As teachers increase thier PLN networks of educators, we should also create connections with professionals outside of education. Recently my class skyped with an adult in another country after spending one week researching topics of choice. It was absolutely amazing to me how involved and mature my students were during this activity.
After experiementing with Skype over the past couple of years, I noticed that my students would get more out of each session if we rehearsed with follow-up questions. It helped the speaker go further in depth on the topic.
Read the STEM Cook Prize nominated book, The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker to your students to help students understand that there are relationships, systems, and cycles within environments. Allow students time to read http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/animalsnature/honey-bee-mystery/ about Colony Collapse Disorder and the theory that humans might be causing the problem.
This is a good time to add a literacy station for research. I have used Popplet successfully with my students in the past. Here is a brainstorming activity that we completed together after they researched Whooping Cranes for a class book that we published. http://martinteach.edublogs.org/2011/11/03/popplet-vs-wallwisher/. However, I want to use our class iPads in literacy centers and Popplet won’t work for us. Today I loaded Mindomo onto our iPads and I think it has everything that we need including visuals and flow charts. Check out Mindomo at http://www.mindomo.com.
Plan on inviting a professional to talk to your students on Skype. We contacted local beekeeper groups to talk to us for about 10 minutes on Skype. This is a great way to get students involved with the community and a good way for professionals to give their time to schools.