School is out or almost out for most of you. The long, hot days have arrived, and summer vacation is finally here. Now that teachers have put an end to their school year, it’s time to kick back and think — where will I go this summer? The great news is that through many different collaboration opportunities combined with the power of technology, you can literally go anywhere! Both you and your students can develop a better understanding of different perspectives and cultures, improve communication skills, and find ways to have a global impact. Flattening your classroom allows you to engage with your global community all from the comfort of your lounge chair using a variety of powerful technology tools.
So how do you get your feet wet if you’re not at the beach? For starters, you need to consider:
What is your passion and purpose?
When developing a plan for a global collaboration project, it’s important to consider why you are doing this in the first place. Teachers don’t need “one more thing,” they need a learning opportunity that integrates several skills, a variety of entry points, and something that is of interest to students. Are you studying George Washington? Why not take a virtual field trip to Mount Vernon! Are you wanting to connect with readers from around the world to understand different perspectives? You can join the Global Read Aloud. Ultimately, the more passionate you and your students are about a topic, the more naturally this global collaboration will fit into your day.
What is your instructional purpose?
Once you’ve found your purpose, it’s time to narrow down your focus. While many global collaboration projects teach a variety of skills and concepts, it’s best to narrow down your project to one content area with a definitive timeline. Some projects like Exploring by the Seat of your Pants are specifically targeted to a content area, like science. However others like PenPal Schools provide connections and lessons for a variety of topics from Chinese to money management. Just like your summer vacation plans, you should narrow your itinerary before heading off.
What technology should you consider?
While technology is often what allows your classroom walls to come down, it can also be a barrier for many teachers. To plan ahead, you should consider what type of access students will have as this may have an impact on your overall timeline. Things like time zones, access to internet, and access to devices can be a great conversation with students that will help include them with your own planning. In addition, you should plan to prepare your students for online communication with a variety of audiences. This may mean focusing on certain elements of digital citizenship like relationships & communication as well as digital footprints.
How will your lesson stay student-centered?
Up until now, it may feel like you, the teacher, are doing a lot of behind the scenes work to make these global learning opportunities happen. To get true buy-in from your students, consider how they will have choice in the project. Some projects like Out of Eden Learn are focused on having students choose different ways to share their stories and perspectives while others have the sole purpose of encouraging student creativity like International Dot Day. Creating elements of students voice, choice, and self-assessment are key elements of global collaboration.
How do I need to prepare?
Last but not least, trying a new project like this can be exciting but overwhelming all at once. Luckily, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of teachers throughout the world that can help support your project. Other great resources from organizations like the Global Education Conference, the Asia Society’s Center for Global Education, and ISTE’s Global Collaboration Network are also available as you begin planning your journey.
Reaching out across the globe and traveling to collaborate with other students and teachers throughout the world has never been any easier. With thoughtful integration and preparation, your learning journey is just getting started. Get ready to pack your bags, there’s no place your classroom won’t go!
Formerly an elementary teacher in the Denver, Colorado area, Ming Scheid has since served as an Educational Technology Specialist, an instructor at the community college level, and a Coordinator of Curriculum and Standards. She uses knowledge from her Master’s Degree in Learning and Technology as a professional learning developer with expertise in instructional design, Digital Citizenship, and Student Data Privacy. In addition to coaching schools as they roll out 1:1 initiatives, Ming is a Google Certified Trainer, an Apple Certified Teacher, a Common Sense Educator, and has completed the EdTechTeam’s Teacher Leadership Certifications.
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