Friday, March 18, 2011

Skyping with an Egyptologist

The sixth grade social studies curriculum is awesome. We get to study ancient history. It is my favorite subject to teach. The people, places, ideas, and cultures we get to learn about are fascinating. The highlight of the year, in my opinion, is our study of ancient Egypt. Who isn’t intrigued by Egypt? Pyramids, pharaohs, hieroglyphics, the Nile, and mummies. It is the perfect recipe for making history exciting for a sixth grade student.

This year in class we were able to add another layer of learning to our study of Egypt. Last week my students had the immense honor of being able to have a Skype conversation with Egyptologist Dr. Kara Cooney. Dr. Cooney is an Assistant Professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA.

She was absolutely wonderful with my class. They had a ball asking her all kinds of questions about ancient and modern Egypt. The questions ranged from inquiring of her opinion on the mystery of King Tut’s death to the controversy surrounding former President Mubarak. Her insights were invaluable and she did a remarkable job of breaking down her answers so my students could understand.

As I stood in the back of the class soaking it all in I was amazed by the potential Skype brings to the classroom. With a simple webcam, a free program, and a willingness to ask I was able to connect my students to an expert from across the country. Using Skype my students were able to talk with a real-life Egyptologist! I am blown away by how cool that is.

My mind has been churning ever since about other ideas for using Skype in the classroom. I hope to continue to use this tool to connect my students with people far smarter than myself. We currently have plans to interview experts from the other civilizations we study. I would also like to find more classrooms for my students to connect with and share what we are learning. If you have ideas for how you use or would like to use Skype in the classroom let us know in the comments or on Twitter @jonathanferrell.

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