Making Sense of the World

Starting at the end of November, Lisa Parisi and Donna Román will be launching a new global project called Making Sense of the World.  This project, designed for classes with children in the 8-12 age range, will entail collecting data for comparison.  We will begin with simple data, such as temperature, daylight hours, population, and move toward more detailed data, such as, favorite books, religions practiced, languages spoken.  Imagine what the children will learn about each other and themselves by comparing this data.  
We are looking for classes from all around the world.  Please do not let lack of English stop you from signing up.  We will work out the language differences with translators.  And we will help with any technology questions you might have.
Sign up now.  The fun is about to begin!  The website can be found here:  Making Sense of the World

Connect to the World Through Blogging


If you haven’t considered blogging with your students, now’s the time! It’s a wonderful way to connect with the world through writing, reading, and responding. You can blog along with any of the Global Classroom projects to enhance learning and collaboration.

I’ve taught fifth grade for the past 14 years, I have never found a more powerful approach to teaching writing than blogging. It creates an authentic audience, and kids actually want to write. I have an easy step by step guide to starting off on a good foot.

Click the title in blue below for a more detailed explanation with resources.


1. Make paper blogs to teach blogging. Here’s the lesson plan:
Paper Blogs: McTeach lesson

2.  7 Random Facts About Me To teach what information can be on a public space, and what can not.

3. Establish Blogging Guidelines.

4. Quality Comments

5. Start with small assignments

6. International Dot Day: How will you make a difference in the world?

7. Include parents

8. Connect with a couple of classrooms

9.Let them explore with color and style to personalize their blog site

10.Don’t grade! At least not at first.

11.Blog at least weekly                                                                                                         

12.Be Patient

Here’s a great article about the State of Blogging:


There are more resources linked here.

iEARN is 25! And Teddy Bears are in the Front!

Maple in Taiwan from mali bickley on Vimeo.

Although we have participated in iEARN projects before, for the first time a Kindergarten class in our school, Mill Creek Elementary in Geneva, IL, USA, participated in the Teddy Bear Project through iEARN. It’s been great hearing about their exchange with Wen Ya Elementary in Taiwan. Although we were not part of this video or the iEARN post linked below, we loved seeing all of those happy students!

iEARN. What a great organization. There are many global collaborative education organizations out there now, but iEARN…well, they were the true cutting edge for us all. They have only become stronger in their numbers, larger in their geographic reach and curriculum scope, and more influential during their 25 years. Lucky for all of us, they have retained all of their professional generosity, humanity and incredible inclusiveness. They are true leaders in every possible way. Happy 25th iEARN! I’m proud to be among your many admirers and participant teachers.

Take a look at David Potter’s iEARN’s post about the Teddy Bear Project. It is really fun.

You’ve Found a Global Project. Now What?

There are so many great organizations and global collaborative project options, so just jump in! Once you get your feet wet and figure out the terrain, it’s time to make global projects work for you by specifically addressing your curriculum. You’ve opened up your classroom to the world to allow your students to connect and learn with kids all over, but curriculum standards are different around the world. It is easy to make the project not only collaborative, but also individual to suit your needs.


I’ll take a project my class finished recently to demonstrate how to tailor a project to fit your own needs. Using Data to Understand the World was a collaborative project between Illinois, Alaska, Taiwan, Canada, Costa Rica, Ireland, and Australia.  It spanned grades 3-6. On the surface, it was a project to compare geography throughout the world by tracking data (temperature, precipitation and sunlight), and then discussing topics (animals, plants, and land forms). Each participating teacher agreed to provide the data and to participate in a conversation between classes. I could have left it there, but I used the project as a backbone to integrate my 5th grade curriculum.

In our district, the 5th grade curriculum includes:

  1. Ecosystems (Science)
  2. Compare and Contrast writing (Language Arts)
  3. Informational writing (Language Arts)
  4. Data and graphing (math)
  5. Culture (Social Studies)

So to address those things, I included these aspects:

  1.  Ecosystems: I used my science text-book as we worked. Then I assigned deeper investigative research on the relationship between sunlight, location to the equator, hemispheres, and the ecosystem.
  2. Compare and Contrast writing: Students chose two countries to compare and contrast animals and discussed how geographical location effected animal population.
  3. Informational writing: Students chose a country’s plant posting and wrote an informational piece after researching.
  4. Data and graphing: We used the data from around the world each month to graph and chart. We learned about mean, median, mode while comparing the counties and relating that to distance from the equator. I used my math book to teach these lessons while we worked.
  5. Culture: throughout the project, we discussed culture as we Skyped, discussed, interacted with kids and teachers.


In addition, we used as a place for students to interact directly. I taught digital and global citizenship, collaboration, and technology while we worked online.  Schools participated on different levels and to different degrees, so I used that to frame my collaborative connections.


I chose Using Data to Understand the World in this example, but this can be done with any global project. So far this  year, we have worked with iEARN and Flat Classroom, and through This individualization can be done with any project, so start small. Also, take advantage of the other teachers out there. Educators that are online in global projects are  there to mentor and help as well. There is an amazing network of teachers online that welcome questions with open arms, so don’t be shy! Professional generosity is abundant. Jump in!

Here are some great places to start:

The Global Classroom


Flat Classroom



Look Out World! Here we come!

Wow! What an incredible year we’ve had with our global projects! We are heading full steam into winter with a couple new ones. The students in Scoil Iosaif Naofa Kinvara, Co Galway, Ireland are our partners in learning about an amazing man named Francis O’Neill. Coming from Ireland in the height of the Great Potato Famine to  Chicago, IL (very near to us), and ultimately becoming the Chief of the Chicago Police Department, as well a well-known and respected musician and collector of Irish Folk music, his life is full of rich history. We are learning lots about geography, world history, United States immigration and culture. We met our partners on Skype last week and we are off  to a great start. Please check our wiki out!

And then there are eagles. Two eagles in particular, Liberty and Justice. By watching them on webcam, and researching collaboratively with partners in Iowa, North Carolina, Canada, and The Netherlands, we are becoming experts in habitat, lifespan, symbolism, protected species laws, anatomy, and other birds of prey. There is so much to learn from one bird that is admired worldwide.  As we went on the webcam today, we saw that Liberty had laid an egg! You can find that project here. This is a Flat Classroom® project.

Lastly, our day takes us to fantasy. No, not daydreaming during math, but actually studying the elements of fantasy writing with Mrs. Parisi’s class in Long Island, NY. After we finish reading The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe and discussing the elements, we will be writing fantasy stories collaboratively with a partner across the county. Follow along as we learn!

Hearing the kids complaining about having to leave their work as they lined up for recess today was music to my ears.

Written by Donna Roman, 5th grade teacher:

Meeting our partners in Ireland.

Meeting our partners in Ireland.

Our Irish parteners meeting us.

Our Irish parteners meeting us.

Discovering an egg in Liberty and Justice's nest!

Discovering an egg in Liberty and Justice’s nest!