Wikis & Skype & Tech Squad – OH MY!

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Last week was another great week of innovation and global collaboration at Wissahickon Middle School!  Read on to find out all about our Community Organization Wikis, Global Collaboration with Skype and WMS Tech Squad.

Community Organization Wikis

6th grade Social Studies students are researching community organizations as they relate to community pride and concerns.  Each group of 4 or so students has chosen a specific community organization and will be presenting their organization in a “Shark Tank” type of proposal to their teachers and classmates.  To pull together all their research and resources for their proposals and pitches into a website, students were introduced to and have been working on Wikis!  Check out some of the Community Organization Wikis pictured below:

Global Collaboration with Skype

We have continued our global collaboration efforts with several more Skype connections last week with two more Mystery Skypes and a Skype with an Author.  For the Mystery Skypes, the first of two last week was with a 6th grade Social Studies class.  This was this teacher’s 3rd Mystery Skype but our first with another country.  As in true fashion when Skyping another classroom, it is always important to make sure your times and time zones are correct.  Well, we were off by an hour but after shifting a few things around, we managed to accomplish the Mystery Skype.  As the other class were learners of English and our connection wasn’t the best, it was a more challenging Mystery Skype, but we persevered and although we are pretty sure they guessed us as being in “Transylvania” and we thought they said “Pennsylvania”, we eventually found them in Greece.  Very exciting to have a Mystery Skype with another country!! Because of time constraints we didn’t get a chance to really get to know the other class, but maybe next time!  Thanks to Iro Stefopoulou for connecting with us!

In addition to our Mystery Skype with Greece, we had another great Mystery Skype with a school in North Dakota.  What was unique about THIS Mystery Skype is that we took it to the next level by guessing the city of our Mystery Skype partners.  Normally we stop once we have guessed the state, but this time we put our critical thinking hats on and asked and answered until we found out their city – Minot!  It was more difficult for them to find the small town of Ambler, so we had to give them a few hints.  What a great way to spend the Friday before Halloween!  Check out some photos of this great experience… can you see the smoke coming out of our ears?!

Although Mystery Skypes are very exciting, we also had another great Skype experience last Friday, and it was a Skype conversation with an author – Margo Sorenson.  What an awesome experience for our students!  Margo shared with us a lot of what it takes to be a published writer (lots of patience!) and also took some time to answer our students’ questions.  We were very well-prepared and organized and it was an amazing opportunity for us and for Margo!  Check out some photos from our Author Skype.


WMS Tech Squad

InstagramCapture_3c0025c6-d1c4-4d21-a542-e3afdf2844b0The WMS Tech Squad has been officially “hired” and we had our first meeting this week.  The 23 students who applied and were accepted to the Tech Squad have all begun their “work” and are actively helping out their fellow students and teachers with technology problems.  We are using a OneNote Class Notebook to communicate as a team.  The team is using the collaboration space to communicate and collaborate on many different items, including how to best troubleshoot various issues, how to get started with our 3D printer and other team items.  Students are using their individual notebook space to log their work with fellow teachers and students to see what type of assistance they are providing on a daily basis.  It is working out well so far!  Tech Squad members are identified with their new Tech Squad buttons.  Be sure to follow the WMSTechSquad on Instagram to follow what we’re up to!



Top 5 Back-to-School Tools for Creation, Collaboration and Communication

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Along with the preparation of bulletin boards, seating charts, classroom procedures and syllabi, it is also important for teachers to consider the go-to digital tools and resources they will rely upon as they head into the school year.  The five tools and resources outlined below can be utilized by teachers and students in many different classroom settings, grade levels and subject areas for creation, communication, collaboration, and so much more.

Tool #1 – OneNote & OneNote Class Notebook

To maximize efficiency and rise to the top of the class in organization, consider using OneNote (free to download for any device) and the OneNote Class Notebook as the backbone of your digital life. Teachers can deliver engaging and interactive content easily and efficiently to their students and students can complete work by typing, annotating text, inserting images, linking notes, drawing with digital ink, etc.  With Class Notebook through Office 365, teachers have immediate access to all student work and can provide on-going, detailed and specific feedback to each student privately, through text, ink, audio or video recording.  Class Notebooks also have a Collaboration Space through which all students and teachers with access to that notebook can collaborate, communicate and create together.  OneNote really IS the ultimate classroom tool!

class notebook

Example of a Class Notebook

collaboration space

Collaboration Space

Be sure to check out to learn about OneNote and its use in school, and don’t forget – OneNote is free on all devices!

