At Darran Park Primary School, we recently took part in the Microsoft Global Learning Connection. For those who don’t know, it’s a way for students from around the world to connect and travel ‘virtual miles’ to speak with guest speakers, experience new cultures, go on virtual field trips and most importantly, learn from other students and educators across the world.
All up, we travelled over 50,000 virtual miles from Ferndale in South Wales. We used Skype in the Classroom and Teams to communicate and collaborate with learners from across the world.
This was reflected in a call with Anna Dyagileva and her students in Russia. They shared a Sway presentation about life in Russia. During the call, learners discussed cultural similarities and differences between children living in Russia and Wales. As well as singing popular songs from each country, students taught each other phrases in Russian and Welsh.
“Using Skype in the classroom breaks down barriers and opens up our classrooms to a world of truly global collaboration and communication.”
Skype Master Teacher Darren Hurley
Supporting skill development
Learners from Year 5 and 6 took part in digital collaboration that supported younger learners from other schools to develop digital literacy skills. Using Microsoft Teams, learners read books to classes from other schools. As well as developing reading skills, we found these calls really engaged all learners and helped them understand the power of digital connections. This activity also promoted the use of Teams for meaningful collaboration to other schools in Wales.
Gamifying learning worldwide
One of the highlights of the Microsoft Global Learning Connection was taking part in the Kahoot Cup. This unique pop culture competition involved teams from 25 countries across the world. Each school represented their country to answer questions using Kahoot and points were added to the national total. Team Wales, led by Paul ‘Lanny’ Watkins eventually finished in 4th position behind eventual winner Team Canada.
“This is a truly unique opportunity for collaboration with students from other schools across Wales. Students love competition and learned so much about other countries during the Kahoot cup.”
James Protheroe, Assistant Headteacher and MIE Expert
Learning through virtual field trips
Skype in the classroom, provided learners with opportunities to learn from experts through virtual field trips. Leaners enjoyed learning practical first aid skills from the Red Cross in a hands on session. They also developed an understanding of how charities work to support people all over the world.
“It’s important for students to understand the work of charities like the Red Cross and what better way to do this than learning new skills which they can relate to their everyday life,” said Sophie Mills, ICT Leader.
In addition, learners visited Ranjitsinh Disale, a teacher in India to learn about climate change and the impact it is having on our environment.
“It was interesting to hear how the teenagers are planting trees to help stop climate change in India,” said a Year 5 pupil.
“An important part of becoming an ethically informed global citizen is having the opportunity to ask questions to experts and think of solutions to solve problems that we all could face in the future. Through utilising Skype in the classroom, all our learners can do this,” added Protheroe.
Connecting students across the globe
Over the two-day event, we made sure every learner from Darran Park Primary took part in Microsoft Global Learning Connection. Many classes communicated with classrooms from across the world playing Mystery Skype. The idea is to develop effective questioning, problem solving, and map reading skills by getting students to ask questions to locate where the other class is located.
Mystery Skype is also an effective starting point for discussion and can often lead to future collaboration between schools.
“I didn’t know how similar we are to children in other countries. I love using Skype because you can learn new things and talk to children you wouldn’t meet in real life,” said a year 4 pupil.
Younger learners took part in mystery animal Skype, asking questions to find out which animal the other class had chosen.
Building vital digital skills
In 48 hours, learners engaged in purposeful collaboration with students and experts from over 40 countries using Skype in the Classroom and Microsoft Teams. Microsoft’s Global Learning Connection helped our students understand the power of global connections and improve their digital literacy.
“It is so powerful to watch learners developing student voice through sharing ideas, collaborating and questioning children and experts from across the globe. Skype in the classroom and Teams have made this possible!”
Darren Hurley, Skype Master Teacher
The students of Darran Park Primary School are excited to learn more from people across the world through continuing their digital global connections using Skype and Teams.
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About the authors
James Protheroe is assistant headteacher at Darran Park Primary School, South Wales. As a Microsoft Showcase School, the school has placed digital learning at the very heart of teaching and learning. This has included developing effective pupil digital leaders who have supported teachers and learners across Wales to develop effective approaches to teaching and learning with Microsoft tools.
As a lead practitioner for Central South Consortium, James has supported schools from across the region to develop effective leadership in digital learning. James is an MIE Expert and Minecraft Global Mentor.
Darren Hurley is a key member of the digital strategy team at Darran Park Primary School. As a Skype Master Teacher, Darren has brought the curriculum to life through opening up classrooms on global scale. He has collaborated with educators from across the world to create truly memorable experiences for students and develop authentic pupil voice. Darren is an MIE Expert and Minecraft Global Mentor.