I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while. Back at the end of June we ran an assembly over Skype, involving years 3, 4 and 6 from St Michaels junior school in Bath, and years 5 and 6 from Summerhill academy in Bristol – over 300 children. I was in St Michaels to play piano, and my colleague Richard Welsh ran the assembly in Summerhill.
Summerhill went first and taught St Michaels the 5 times table song that some of the year 6 girls had written. St Michaels then taught Summerhill the 11 times table song, also written by some year 6 girls. My only role in either song was to co-ordinate a discussion in an assembly at St Michaels where the whole school got involved editing some of the lines. Both songs are great and the songwriters got a massive cheer from both schools.
We couldn’t use the screens to show lyrics, because they were being used for the video call. Summerhill had a troupe of children out front holding up boards with the lyrics on (despite their worries about whether the St Michaels children could see their bum), and in St Michaels we had printed out lyrics on lots of A3 sheets of paper which we blu tacked to the wall.
We spent quite a bit of time soundchecking and running test calls during the week before. The challenge we had was feedback when we used the same laptop in Summerhill to play the sound file and also to run the Skype call. This was resolved by using a separate laptop and amp to play the sound file, leaving the main laptop and PA system for the Skype call.
Unfortunately, after all the work to get this sorted in the soundchecks, in the manic rush before the assembly we forgot to set the second laptop up! But it still went well and both schools really enjoyed it, and can’t wait to do it again. A Summerhill pupil who had recently moved from Slovakia was inspired to make contact with her old school, but unfortunately their summer term had already ended.
In any case, this project has led to us making contact with schools in Russia and USA, as well as Slovakia, and we hope to develop the relationship with those schools next year.