The Journey of Being a Connected Classroom

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So what is a connected classroom and how do I get my classroom connected?  These two questions seem to be common for many educators today.  More and more teachers are seeking to build and maintain connections in their classrooms.  Establishing a connected classroom doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without grit and perseverance.

I hope you’re still with me because being a part of a connected classroom gives the learners (and I am including us as  learners) a greater purpose and authenticity in our work, it motivates us and it pushes our thinking.

You may be familiar with this quote~

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

Donald Rumsfeld


We know this is true for adults who have many years of experience, but let’s think about our studens who are just beginning to experience life. Their schema is limited, limited by the people they are surrounded by.  What they learn and how they think is based on the community in which they live and go to school.  As we prepare our students to be leaders of our communities we know their professional communities will reach far beyond the limits of our classrooms, our schools and even the communities in which they live.  Knowing this, as professional educators, we can’t stand unconnected in our professional lives. Not if we are preparing learners to be members of the global community in which they are living.

The journey of being a connected educator begins with the teacher.  I am not a spokes person for Twitter, but I would be remiss not to share the brawn of Twitter in becoming connected.  I know many people at this point begin to nod or curl a lip.  Don’t worry I am not talking about twitter like my teenagers use twitter. I am talking about following other educators and their classrooms.

In my first job I had an employer give me this advice,

“Always surround yourself with people you want to be like.”

This advice has served me well in so many instances and it couldn’t be more suited here. If you want to be a connected educator, follow connected educators and their classrooms. Follow their blogs, their thinking and their journeys. Connected educators share all this and more on twitter. They share tools, struggles and celebrations and they do it for FREE and they do it for OUR kids!  Connected educators are immersed in the voyage and they know the challenges, they are living them, they are overcoming them and they are sharing it all on Twitter!

Happy Tweeting!


Reflections on International Mindedness

Copyright Shutterstock. Used under license.

Copyright Shutterstock. Used under license.

A guest post courtesy of Toni Olivieri-Barton who blogs at

In the International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization, “international-minded” students are defined as demonstrating all of the following attributes: open-minded, risk-taker, reflective, principled, balanced, inquirer, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators and caring. There are many ways to give our students enough time to practice these attributes. I have incorporated them into the library time and collaborating with teachers to allow students to show these attributes to others around the world

Global projects assist teachers and students in being able to demonstrate all those attributes, but especially open-minded, risk-taking, and reflective. In a global project, classrooms around the world meet virtually to discuss cultural similarities and differences. For students who may never get to travel outside of their neighborhood or school, this global experience is essential because they will hear ideas and opinions that they themselves have not thought about. Even understanding students in a different school in the United States can open up their minds allowing them to care and reflect on their life.

One example of this is Mystery Skype. Mystery Skype is a Skype videoconference where another school in the world to connect with my school. The teachers do not tell the students where the other school is from and the students ask each other Yes or No questions to determine where the school is located. While doing this the teachers and students talk about being good communicators and thinkers. Our students are not allowed to use slang or text talk so that they can be respective when they communicate. They are representing our school and need to think and act accordingly.  After the location is discovered, the two classrooms have a social exchange of what our classrooms, communities, and environments are like. We need to be knowledgeable about our own state and inquirers into what their state or country have to offer.

We had a few classes participate in the Global Read-Aloud. The teacher running this program simply picks books for every level K-12 and asks teachers to join her Edmodo group to find a connection with other teachers. Last year the students discussed in groups on Edmodo what they thought of the books and also video conferenced with other classrooms who read the same book. Our fifth graders were able to return to school in the evening to communicate with Kuala Lumpur students who had also read the book. The book this year was “Wonder” by Palaccio. The book talks about a student with deformities. Students discussed how a caring student would react with the main character. The students had an exchange about the book and then had time for a social exchange to understand each other’s culture.

