I got to be a small part of an interesting project on my last day at Advanced Learning Academy. One of my colleagues, Dan Mallette, teaches a class for the high school students called, “Global Changemakers.” Inspired by the World Art Drop Day in which the Southwest School of Art participates annually, Dan tasked his students to each create two works of art based on the Sustainable Development Goals each student had chosen to study. About a week before Art Drop Day, they started advertising #alaartdropday on our web announcements, and encouraged the school community to follow the Instagram account for our makerspace/studio (@studiozorro). On the day of the Art Drop, I was able to accompany a couple of the groups of students as they took their pieces of art to different spots around campus to “hide” them. Once a student found the perfect spot for his/her art, we took a picture of it in its location, trying to include a couple of clues to its surroundings, and posted the picture of the artwork on Instagram with the #alaartdropday tag. Any student or teacher who was interested in one of the masterpieces could try to find it based on the clues in the Instagram picture, and claim it as their own.
The students had a great time hiding their artwork (one piece ended up on the railing inside the elevator). It was the perfect activity for the last day before Winter Break – allowing the students to get out of the classrooms and to come up with devious ways to camouflage their pieces while leaving them in plain sight. A couple of staff members I ran into were excited about trying to find particular artworks that spoke to them that they hoped to display in their classrooms.
Finding a way to give students a larger audience than just the teacher and their classmates can be challenging. This was a unique way to achieve that goal, and I hope that it will become an annual tradition at the school.
The amazing @tersonya (Sonya Terborg) shared an incredible tool on Twitter the other day that I think a lot of readers of this blog will like. It is called, “The Unit Planning Game.” Based on the 17 Global Goals adopted by UN delegates in 2015, “The Unit Planning Game” will help educators and independent learners develop a framework for a project based on interest.
Users are first directed to choose from one of the 17 goals. For example, I chose, “Gender Equality.” Next up is the chance to select a “Solutions” card. Finally, three Standards cards can be designated. (Currently, the standards are fairly generic, in the areas of reading, writing, and math.)
After all of the choices have been made, the user clicks on, “Generate Unit Plan,” and a customized three-stage unit will appear. It includes an Essential Question (for my example, the question was, “How might we change perception to make things more equal for boys and girls?”), potential performance assessments, and links to resources.
“The Unit Planning Game” is provided by Participate, and you can get even more ideas from its Project Based Learning page titled, “Teach the Global Goals.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!