Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | April 21, 2011

On Being Learners and Being Teachers

One afternoon last week, my students were the teachers. They were the ones who “knew” and they shared what they knew with people who “didn’t know”.  It was a moment when the roles were switched.   It was a moment when I knew that the things we had been talking about all year– about all of us being learners together and about learning from each other–had finally been internalized. It was the moment when I knew that they understood.

Last week, my students talked via Skype with the teaching staff of an elementary school in Colorado.  Jill Fisch, who coordinated the call, asked my students to help her show Skype to her staff.  Jill gave us the two excellent questions in advance:

1.  Why do you Skype with other people/classes?

2.  What are some cool things you have learned when you have Skyped others?

When we discussed the questions prior to the call, it was my students’ answers to the first question about why we use Skype that blew me away.  Four separate students gave me these reasons:

  • Because we learn.
  • Because we get to meet new people.
  • Because we help other people to learn.
  • Because we don’t have to go to their town to talk to people.
I can’t think of better reasons to use Skype.  This particular Skype call was one of those events in which they helped others to learn. My kids WERE the teachers and they knew it.
Out of the mouths of (almost) babes.


  1. Your students had such thoughtful answers and were very inspiring for the teachers on our staff. Hearing about Skype from first graders made it seem very user friendly. Many teachers left our professional development ready to try something new. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  2. I am so happy to hear this was a success! I have been considering asking a few of my first graders to “assist” me this summer as I present VoiceThread to teachers! They are so VoiceThread savy!

    I would love to skype or VoiceThread with your class. I teach first grade in Ohio.

    • We’d love to chat with your class on Skype. Send me an email. cassidy.kathy[at]

  3. Mrs. Cassidy,

    My name is Micheal Armstrong, and I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama.

    This assignment is exciting. I am currently working on a Secondary Education and Social Studies degree, and I feel like this would be a great assignment for high school students. I could have my students Skype with an elementary school class and teach them something about history.

    It’s impressive that your students were able to teach Skype to adults. I have only used Skype once and it was only because of this class. I hope to use it more in the future. Did you video the session? I am sure if there was a link to this video my class would love to have access to it so we could learn how to use Skype for this class.

    Thank you,
    Michael Armstrong

    • No, I didn’t record the session. I have promised the parents of my students that I won’t identify any of the students by name on our blog. I post images, and I post first names, but I do not match the two. When we talk on Skype, the students are often referred to by name. I only record the session if we have talked A LOT about not using names beforehand.

  4. Mrs. Cassidy,
    Your students seemed very willing to help in the teaching of others. For them to be the teachers of teachers is just amazing. I have never used Skype but I will have to familiarize myself with it in the coming weeks. I think using Skype in classrooms can be beneficial to the students when studying other cultures or foreign languages. So for your students to already know enough about Skype to help others understand it says a lot about the way you have taught and motivated them.
    Thanks for the great post.
    Josh Milne

  5. Another great example of the authenticity of learning in your classroom. It must be so exciting for them.

  6. Hi Kathy,
    I really enjoyed this post. Its amazing to hear the responses of smaller kids when they are asked questions. We may not always think they pay attention, but their answers will send a shock wave through us. Skype is a really great tool to use and for students this young to get the feel of being able to talk to people without actually going to their town and learn different thing from different people, is amazing.

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