On a larger scale, I am eager to have more classrooms participate in a global collaboration project, such as Flat Connections. There is one project for kindergarten through second graders that is called “Building Bridges to Tomorrow”. My 4th graders participate in one called “A Week in the Life”. Both of these projects are created and managed through Flat Connections, which is an organization who believes students from different schools, and countries can come together to collaborate with each other. During these projects, students learn to be open-minded and inquire to their fellow co-students from around the world. If students can see this task as simple and friendly, they will develop into adults who want to connect with others who are not similar to themselves. Flat Connections has projects for all grade levels in K-12.

During the last year, my students made amazing reflections. One class of 2nd graders all wanted to move to Iowa so that they can drive the tractors in the fields at age twelve. This farming community in Iowa opened our students’ eyes up to different experiences. Another group of students connected with a Catholic school in Illinois. When one of our religious students asked how often they studied religion, the Catholic students answered only on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday because on Wednesday they attended Mass. The student was surprised because they only study religion a few days a week. As a librarian, this connected learning is similar to learning from a primary source. The students are learning from each other by discussing their similarities and differences.

As a society we should learn from our past mistakes and make the world a peaceful place. We have a diverse earth where conflict arises when we don’t understand our differences. This past year, I had every classroom from second grade to fifth grade participate in at least one project with a classroom outside of our school. Some of these projects were only communication projects. This year my goal is to have all the students from second through fifth grade participate in a collaboration project.

As the IB model teaches, teachers should inspire students to act about the knowledge they gain during school hours. If that knowledge includes more international students or United States students who are different than them, our students will become more open-minded and reflective. Even at the primary grades, students question how the world works and take action on their knowledge and passions. The Flat Connections group uses the term “Glocalization”, let’s teach globally, but act locally.

Reconnecting with the #globalclassroom

A small explanatory note from @gcporganisers

In early 2011, Deb Frazier (@Deb_Frazier) and Michael Graffin (@mgraffin) co-founded a small “Global Classsroom” project, which ultimately grew into the Global Classroom Project community as we know it today. As happens with many of us, personal circumstances changed, and Deb was sadly unable to participate in the community for several years.

Today, we can finally say “Welcome home!”


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Thank you PLN and #Globalclassroom!  I have shared how much I LOVE my PLN about 5 million times and still I can’t say it enough! I know that I can click on my friendly device and you will be right there ready to share and learn together!  Sure, the members may be different and things went along with or without me, but that IS the beauty of a PLN! We are risk takers, we are collaborators and we are leaders and we are always there or should I say here!

So What Have I Been Doing?

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.35.54 AMWell, I haven’t been far, I am physically in central Ohio, USA but I am only a click away virtually.  I am on twitter  @Deb_Frazier and my class tweets  @Frazier1st . I am still blogging on Primary Perspective  and my class of first graders (age 6-7 yrs) on Behind the Scenes in First Grade . My class and I have been active in connecting our class globally and locally, you can see our global learning here.

 So Now What? 

Well, I am overwhelmed with all that the #globalclassroom has going on, there are so many talented and dedicated professional and students in Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 12.38.57 AMour community! I have been clicking around and I think catching up will take a bit of time.  I will continue to click and get acquainted with all the work here in the #Globalclassroom. In the fall when I meet my new class of first graders, I will let them guide us with their WONDERFUL WONDERS  into the #globalclassroom community!


Designing Learning Experiences to Support Global Habits of Mind (#globalclassroom chats – July 19 & 20, 2014)

CC-NC-BY critical thinking asylum

CC-NC-BY critical thinking asylum

As educators, current 21st century teaching includes designing learning experiences that expose students to real world problems, present learning to an authentic audience, connect to other classrooms and people outside the walls of their school, and also foster skills such as: creativity, curiosity, empathy, resilience and collaboration. Tony Wagner has his own list of Seven Survival Skills and how to close the Global Achievement Gap, if you will. This is a big job … it’s an incredibly huge, yet honorable task we have to tackle!

How are we, like Andrew Miller states, “learning designers” in the global sense? How do the habits of mind (i.e. creativity, curiosity, empathy, resilience and collaboration) play out in globally connecting with other classrooms? What habits of mind are harder to “get to?”

