This year, in honor of Read Across America Day, I got the crazy idea to literally "read across America!" Since my students have already become adept at Mystery Skyping, I had the notion that we could share ideas about books with at least one classroom in each of the four time zones using Skype or Google Hangouts. While that idea eventually fell through, we did make contact with one other classroom, and we learned about a great new app called Appear.in!
Appear.in is a free app that allows users to set up "chat rooms" where up to 8 devices can connect at a time. In a 1:1 classroom, this allows for more individualized conversations while eliminating the need for having multiple accounts on something like Skype. On desktops, Appear.in also has a Chrome extension that allows for screen sharing as well!
Our Read Across America contact was Mrs. Nording's 5th grade class in Wisconsin, who introduced us to Appear.in. We were able to divide our classes into small groups that made for more intimate chats. Our students chatted for over 40 minutes, first talking about books, and then moving on to other topics!
It's always great to find a new classroom to connect with as well as a new way to communicate! Appear.in has become another useful classroom tool...I've used it to connect to students who were out sick, and to maintain communication from our classroom to the computer lab with a student who was working on an independent project.
I'm curious to hear if other teachers have used Appear.in...it appears to be a great way for multiple classrooms to interact simultaneously.
5th grade teacher in Princeton, NJ. Passionate about education, technology, and the New York Giants!