Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monitoring My GAME Plan Progress

      While monitoring my GAME plan, I found a weakness that I may need to modify. As I said in my blog previously, my goal is to add components of technology into these plans so that students can engage in ‘learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments” (International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), 2008). I want to add a “face-to-face” interview with my host from old Soviet Russia, Valentina. Valentina’s father fought in WWII, called the Great Patriotic War in Russia, and I want my students to have the opportunity to talk to her about her father’s stories from the war. My students study the eastern front, and learn about the battles of Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. They see documentary footage from the battles, do a comparison paper between the actual battle of Stalingrad and the Hollywood interpretation of the battle of Stalingrad. It would make the lesson complete to have Valentina give them her father’s stories about the war. However, even though Valentina has Skype, we are not allowed to download it at school or use it through the school computers. I met with a member of the virtual field trip team and explained the problem to him; he is going to talk to the head of technology communication and from there we will see what can be done. We are allowed to use ClearSea, but Valentina does not know how to download that, she’s not even sure if they have that program available for free download  in Russia. Therefore, if the head of technology communication cannot set us up with Skype, we may not be able to get the face-to-face interview with my Soviet hostess. To modify the situation with Valentina, I may Skype with her from home, tape the session, and with any luck play it for my students. Nevertheless, this is not the lesson I want to teach them; I want them to be able to ask the questions they are interested in hearing the answers to and interact with Valentina themselves, not through me.

            To my colleagues, do any of you know of another program, other than ClearSea and Skype, which will allow my class to have a face-to-face conversation with my friend in Russia? If any of you were thinking of Tango, I just want you to know that my sister and I downloaded Tango onto our phones so we could talk free to each while she was in France. It does not work unless both parties are online simultaneously, her in France and me in New Jersey; Tango did not meet our needs.


International Society for Technology in Education (2008). National education standards for         teachers (nets-t). Retrieved from


  1. Hi
    I had a couple thoughts:
    - does someone have access to a smart phone or ipad that could be used to run the skype program? If so you might be able to project the image on a screen but have students converse through the device.

    - if you want to get everyone on why not use a chat like interface? I know you loose a little time because of computer lag and typing but this might be a work around that keeps the students involved. Or maybe something like Google Talk

    - lastly I stumbled across something called RaidCall which is supposed to be a Skype type of application that supports group calling you may want to look at that

    However, if it is an issue of opening something on the computer at school that might pose issues to.

    Good luck - I am looking forward to hearing how things work out.
    Jenn C

  2. Deborah,
    Your project is certainly ambitious. I assume you and Valentina said discussed the technologies she has access to. Do either of you have smart phones that offer FaceTime? I would image not, but many times libraries (USA) offer to loan out laptops and other media devices. I'm wondering if Valentina has investigated this option in her city.
    If she could record herself and export the file on a DVD, your students could 'meet' her through this venue. They could in turn be recorded asking her questions and filming your classroom as a visual for her to watch.
    I know this does not work 'in the moment' and maybe you have investigated these older means of communicating, but until the Skype situation unfolds, your students would still have a great opportunity.
    I find that many tech tools get talked about in my district, but only a few are implemented. Social networking snafus come up because some students misuse the privilege. Then the tool is blocked at school and everyone is denied access.

  3. Is there anyway the school could unblock Skype for you so you can complete this activity? I understand the potential risks involved with Skype, but there are risks with the internet itself and we cannot hide students from these incredible resources. Teachers must help students learn how to properly use these resources, not pretend like they do not exist. I hope you can overcome these complications because this sounds like a great lesson. Good luck!

    -Alexander D. Veltz

  4. I like your idea about using Skype and have a completely different perspective on the Second World War. You might try to use your own computer and then project the conferenc on the screen, as long as you have the permission from the school. I can't download any type of sofware on school computers because an administrator password is needed and the tech department is taking a bit to install anything. Nonetheless, I do bring my own laptop and avoid all the headache associated with dowloading software.