Teddy Travels the World

Meet Teddy!

Earlier this year my buddy Joe Sergi (@pep073) and I started Traveling Teddy. A project that involves seven early childhood classes in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, America, India, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia all taking turns having Teddy visit their classrooms. The objective: teach teddy and share what you’re teaching him with the rest of us! 

The first thing I wanted out of this project was to have it become an extension of what was already happening in the classroom, not an ‘add-on’. So, we emphasized that the kids should teach Teddy about what they are currently learning. The other thing I wanted was a way for young learners to have a real hands-on connection (Teddy) to relate with as they learned about places and children around the world. Often, global education limits us because we’re communicating on a screen. As wonderful as it is that we are able to do that now, I am sure that most early childhood educators will agree with me when I say that at this young age, hands-on learning experiences are extremely valuable. In Traveling Teddy, all the children involved get to touch Teddy, play with him, show him around their school and really make a connection. So, with this project I hoped to use a real experience that all the classes share, to help us all make valuable connections with each other.

Classes are blogging to Teddy’s blog using Easy Blog Jr., thanks to @Phillip_Cowell@dtaylor2008 and @gueben, the guys behind Easy Blog Jr. (by Easy App Co.) who agreed to help us with this project. Easy Blog Jr. makes it really simple for kids to independently post to a WordPress blog. They also have a Blogger version and other very kid friendly apps.

Participating classes were given the option of using Twitter and Skype in this project. It is optional because some classes tweet while others don’t. As for Skype, it’s use is dependent upon timezones, so both these options were made available by sharing Twitter handles and Skype names with each other but leaving it up to individual teachers as to whether or not they would incoproate the use of these tools or not. So far I have been able to Skype with our class in Saudi Arabia and our hashtag #globaledted continues to have updates on Teddy’s adventures! Currently he’s in transit from New Delhi, India to Singapore!

Teddy is also quite tech savy and travels with a QR code in his pouch created by each of the classes to send to the next. He has his own little passport that gets stamped and class pictures are pasted into it. Finally, classes will hopefully contribute to a book made on Book Creator to share Teddy’s journey through these past few months.

We’ve already had many teachers contact us for next year and it is getting exciting to see where Teddy may be heading in the coming school year! We are even considering launching more than one Teddy so that as many schools as possible can get involved! If you are interested in having Teddy visit your school next year please do read through teacher information carefully, then leave a comment or contact us through the Traveling Teddy site.

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Posted in Guest Projects

When technology makes the impossible, possible!

Capture

Picture this -

  1. a class of students in a slum/ghetto of Kenya – the largest slum in Africa by both size and population See Boomtown Slum: A Day in the Economic Life of Africa’s Biggest Shanty Town
  2. students who are orphaned and many of whom have lost their parents to AIDS.
  3. visible holes in the decaying walls
  4. no power in the classroom
  5. no visible seats or chairs for the students to sit on
  6. no sign of books and resources
  7. volunteer teachers who care passionately about and for these students

Despite all this:

  • the teacher is amazingly innovative, creative, connected and active with the use of his laptop and mobile wifi
  • uses skype to connect his students to others across the world
  • the children are confident and seem happy, singing with gusto and rhythm
  • the children are given opportunities to learn at the Cheery School – “a place for nurturing students for their better lives”.

Technology makes these connections that were previously impossible, possible. Children from the slums of Nairobi, Kenya can learn from others around the world in real time, when they cannot afford books, education or even food etc!This week is multicultural week in Victoria, Australia and Friday 21st is National Harmony Day, which makes even more precious the story that now unfolds.

the girls1

Last night it was my great privilege to connect with this class of young children aged 5-7 from The Cheery School, Kibera slums, Nairobi, Kenya. Their passionate and caring teacher, Livingstone organised them to individually ask questions of me. They were confident, well mannered and at times shared objects with me to show their culture and the wild animals of Africa. In fact, I thought they had a real snake to show but it was a toy! To complete the connection, the students sang a wonderful song to me in an enthusiastic and joyful manner, showing rhythm and unity.

A toy snake is shared to show some of the local wild animals.

A toy snake is shared to show some of the local wild animals.

How can we help classes such as these? Will technology provide the ability to learn with and from the world, help them break out of their cycle of poverty? The impossible, may just become possible!

Below are some videos that share more about the Cheery School:-

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Posted in Anne Mirtschin, Global Classroom

Building Global Partnerships: Part 3 – Developing Intercultural Understanding

A little while ago, we came across a thought provoking blog post from Jennifer Klein, exploring the sometimes complicated, but rewarding world of global connections and collaboration.

With Jennifer’s permission, we are re-publishing the post as a three part series, with the intention of starting a conversation with the wider #globalclassroom community. We hope you will take the time to read through, and share your answers to our reflection questions in the comments below.

