Skyping from on top of the World

Today my grade 5 students and I Skyped with an explorer, Mark Wood, who is on his way to the top of the world on Mt. Everest. It was one of those experiences that made me dribble words like a kid. It was cool. It was awesome. It was really, really amazing.

Through Skype in the Classroom and an email from someone in Vietnam, we hooked up with Mark. We had to apply, kindof. On the Skype in the Classroom site, we told Mark and his team about our PYP Exhibition on passion and how we wanted to join him while he acted on his passion (climbing Mt. Everest). He was interested, and we were in. Out of 750 schools, we were chosen to Skype with Mark as he was on his way up Mt. Everest.

To prepare, we started a new read aloud book called Peak, by Roland Smith, about a 14-old climber who is trying to summit Mt. Everest.  It’s really well written and full of climbing technical terms. Through the book, we are learning about crampons, acclimatization, ice axes, self-arrests, gammow bags. Students are enjoying the action and the descriptions of Mt. Everest and the climbing world up there.

We also have been looking on Google Earth for Mt. Everest and places where Mark Wood has journeyed. Students watched videos of people making the climb up and some crazy people who were trying to ski down Mt. Everest. They understand the climb is fraught with danger.

Today, with rapt attention and a crystal-clear connection, we Skyped with Mark for about 20 minutes. Mark was able to show us where he was standing with the great Himalayas behind him. We met his climbing team. He talked about his journey and his health. My students asked some questions about his passion, his challenges and his gear. Mark shook one of my students hands–virtually. The students went wild when he showed them the YIS logo he was carrying up to the top.

Education has changed, and I’m rolling right along with it. Afterwards, the reporters in the room (from Japanese newspapers and magazines) asked students about the call and what they had learned. They said they were so excited to have an experience that they may not have themselves. They learned about the terrain of Nepal and the different conditions. They were excited to see how someone could carry out their passion. It’s a lot more than a textbook or even static Internet pages could give them.

It was totally cool…and here’s the video.

A Skype Trip Up Mt. Everest from YIS Academics on Vimeo.

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