Tool #2 – Office Mix

It is easy to flip, blend, individualize and differentiate instruction with Office Mix. Although Office Mix is an excellent tool for any classroom, many educators believe it is THE ANSWER for the flipped or blended learning environment.  This free add-in to PowerPoint allows teachers and students to enhance and amplify their presentations by adding interactivity and engagement through voice and screen recording, digital ink annotation, embedding videos and polling. Content creation and delivery is not only easy and efficient, but highly motivating to the end users – the students!  Also remember, it’s not just for teachers!  Students too can get “in the mix” to demonstrate their learning or teach a new concept to their classmates – and ask questions of them to see if they were listening!  To get Office Mix visit and to learn more about using it in your classroom visit

Office Mix Toolbar

Office Mix Toolbar

Check out this great video for an introduction and step-by-step guide on how to create your first Office Mix.

Tool #3 – Sway

Are you ready to Sway?  In just minutes, teachers and students can create stunning visual presentations with a unique web URL that can be easily shared for viewing or collaboration.  By adding interactive content such as photos, videos, audio files, Twitter feeds, charts, documents and maps, students can easily demonstrate their learning and present their thoughts and ideas without having to spend a lot of time on design.  As each Sway has its own unique web address, it can be used for a variety of items in the teaching and learning environment including delivery of content, demonstration of learning, but also for communication such as blogging, parent newsletters, student publications, faculty updates, etc.


A Sway in Edit Mode

Learn about the “Sway Way” below:

Don’t miss the new Sway tutorial videos and start Swaying today!

Tool #4 – Skype

How have you connected your classroom with the world?  With Skype and Skype in the Classroom, it is easier than ever to connect your students with other teachers, classrooms, experts and projects to help break down the walls of your classroom to bring the world in.  Not sure where to start? Play Mystery Skype with another classroom from somewhere around the world.  It is a fun and easy way to get started with Skype and providing global opportunities for your students.

Tool #5 – Microsoft Educator Network

Learning and using tools and resources from tutorials and websites is an awesome way to be a lifelong learner, but learning from and with others is the true hallmark of a 21st century educator.  The Microsoft Educator network provides today’s educators access to a plethora of resources including hot topics blogs, discussion communities, professional development courses, quick tip videos, tutorials, learning activities and opportunities for educators.  In addition to all that, the Educator Network also provides access to a host of FREE Microsoft tools & resources and the Bing in the Classroom daily lesson plans based on the Bing image of the day.  Join the Educator Network today!

Microsoft Educator Network

Microsoft Educator Network


Skype in the Classroom

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Have you been wanting to use Skype to connect to other classrooms in the world but don’t know where to start?  If so, there is now a website for you – Skype in the Classroom!

From their About page:

“Skype in the classroom is a free online directory for teachers everywhere who want to use Skype to bring education to life.

Teachers all over the world are using Skype to make learning more exciting and memorable. It’s easy to see why: Skype offers an immediate way to help students discover new cultures, languages and ideas, all without leaving the classroom.

Cultural exchange: Introduce your students to new ways of seeing the world with a cultural exchange between your class and another classroom anywhere in the world.

Language skills: Bring language to life with real-life conversations where students can practice a new language with a class of native speakers, or help English learners practice their skills.

Discovery: Try mystery Skype calls, where classes connect online and give clues to help each guess the other’s location. Or introduce your students to a classroom in the location of a book they’re reading or a subject they’re studying.

Here’s how it works

Skype in the classroom brings together a community of people and information to save teachers time and help them make the most of Skype and the international teaching community.

Teachers create a profile that sets out their interests, specialities and location. They can then browse through the community to look for teachers who can offer them help, or whom they might be able to help. Once teachers find someone they’d like to connect with, they can add that person as a Skype contact, or share Skype-related teaching resources.

Skype in the classroom is in beta, which means it is still being developed and refined. We are very open to feedback as to how we can improve it, so please share your comments and ideas using the Feedback tab on the left of the page. Equally, if you have an inspiring story about using Skype in your classroom, please share it with us.

Skype: inspired by education

Skype in the classroom was created in response to – and in consultation with – the growing number of teachers using Skype to help their students learn. It’s designed to help like-minded teachers find each other and share inspiration and resources.

Skype is a huge supporter of educational initiatives both inside and outside the classroom. Two such partnerships were particularly influential in shaping this: Peace One Day, which uses Skype video to produce intercultural cooperation lessons, and The Global Learning Exchange, which uses Skype to foster communication between a school in California and one in Singapore.”

Check it out today!!

Cool Site of the “Day” – Skype

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Simply put, Skype can be used to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime, via text, voice, or video. If the other person has Skype, it is free. Otherwise, there is a small fee to call land-lines and cellphones.

I use it ALL the time with my Personal Learning Network (PLN) to collaborate, communicate, and share. I also use it at Wissahickon to communicate with teachers who have questions and need a quick answer. I have even shared it with my family and my father in Florida uses it (on his MacBook!) to show me the sunset in the Keys. Very nice indeed – for free!

For instant help… here’s a direct link to the User Guide:

Feel free to add me… my username is dianne.krause 🙂