If you missed the earlier posts, you will find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. This is the third and final post.

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photo credit: A30_Tsitika via photopin cc

Remember that communication will take patience and inter-cultural skills, particularly in cases where teachers don’t share a common language.  

While language differences can slow down the initial steps in a global partnership, teachers have an opportunity to develop–and model–the kinds of inter-cultural communication skills needed for culturally-responsive global engagement.  By making use of local expertise–among colleagues, students and parents–we can help spotlight the gift of foreign language proficiency among members of our community, and can help students see the value of learning another language in real terms.  By testing (rather than avoiding) the technological tools available for translation, we can also help students become more discerning about their value and better at identifying accuracies.

My suggestion is usually that teachers communicate in their native language and use resources (people, translators, etc.) to understand what they receive, but there is great value in trying and practising your partner’s language as well–and there is little more valuable for young language learners than seeing the example of adult learners taking risks with a new language.

Be thoughtful about how you handle inter-cultural and personality differences that pose challenges along the way.  

Other nuances of communication can also pose challenges, and differences of tone and communication style can often cause more difficulty than pure language use.  I’ve seen teachers from culturally aggressive countries inadvertently offend teachers from more culturally submissive regions, I’ve seen teachers from “nice” cultures politely agree to things they have no intention of doing, and I’ve seen teachers from argumentative cultures create conflict without meaning to.  The best advice I can give is to be transparent.

To meet in a face-to-face setting like Skype can be a huge help, but more importantly transparency means letting your partner teacher know when you hit a road bump.  Try to engage in dialogue rather than avoid confrontation if you’re struggling with an element of the project or communication–let your partner know if you’re bad at answering emails around exam times, let them know how you respond to stress.  Just as we want our students to lean into discomfort and learn to collaborate effectively in spite of–perhaps even because of–our differences, we need to do the same ourselves.

Read what’s out there and learn from what others have tried; more progress happens when we stop reinventing the wheel.  

There are far too many good publications for global educators to list them all, but I’ll name a few I’ve been exploring lately–and liking.  I hope readers will add to the list by commenting about books, articles and other resources worth exploring.

Books:

Blogs:

  • Suzie Boss (Regular Edutopia blogger with expertise in Project-Based Learning who often shares stories of successful global partnerships and projects)
  • Silvina Tolisano’s “Langwitches” (Varied Global and Educational Technology Topics from a Classroom Practitioner, The Graded School, Brazil)
  • Kristen Goggin’s “Stories from the Garage” (Global PBL in Middle School Math from a Classroom Practitioner, Town School for Boys, California)
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Posted in Global Classroom, Jennifer Klein

World Water Day 2014 – March #globalclassroom chats & Projects

WWD_2014_logo_EN

This coming weekend marks the celebration of World Water Day 2014, held on March 22 each year, and it promises to be a wet weekend at The Global Classroom Project.

1) World Water Day International LinoIt Project 2014

For the past three years, the WWD LinoIt Project has given students around the world the opportunity to share their thoughts, photos, and experiences of water conservation with the wider world.

This year’s project will run from March 19-25, and will be jointly hosted by Class 5, from School 1302 in Moscow, Russia and Robyn Thiessen’s Grade 4/5 class in Canada. We are also looking forward to working with Project Purus, who are raising to provide clean water for school children in Nepal. 

Please bookmark the 2014 LinoIt and share with your class using this link - http://bit.ly/worldwaterday2014.

2) March #globalclassroom Chats – March 22/23

See the UN World Water Day website for more!

Discussion Questions

  1. What does water mean to you and your community?
  2. What global water issues are you aware of, or experiencing in your country?
  3. What opportunities can we provide our students to take action on water issues in their local region?
  4. Can students raise awareness and make a real difference globally? Can you share some examples?
  5. What activities and teaching resources would you recommend for exploring World Water Day issues with your class?

Schedule

Please double check the time in your region, particularly if you have recently moved to/from DST

Chat 1 ~ Saturday, March 22, 10:00 – 11:00 UTC

  • 10:00 London, 12:00 Cape Town, 15:30 New Delhi, 18:00 Perth, 21:00 Sydney (AEDT), 23:00 Auckland

  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 2 ~ Saturday, March 22, 18:00 – 19:00 UTC

  • 11:00 Los Angeles, 14:00 New York, 18:00 London, 20:00 Cape Town, 07:00 SUNDAY – Auckland

  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 3 ~ Sunday, March 23, 02:00 – 03:00 UTC (Saturday in N & S America!)

