered many questions about life in that part of the USA. We saw a snow-covered landscape behind him and learned that he moved to Alaska a few years back, from New England. This summer Sam and his family will tour Scandinavia and visit Sweden for a few days. Therefore, he asked what kind of food dish he should eat while here and the answer was a quick "meatballs!". What to avoid? Fermented herring.

Sam Jordan in Juneau, Alaska. Call #20.

Call #21:
Call #21 was another call that never really became a call. This time confusion about the time and other school activities hindered us from connecting. Melbourne, Australia would have been the destination but this time it was a no go. Unfortunately.

Some singing occurred when a call didn't go through:

Call #22: 
At 2 am we called up Daniel Parsons in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii for a tour of the battleship USS Missouri (aka Big Mo), involved in the attacks on Iwo Jima and Okinawa among other things. The virtual field trip was very professional and we could tell that they had lots of experience in conducting educational field trips.

Call #23:
My old-time friend Désirée Harton Gold agreed to help us out with a vacant slot in the middle of the night. It was 9 pm in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she lives, as we connected and got talking about her life as a pastor, American values and the political climate. We have been friends for about twenty years but it was fifteen years since I heard her voice and got to see her "live" again. So thankful for this opportunity Désirée!

Call #24: 
St. Mary's International School in Tokyo, Japan was next. But somehow there must have been confusion about the time because they thought we would call an hour earlier than what we had planned for. So, this time no Japanese connection but we hope for a rain check.

Call #25:
3 x Olympian aerial flyer Emily Cook called us up at 4 am and despite being utterly tired my students managed to ask her interesting questions about her life. Emily was in high spirits and we felt so lucky to be able to meet her like this. Emily told us about how to persevere and not give up even when the going gets tough as an athlete.

Call #26: 
Malaysia was our next Mystery Skype and we connected with Kidurong High School in Borneo, Malaysia. Maggie Muuk was in charge of the call. Unfortunately we experienced some technical difficulties and had to call back many many times after the connection broke down. Still, we felt lucky to have added Asia and Malaysia on our virtual world trip. Thank you!

Call #27: 
The Mitahato Education Development Fund was in charge of this call where we got to learn more about Kenyan Food Culture and recipes. Kiambu, Kenya was the place we connected with and they were two hours ahead of us. Corn flour is a staple in Kenya and we compared that to the wheat flour status here in Sweden.

Call #28:
New Delhi, India was the next place and this call became short and I have to say that we had some problems understanding each other and energy was really lacking at this point in time. Still, my students managed to pull through - great effort!

Call #29:
Early Friday morning we turned our attention towards our own country, Sweden. A Mystery Skype was on the agenda and it sure was fun to see how the Swedish students reacted when they found at that they were both in Sweden. Borlänge was the town, Hagagymnasiet the school and Annika Karlin the teacher in charge. Great fun!
Students at Hagagymnasiet in Borlänge, Sweden. Call #29.

Call #30: 
Our next call, scheduled at 9.30 am, was with the Swedish minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training (such a short title!) Anna Ekström. Some students felt an added nervousness in talking to a member of the government but the questions they asked were well thought through and the minister gave them good and comprehensible answers. An added bonus was that the minister's political advisor was Marcus Strinäs, a former alumni of Bäckängsgymnasiet.

Call #31
Anders Jacobsson, writer of many very popular Swedish tween books connected with us at 10 am on Friday morning. The students in SA16M had been fortunate to get to read his new unpublished manuscript and this was an opportunity for them to connect and give him some feedback on that script before it gets published.

Anders Jacobsson talks to the students, call #31.

Call #32:
As some of my students are prospective writers and journalists I thought it would be a good idea for them to speak to a well-known journalist. As luck would have it, I was happy to get hold of Håkan Steen, free-lance journalist/music editor at Aftonbladet and at 10.30 am we reached him for a 20-minute interview. He was a wonderful interviewee as he explained his career path and music interest to the students. His favorite artist? David Bowie. Best concert? Probably Håkan Hellström.

Swedish music editor and journalist Håkan Steen.

Call #33:
Tobias Rosvall, digital manager at Bonnier Broadcasting, works with sports in Stockholm. He got the students to talk about what his job entitles and he Skyped with us from C more's tv-studio.

Call #34: 
The final call of the Skypeathon was to Brighton College in Brighton, UK. Richard Grice talked about his previous experience of working with nuclear weapons and how he changed his career into teaching physics. A great way to end our 24-hour Skypeathon.

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