One of the presentations I gave at TCEA was called, “Global ‘Heart’ Warming,” – a title that one of my friends later told me should be changed because it didn’t really describe the presentation very well. (I’ll take new name suggestions in the comments below.) However, I thought I would share the presentation here for those of you unable to attend. There are tons of links (especially in the “Project-ing” section) to different ways that you can collaborate globally.
Of course, some slides would make more sense during an oral presentation. If you are ever interested in having me present to your school or at an event, please contact me at email@example.com. You can see other available presentations on the top right side-bar of this site.
Last year my 1st grade GT students got to participate in the Virtual Valentines project. When you sign up for the project, you can choose whether to participate at a Level 1 or Level 2. We decided to do Level 2, which meant we would find a partner class to exchange virtual valentines with and Skype with them. Our partner class turned out to be in Canada (we are located in San Antonio, TX), and it was quite a learning experience for both classes. The Canadians were stunned to see that most of our students were wearing shorts in the middle of winter – not an uncommon occurrence here. And my students were thrilled when the Canadians turned their camera to show us the snow falling outside.
In making their valentines, I encouraged my students to add a little “Texas Flair” to make them unique. You can see some examples here. The Canadians made an adorable slide show for us.
I am definitely planning to participate again, and I hope that you will consider signing up as well. Even as flat as our world has become through the internet and social media, there is still much to learn about people who live somewhere else.
In 2016, I attended SXSWedu, and wrote this post about some speakers who gave us the key ingredients that contribute to the success of the Finnish education program. I mentioned that, as a celebration of its 100th year of independence, Finland was endeavoring to collect case studies of 100 of the most innovative educational projects around the world to be published on a website. In addition, Finland shares 100 of its own programs. The website was completed earlier this year, and you can find incredible inspirations on it that may give you ideas for your own next contribution toward education reform. You can find the HundrED innovations here. By either clicking on the map or doing a keyword search that can be filtered by age group, type, and category, you will see some of the extraordinary ways that educators are reaching children on every inhabited continent. Click on one that interests you (and I promise you will find more than one!), and you will be given a summary of the program, as well as steps for implementing it. This is a great gift from Finland, as it not only informs us but also shows us what we need to do in order to participate or replicate the program.
I have definitely not had a chance to look at all of the innovations, yet, but here are a few creative ones you may want to start with:
One of your goals this new school year may be to “flatten” your classroom walls by making more global connections. “Skype in the Classroom,” which I blogged about earlier this year, is a great way to get started. The site now offers Bingo Cards as a resource that you can print out for your students to keep track of all of the fantastic Skype experiences they have throughout the year. You can also use a bingo card to get a nice collection of ideas for Skype sessions! There are teacher instructions, and there is even a set of cards that you can use for professional development. All of these downloadable PDF’s are free, and just the tip of the iceberg when you explore everything that “Skype in the Classroom” has to offer!
Empatico is a new site that is being developed to match students with other classrooms around the world. Because the site is beta testing, you will need to give them your contact information in order to gain early access (expected launch in September, 2017). It is designed for students 8-10 years old, and includes two types of activities: “Sparks” – short activities meant to last 3-5 hours, and “Fires” – experiences that last 2-3 weeks. You can see some examples of activities on this page. I’m already excited about the “Ways We Play” activity, in which students share the different ways they entertain themselves with a class from another part of the world. I am always looking for opportunities for my students to connect globally (see our Valentine Project from earlier this year and my Skype resource post), and Empatico looks like a promising free resource that we can utilize!
A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to the Virtual Valentines Project. Since my 1st graders are studying different continents and countries, I thought they would be the perfect group to match with a Virtual Valentine. We were matched with a class in Canada, and will be Skyping with them today.
I wanted the Valentines my students made to reflect a little of our San Antonio uniqueness, so I asked the students to brainstorm some special things about San Antonio that our Canadian friends might not have. This turned out to be harder than I expected.
“Games?” one student suggested.
“Toys?” another student ventured.
After I assured them that Canada is not an isolated planet in outer space without any stores or internet connections, we narrowed things down a bit.
We ended up with a fairly long list, and the students could choose one San Antonio feature to include in their Valentines. It wasn’t until yesterday, though, that I got a chance to look at them closely. I thought I’d share a few with you 🙂
Overall, I think their pictures definitely showcase some of our San Antonio flair. I hope this post makes you smile as much as I did writing it, and Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!