Changemaker Series: How Skype in the Classroom brought penguins to my school in India

In my state of Maharashtra, India, the school year starts in June. I was teaching 1st grade class in the village, a rural area, between 2016 and 2017. By the time it was July, we only had three admissions in my classroom.

I started to visit parents and discuss the issue with them: Why are you not sending your child to my school? I came to learn and understand that parents were disappointed with teachers. They believe that teachers from the government school, such as mine, are not well educated and that sending their children to these schools would not lead to sustainable development. Well, all teachers here are post graduates – they completed a professional degree, and yet parents hesitate to send their child to my school. And despite a lack of transportation to schools, parents started sending their kids to the school far away from this village, about two to three kilometers. If I could convince them, parents could bring 14 kids to my closer classroom instead.

I started working with Microsoft tools like PowerPoint. I started to prepare animations on our syllabus. I prepared animated videos. I started to record students’ activities and prepared interesting videos. I started to send these classroom activities to parents.

As a result, kids were happy and started to come to school regularly. In the village area, we are always facing electricity problems and, at times, the internet connection can’t be counted on. Thankfully, I was able to keep working on my laptop. In 2017, I started working with the Microsoft Educator Community, earning my first badge and Certificate of MIE (Microsoft Innovative Educator).

Next, I started a journey with Skype in the Classroom and connected classrooms all over the world. In a textbook, we found a picture of a penguin – my students had never seen penguins before! We had to see more of the, so I looked up a virtual field trip through the Microsoft Educator Community. Using Skype, our class was able to visit a Penguin Park, located in Scotland. It was a great experience for us and my students were excited to see a penguin in their classroom. They started to dance! Meanwhile, parents became convinced and happy that teachers from the government school were trying to develop themselves.

@globalcitizen #TeachSDGs #msftedu @SkypeClassroom #Skype2Learn #microsoftschool

Great session with Teacher #SidraTatheer for #Karachi #Pakistan… We prepare a Paper Dove… Spreading a message of #Peace and #Harmony…. pic.twitter.com/WC3uuMzAq0

— Supriya Shivgunde (@supershivgunde) February 19, 2019

Skype in the Classroom activities helps us explore my classroom activities with other schools. We’ve been arranging lot of classroom activities, including one focused on protecting the environment. We learned to recycle plastic, in a way, by making a lotus out of waste spoons. We did a Skype Lesson related to plastic, in which my students learned how plastic can be harmful to living beings.

The programs also helped me to explore and advance my own skills and interested. I prepared a lesson plan in English and Marathi and published it through the education portal. Now, hundreds of countries and more than 500 schools have virtually traveled through that lesson. It’s my pleasure to teach not only my classroom, but to reach out globally. Technology and social media is making a powerful impact on education and helping to change the minds of parents and students alike. Skype In Classroom helps me to collaborate, communicate, present creativity and pursue critical thinking.

Are you a changemaker like Supriya? Share your story here.

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