This weekend, we would like to chat about how we foster these habits of mind, and what our list of global survival skills would include.


Questions for our chat:

  1. What habits of mind do you find easiest to teach either directly or indirectly?
  2. Which ones are the hardest? Why?
  3. Do we reflect on these habits of mind collaboratively enough with other classrooms? How can we design experiences to help us do that in a semi-organic way?
  4. What resources help you design experiences that foster the habits of mind?
  5. What is our list of Global Habits of Mind? How do we or can we model this for our students?

Please join our chat whether you participate in global projects or not. We will all learn more together and your voice is important.

If you’d like to join the moderation team for these chats, please tweet @gcporganisers or @HeidiHutchison ASAP. Thanks!


Chat 1 ~ Saturday, July 19th, 10:00 – 11:00 UTC

  • 11:00 London, 12:00 (noon) Cape Town, 15:30 New Delhi, 18:00 Perth, 20:00 Sydney, 22:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.


Chat 2 ~ Saturday, July 19th, 18:00 – 19:00 UTC

  • 11:00 Los Angeles, 14:00 New York, 19:00 London, 20:00 Cape Town, 06:00 SUNDAY – Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.


Chat 3 ~ Sunday, July 20th, 01:00 – 02:00 UTC (Saturday in N & S America!)

  • Saturday night – 18:00 Los Angeles, 21:00 New York
  • Sunday – 06:30 New Delhi, 09:00 Perth, 11:00 Sydney, 13:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

#RSCON5 – Free Global Web Conference July 11-14

Repost from

Join 1000+ teachers online for an inspirting event showcasing “wow” learning worldwide! Featuring 2 plenaries, 60+ presentations, 11 keynotes, panel discussions, tech/app/lessons swaps, and more!

I am looking forward to this weekend’s Reform Symposium Free Web Conference. It will be 3 days packed with learning and inspiration from the educators from around the world. For more information please follow the #RSCON5 hashtag on Twitter and visit The Future of Education page for a complete listing of sessions, presenters, and times.

 I will be doing two sessions plus participating in an app smackdown where I will be talking about Write About This . Here is the information for my sessions:

The Global Classroom Project 

When: Friday July 11, 12:00 pm – 12:30 pm (central time)

Description: Learn how a great idea and a simple tweet turned into a dynamic network of international educators who collaborate and participate in global projects. This session will highlight some of our projects and how you can get involved.

Tech and App Swapalooza

When: Saturday July 12, 9:00 – 10:00 am (central time)

Desription: Anyone can join in with a 2 minute presentation of their favorite app or web tool.

Reduce the Paper! Student-Created Digital Portfolios

When: Saturday July 12, 10:00 – 10:30 am (central time)

Description: Discover how your students can document their learning and thinking while reducing the amount of paper used in your classroom. Learn how students can create digital portfolios using ipad apps and Kidblog.





Reflection Time: Global Projects – The #globalclassroom Chats (June 14/15)

Thank you to Heidi Hutchison @HeidiHutchison who is helping organise the chats this month, and provided our topic:

Creating and participating in global projects has fed my soul, but more importantly, it has nurtured the spirit of my students. I have come away with many positives through collaborating and partaking in global projects, but I have learned more through some failures this year. 

This weekend, we would like to reflect through sharing what worked and what didn’t work for us.

Questions for our chat:

1.)  What positives happened as a result of participating in global projects and connections (via Skype, Google hangouts, blogging, pen pals, etc.) for you and your students?

2.)  What made it difficult to participate in a global project or connection? What are some ideas to make it better?

3.)  What were some things that fell through the cracks for you and why? What did you learn about yourself that could make it better for others?

4.)  What ideas do you have for the upcoming school year? How can we connect with others to help us create and collaborate more effectively?

Please join our chat whether you participated in global projects or not. We will all learn more together and your voice is important!


