Communicating in the 21st Century:

During the 2015-2016 School Year Julie Mapstone (yes… From 21things4teachers!) and I decided to embark on a collaborative communication adventure. Neither of us had used Skype before but we wanted to give it a try to benefit our individual classrooms. Julie Mapstone is a Special Education Teacher at the Porter Center for 12-17 year olds. Through Project Unify Mrs. Mapstone’s students have participated in a variety of academic and extracurricular activities with 5th Grade Blissfield Elementary students. Julie at one point had communicated to me that her students did not receive Visual Arts instruction.  It was Mrs. Mapstone’s hope that I could provide Visual Arts consultation services for her students for an upcoming participation in an Art Show. Through phone and messaging communications Mrs. Mapstone and I came up with a plan that we thought would not only streamline workflow but also enrich both of our Classroom environments…Skype!? With both of us having limitations regarding overlap of scheduling we decided to jump right in. We both quickly created Skype accounts one evening with the intent to have an open classroom the following day. That day was the beginning of what we both hope will be a continuous collaborative adventure.

I am choosing to focus on Skype once again in order to improve my skills toward fluid use for the upcoming academic year.


This screenshot shows Mrs. Mapstone and I connecting using Skype.


This screenshot shows Mrs. Mapstone and I connected through Skype… And also a situation that I would like to problem solve for next year… Mounting my camera so I don’t have to hold it!

In reflection Skype is a valuable tool that I will continue to use with Mrs. Mapstone’s students in the upcoming academic year. I have a friend, Kristyn DeMint, from Dundee Elementary who uses Skype to have discussions with Artists across the world with her students. She takes time to prepare her students by having them engage in an Art Lesson  based on the Artist, has them develop interview questions, and then carefully chooses students to present their questions to the Artist once the Skype connection physically takes place. I can see myself doing this in the near future utilizing Skype now that I am honing my skills. As mentioned above 2 areas that I would like to problem solve for the upcoming year include finding a better solution to mounting my camera and resolving poor internet strength. The sound/video would often lag to the point of needing to cancel the Skype call. I plan to meet with our technology director: Matthew Cook to resolve this issue.


I think we spread ourselves thin with regards to technology. I have a Facebook account that I post to for personal/school use. A Facebook account for my business. A Facebook page that I specifically post to for Parents… And a school website that also houses a blog. I have an Artsonia account where I upload hundreds of student Artworks each week into individual portfolios which also allows me to individually communicate with parents with project goals/objectives.  It gets to be a bit much! I feel like I would like to streamline my communication into a few accounts rather than many. With that being said… Let’s talk Twitter…

I attended a professional development day this past year with our School principal where we were encouraged to set up a Twitter account for professional development/collaboration purposes. I set the account up and haven’t looked at it since.  For this assignment I resigned into my Twitter account after having to request a password reset.  I’m currently being followed by 7 people and am following 41.

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Here are a few screenshots from my Twitter account.  I decided to participate in an AOE (one of my favorite Art Education websites) chat on Crafty Materials: Love it or Leave it.  I frequently engage in AOE posts on Facebook. I honestly don’t like the limitations of Twitter. I personally prefer networking/communicating through Facebook which doesn’t put a cap on the characters you post (I can be long winded at times!).  From the mouth of my Kindergarten teaching partner, “I’m no twit!!!” 😉



One thought on “Communication

  1. Derica, this was so exciting to read about your collaboration with Julie. I’m sure Matthew will have some ideas to support you with this – and there are iPad tripods or mounts available so you don’t have to hold it. He may be a great resource for you there.

    You are right about being spread too thin with the different tech apps. I encourage teachers that we can afford to be picky. It’s good to be exposed to these through the 21 Things course but you can be selective about which tools might be helpful to you and using those effectively. No one can use them all. Twitter can bring a lot in terms of professional learning if you’re following the right ones, or joining in one of the edchat groups periodcally, but if you’re already maintaining several Facebook sites that is a lot to manage. This is going to be circling through my mind today – it’s too bad one Facebook account can’t be organized to point to different audiences. (Maybe it can? I just can’t think how right now.) In the “old” days we had listservs but those were hard to maintain and people had to want to sign up. I think I would drop either the class website/blog or the Facebook page. Would I need both? Some apps can be linked so that if you just post one place it goes to both (all) of them. (Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Tumblr, etc.) The great thing is, YOU get to decide!


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