Yesterday morning I found this great post in my reader: “Livestreaming from the Classroom” by Jaclyn Calder in which she discusses the use of livestreaming by a couple of teachers in her district. I clicked the link to visit Cindy Beveridge’s classroom blog and learn about how they livestreamed the hatching of their chicks. Wow!
Now, back at W. Erskine Johnston we have almost all classroom teachers using classroom blogs to share with parents and community the learning that happens in the school from day to day. One of our incredible kindergarten teams, Jo-Anne Pulley and Gavin Kneebone, was also waiting for their chicks to hatch — that very day! I sent a quick email and followed up with a facebook message to Jo, who I knew would be up early and heading into the school to check on the chicks. She thought the idea of livestreaming was great and so we were set.
After setting up the livestream with a simple webcam — check out our “chick cam” here — I embedded it on the school blog, set up our lobby screen to broadcast the channel and sent a message to staff letting them know that they might share the event in their own classrooms. One chick had already hatched, but the rest of the chicks emerged live on camera, to the delight of students, staff, families and community members both near and far. The buzz and impact was unexpected, but delightful.
I wanted to share a few highlights to demonstrate why I think that livestreaming this event created a learning opportunity for the entire community:
- Staff and students were able to share the stream with family far and wide — as far as British Columbia
- Students in other classrooms entered questions in the chat window on livestream — asking about what temperature the incubator had to be kept, why some of the eggs were brown and some white, and what the students in the kindergarten planned to name the chicks.
- Parents visiting the school paused in the lobby to enjoy watching the hatching live on screen.
- While we were loading buses at the end of the day, the kids were still all abuzz, several stopping to comment on the chicks.
- A class that had been watching made an impromptu field trip to visit the chicks in person.
- The office of our local City Councillor tweeted about the event:
- Until the custodian turned the lights out at 11 pm, the chat was lively with parents, staff and myself commenting on the event — one parent remarked, “We didn’t realize how interesting it is to watch chickens hatch – we can cancel our cable tv!”
My point is that this learning extended beyond the walls of the kindergarten classroom and gave the school a community-building event. I look forward to catching up with the students this morning to find out about their conversations at home. It will also be interesting to check in with staff to find out if they have considered other ways livestreaming might amplify and enrich other learning experiences for our students.