Chat 1 ~ Saturday, June 14, 10:00 – 11:00 UTC

  • 11:00 London, 12:00 (noon) Cape Town, 15:30 New Delhi, 18:00 Perth, 20:00 Sydney, 22:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 2 ~ Saturday, June 14th, 18:00 – 19:00 UTC

  • 11:00 Los Angeles, 14:00 New York, 19:00 London, 20:00 Cape Town, 06:00 SUNDAY – Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 3 ~ Sunday, June 15th, 01:00 – 02:00 UTC (Saturday in N & S America!)

  • Saturday night – 18:00 Los Angeles, 21:00 New York
  • Sunday – 06:30 New Dehli, 09:00 Perth, 11:00 Sydney, 13:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Growing Up Global – Is it changing our students? – the #globalclassroom Chats (May 10/11)

Thankyou to @beachcat11 who is helping organise the chats this month, and provided our topic.

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other;

they fear each other because they don’t know each other;

they don’t know each other because they can not communicate;

they can not communicate because they are separated.”

~~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


What do you think?

“Global Computer Networking” courtesy of cuteimage /

When I first read these words, I immediately started wondering: Our kids aren’t separated in the same way any more. So will our students’ ability to connect and collaborate on a global scale eventually help to reduce human conflicts and overcome such hate and fear? Will students who regularly communicate and form relationships with students of different cultures and lifestyles become any more tolerant and understanding than those who don’t?

Our students are clearly ‘growing up global’ in a connected world — where those of us in North America regularly chat with others already in “tomorrow”, where inspiring Korean commercials can be viewed on YouTube around the world, and global projects like the Travelling Rhino project see students in classrooms around the world all working to help solve the very same issue.

As educators create and conduct more and more new global activities and projects, and as we invite world-wide student participation and collaboration, what are we learning about the effects they are having on our students’ values and beliefs? Am I just acting on some blind belief or vague assumption that these things are good for my students?? Or is there some solid body of evidence which proves this is true? What can we do to monitor and provide evidence of what is happening as a result of these global connections — if indeed, there even is any change?!?

They say that when the astronauts sent back pictures of that first human view of Earth from space, it forever changed our collective perception of Planet Earth as “Home”. And I have to wonder: like seeing our planet from space for the very first time, will ‘growing up global’ also leave an indelible mark on the human psyche? Will growing up globally connected help to create a new generation who take it for granted that we are all one connected people who must resolve our differences to work and live together as we journey through space and time on this tiny blue planet?

As our population increases and our access to resources decreases, will growing up global and learning in a connected global classroom make any difference at all to the human ability to overcome fear and hate, and to solve problems together?

What can we do to help make it so?

There are no magic answers, no miraculous methods to overcome the problems we face, just the familiar ones:  an honest search for understanding, education, organization, and action …inspired by the hope of a brighter future.

~~Noam Chomsky


Discussion Questions

Please join us as we discuss these issues in our next #globalclassroom chats –  this weekend!

Q1. In what global activities have your and your students participated?

Q2. What did you hope your students would gain from participating in them? Were attitudes and beliefs are an expressed part of your goal?

Q3. Did you observe any evidence of changes in your students’ attitudes and beliefs about different cultures? If so, how?

Q4. As global educators, how can we contribute to the collective knowledge and research about the effects of connected learning?



Chat 1 ~ Saturday, May 10th, 10:00 – 11:00 UTC

  • 11:00 London, 12:00 (noon) Cape Town, 15:30 New Delhi, 18:00 Perth, 20:00 Sydney, 22:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 2 ~ Saturday, May 10th, 18:00 – 19:00 UTC

  • 11:00 Los Angeles, 14:00 New York, 19:00 London, 20:00 Cape Town, 06:00 SUNDAY – Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.

Chat 3 ~ Sunday, May 11th, 01:00 – 02:00 UTC (Saturday in N & S America!)

  • Saturday night – 18:00 Los Angeles, 21:00 New York
  • Sunday – 06:30 New Dehli, 09:00 Perth, 11:00 Sydney, 13:00 Auckland
  • Click here to find out when this is in YOUR timezone.