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!
I asked my 1st grade gifted students today to try to think from their parents’ perspectives of what they would like for Valentine’s Day besides food or flowers. The first student said that her parents would want, “my sister and I to stop fighting,” which seemed like a pretty good response. Then the next student said, “Yeah, my mom would want to rest in peace.” I think I know what he meant, but you can never be sure. Then another student said, “Beer!” which brought up an interesting discussion as to whether or not that could count – because “it’s a food!” as some of the students declared…
Sometimes my job just makes me smile 🙂
Anyway, this all started because we are studying different countries, and learning about the Depth and Complexity icon, “Multiple Perspectives.” I signed our class up to participate in a Virtual Valentines project, and we will hopefully be exchanging Valentines with a class in another country. It occurred to me that are probably very few countries that actually celebrate this holiday, but I did some research and found out that several places around the world either have Valentine’s Day traditions or other similar variations. (I’m still trying to figure out why “Love Spoons” haven’t caught on yet in the USA.)
I signed us up for Level 2 of the Virtual Valentines Project, which means that we will not only make virtual Valentines, but try to exchange them with another class. If that is too much pressure, you can also choose Level 1, which just legally binds you to having your class create virtual Valentines. Which I read to mean, “I am putting my name down, but my life is crazy and it’s quite possible that by ‘virtual’ Valentines I mean that my students will just create some in their imagination, so I refuse to commit myself to them doing anything that isn’t somehow tied in to standardized testing.”
The Virtual Valentines Project has a resource page, which gives suggestions for tools to use to create your digital cards. I would add to this list the Quiver App’s free augmented reality Valentine’s Day page, which you can find here.
For more Valentine’s Day ideas, you can look at last year’s blog post. I’ll probably update and re-blog it in the near future.
In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned how our class has connected with experts through Skype in the Classroom. One of the experts was a science reporter named Erik Vance, who helped my 3rd graders really understand the impact overfishing has had on ocean ecosystems. (The students are working on a Genius Hour project about protecting the coral reefs.) Mr. Vance was matched with us after we scheduled a request for an interview on the topic on Skype in the Classroom. Our request went to the Pulitzer Center, and a member of their staff, Fareed Mostoufi, arranged for Mr. Vance to speak with the children at our requested date and time. You can read about the interview here.