  • Saturday night – 18:00 Los Angeles, 21:00 New York

  • Sunday – 06:30 New Dehli, 9:00 Perth, 12:00 Sydney, 14:00 Auckland

Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

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Posted in Global Classroom, Michael Graffin, Project Announcements, Project Purus, Twitter Chats

Building Global Partnerships – Part 2: Taking the Time

A little while ago, we came across a thought provoking blog post from Jennifer Klein, exploring the sometimes complicated, but rewarding world of global connections and collaboration. With Jennifer’s permission, we are re-publishing the post as a three part series, with the intention of starting a conversation with the wider #globalclassroom community. We hope you will take the time to read through, and share your answers to our reflection questions in the comments below.

Part 1 of the series is published here

PART 2

Don’t expect immediate success–deep, constructive global relationships require a marathon, not a sprint.  

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photo credit: kaneda99 via photopin cc

The challenges of global partnerships are many, and teachers have to develop the same inter-cultural skills as they hope to foster in their students in order to be successful.  The learning curve can be long–and that means global partnerships are rarely efficient, easy to organize, or completely successful the first time around.  The worst thing you can do, however, is jump from partner to partner in search of the “perfect” pairing–the best partnerships are rarely perfect to begin with. 

The moral of the story is to work at it, to think of the partnership as a long-term relationship which will improve with time and effort, and to expect things to be messy for the first year or two.  Whether it’s navigating time zone differences (east to west), school year differences (north to south), trouble-shooting differences in technological access, or just trying to communicate regularly and well, you can expect this relationship to take effort–and to get richer and deeper as you put in that effort.

It’s essential to accept the limitations of technology and work within its potential, but it’s also important to think beyond technology as well.  Global communication and relationships reach their deepest level through in-person experiences–and no matter how much technology has done for the global educational field, it will never replace the value of international travel for teachers and students with relationship-oriented organizations such as World Leadership School.  Whether this is a teacher traveling to connect personally with their partner teacher(s) or students traveling to connect their communities, there is no question that deep relationships–especially on the level of sister schools–require more than email and Skype calls.

Keep your expectations realistic in year one–consider small successes, significant successes, and build something bigger from there.  

It’s reasonable to say that most teachers go into global partnerships expecting too much their first time around, largely because the prospect of a global collaboration is so exciting and we have trouble controlling ourselves.  Much of the time, however, when teachers try to accomplish too much too quickly, they leave the topics students find most relevant.  By creating a space for less content- or standards-driven dialogue about favorite movies or day-to-day life, we can help build the foundations for much deeper dialogue later by helping kids see what they have in common. Bigger successes and deeper virtual events on global issues and perspectives might come later, but small successes count in the meantime.

Just knowing how to connect Skype doesn’t mean there will be a deep and meaningful dialogue between classrooms; in fact, navigating the awkward silences and discomfort of the first few Skype sessions is often what turns new teachers away from global education. I’ve seen huge, high-tech global events go to heck in a hand basket on million dollar equipment, and I’ve seen a no-budget Facetime call change students’ lives.  Remember that deep global experiences aren’t about fancy technologies and big events–they’re usually about small accidental moments which occurred because the teachers created the right context for dialogue and didn’t push the kids too far too fast.

I’ve had many experiences where a simple, seemingly innocuous question in a video conference drew out something meaningful and helped students connect with the world authentically; if you’re hungry for examples, see “Creating the Conditions for Accidental Learning: Dialogue with Syrians, Palestinians, Canadians… and Wookies.”

Consider building smaller experiences and “one-offs” with individuals to fill the gaps while deeper partnerships develop. 

Sometimes it makes best sense to supplement the developing partnership with a few Skype sessions with relevant individuals who can help to take the conversation deeper.  People all over the world are involved in creating change in their homes, schools, communities and beyond, and most are so passionate that they’re thrilled to engage with classrooms and inspire the next generation to become leaders in their fields.  Especially in the first few years of developing a deeper partnership with a classroom or school, these one-off experiences can really help globalize the dialogue in your classroom immediately, and speakers can be found in non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and even your alumni directory.

Particularly among higher-level teachers, I’ve noticed a tendency default to Skyping with semi-famous or major “experts” in a given field, and this makes sense when an expert can answer student-generated questions better than a young person can.  However, I’ve found that sometimes more important connections happen when kids get to meet an individual who’s closer to their age and not yet considered important for their efforts.  For example, I often connect classrooms with Yasser Alaa Mobarak, a young Egyptian photographer who has done a great deal of work with iEARN.  He shares his photography, talks about what he hopes viewers will see, answers questions from the kids, and then invites students to continue the photographic dialogue and sharing in a private group he’s set up on Facebook.  Honestly, no number of experts in Middle Eastern politics could ever impact kids as much as just one of Yasser’s photographs because they’re real, raw, and relevant.  Most importantly, connecting with someone like Yasser demonstrates that young people don’t have to be famous to make a difference through their individual efforts and passions.

