I was lucky to connect with another 5th grade teacher within my district last year. We planned for a group of students in both classrooms to read the same book. They were required to blog about the book using our district Google Apps domain. Along with the blogging, I wanted to try video conferencing between the two groups as another way for students to connect around the same book.
Our district uses PolyCom as its supported video conferencing program. I was only able to use it once but found it pretty self explanatory and easy to use. The students enjoyed being able to see the faces of the other class and discuss ideas and understandings about the book. I realize after this first effort that I'd put a little more structure around what I wanted the students to discuss and give them the discussion points prior to the conference.
One early idea I had was to connect my students to their penpals in NY. The district rep, Steve, who I worked with said that someone outside Jeffco could easily be given a guest log in for PolyCom!!
LINK TO POLYCOM INFO:
Jefferson County Poly Com
QUESTION: How could video conferencing help enhance your instruction? Could you connect to a scientist at the Denver or San Diego Zoo? Perhaps your favorite author would be willing to connect with your class? What about learning from a scientist who is doing research in Antarctica around climate change?
If you have any ideas please share them in the comments section!