Reflection Questions

  1. How can we best share our experiences to support new and emerging global educators, so they learn from our mistakes?
  2. What advice would you give to an educator / colleague starting out on their global journey?
  3. Can you share anecdotes / stories of how small incidental questions have led to unexpected global learning outcomes?
  4. Would you be interested in being mentored by an experienced global educator? Or would you be happy to be a mentor for another international teacher? (See the Global Classroom Mentoring Project)
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Posted in Global Classroom, Jennifer Klein

“Delving beyond the tip of the iceberg” #globalclassroom chats (Feb 22/23)

As global educators, we are faced with the challenge, and incredible opportunity, of rethinking how we teach and learn about other cultures, religions, and countries.

In the words of Australian blogger and inquiry educator Edna Sackson (@whatedsaid);  

“Culture is often compared to an iceberg which has both visible and invisible parts. The tip of the iceberg represents the elements of culture which we can see, such as food, language and customs. Those elements which are less obvious, such as values, beliefs and worldview, comprise the much larger portion of the iceberg underwater.”

… By starting with the human qualities, finding what we have in common, we can more easily relate to and connect with people of different cultures.

(June 13, 2010, Retrieved from http://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/06/13/below-the-tip-of-the-iceberg/)

With the help of online technologies and education networks, it is now possible for teachers and students to connect, learn, share, and collaborate beyond their classroom walls. By building bridges through this ‘global classroom’, we can empower our students to delve beyond the traditional ‘meet n greet’ or ‘cultural exchanges; and start to develop meaningful personal relationships with other children around the world. We need to break the ice … and go beyond the tip of the iceberg. But, how?

And its time to return to this question in the February #globalclassroom chats.

Discussion Questions

1) How do we define culture? What aspects of culture are suitable for inquiry?

2) How do we start to build trust and relationships between international partners which endure over time?

3) What learning opportunities foster discussions about similarities and differences across cultures?

4) Can you provide examples (projects, blog posts) which demonstrate the power of delving beyond Flags, Food, and Festivals?

Times and Schedule

Join Michael Graffin for the 9:00 GMT  Keynote at the OZeLive Conference, immediately prior to #globalclassroom chat 1.

Chat 1 ~ Saturday, February 22nd, 10:00 – 11:00 UTC

  • 10:00 London, 12:00 (noon) Cape Town, 15:30 New Delhi, 18:00 Perth, 21:00 Sydney, 23:00 Auckland

  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

 

Chat 2 ~ Saturday, February 22nd, 18:00 – 19:00 UTC

  • 10:00 Los Angeles, 13:00 New York, 18:00 London, 20:00 Cape Town, 07:00 SUNDAY – Auckland

  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

 

Chat 3 ~ Sunday, February 23rd, 01:00 – 02:00 UTC (Saturday in N & S America!)

  • Saturday night – 17:00 Los Angeles, 20:00 New York

  • Sunday – 06:30 New Dehli, 09:00 Perth, 12:00 Sydney, 14:00 Auckland

  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

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Posted in Global Classroom, Twitter Chats

Flat Stanley Aurasma Project

Original blog post from Mr. Hart’s ITRT Blog

During this school year, I have really enjoyed going over to Kaechele Elementary School about once a month to help teach and integrate the Augmented Reality App, Aurasma into some classrooms.

Mrs. Hyman, the school librarian and information specialist, took the same Flat Stanley Project that most schools do to the next level. As usual, each student had to design their own Flat Self. This is where the similarities ended. Mrs. Hyman had each student create a video including the following:
1. Introduce themselves and their flat self
2. Go through their winter break adventure sequentially, showing their pictures and drawings
3. Wrap it up with a conclusion

After the students completed their projects, Mrs. Hyman used the studio.aurasma program to make the over 100 auras for all the 2nd grade students. The coolest part about this project is that Mrs. Hyman has connected with the infamous Shannon Miller, Teacher Librarian & Technology Integrationist, from the Van Meter School in Iowa. This amazing librarian is completing the same project with her students. Once completed the schools are going to send their Aura Filled Flat Stanleys to each other for the students to scan and meet each other.

We’ve missed a lot of days because of snow the past few weeks, so if Mrs. Hyman has enough time, the next part of the assignment will be to take the Stanleys on a school adventure around Kaechele Elementary giving a tour of their favorite spots. The students will take a picture using the iPads while on the tour, and write about the school adventure. Once completed all the information and pictures will be compiled together into an eBook using Flipsnack, so both schools can see what their Flat Stanleys were up to during their visit to the host schools!

Interested in trying out Aurasma’s studio.aurasma to start creating your own Augmented Reality? Check out this Aurasma 101 Directions I made.

Check out this quick video clip showing some of the creation from the beginning of the project! So fun!

Posted in Classroom Stories, Flat Stanley Project, Global Classroom, Guest Projects
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