Category Archives: global classroom

Independence Day India – Friday August 15th

A skype message alerted me to the fact that it was Independence Day in India.


It came from my good online friend, Sebastian Panakal and he asked:-

When may I call you? Today is Indian Independence Day and I would like to celebrate it together with you and your students, share my happiness with you

sebastian and quill earingsWishing that I had a class of middle school students whom I could connect him with, I in fact had a VCE accounting at that time (which is a subject not so easy to interrupt, due to the tight curriculum timeline). Wanting to make the most of this opportunity, I  asked whether he might wait until the last 5 mins of that class for us to connect. The students were rather shy about greeting Sebastian, but they soon rallied around and wished him a “Happy Independence Day”. In turn, Sebastian showed us the beautiful paper quill earings that his wife had made in the tri-colours of their national flag. They were to be distributed to local school girls.

 We learnt that India celebrated it as s a public holiday. Schools, clubs and associations celebrate by hosting the National Flag  (flag:in) and distribute sweets. Thereafter they sing, dance, party etc. Schools have the same fun and frolic, but a march past in the morning.

Sebastian was hoping to connect with as many of his virtual global friends to share this Independence Day. You can see his linkup with another online colleague, Katherine Zablatnik from Austria.From this linkup, Sebastian shared the following statement:-

As I shared my happiness on Indian Independence Day, an opportunity for promoting Health Tourism evolved.

As I hung up on skype, one of Sebastian’s friends also called me. As I was speaking to him, his mobile phone rang. Fascinated, I was party to a conversation in an Indian dialect as he quickly dealt with the phone call.. Not understanding a word of it, I still felt part of the connection!

Sebastian's friend

Does it matter that we interrupt senior classes for short connections like this, running the risk of falling behind the curriculum. Not at all in my opinion. Students are highly interested in what happens in other countries, they develop confidence in themselves and their communication ability and left my class in a happy frame of mind. Thank you Sebastian for saying hello to us on this day and sharing your celebrations!

International Friendship Day

Collage of Brendahs class

Collage of Brendahs class

Today is a celebration of International Friendship Day. Such a day becomes more meaningful the more globally connected we get. Having online global friends helps develop empathy for different cultures, ideas, religions, spaces we live in, conditions we live under etc. Misunderstanding leads to racism, friction and conflict.

My good friend, Sebastian Panakal from Kerala India was going to link up his students with mine today to do an international wave. But, the school was unable to connect. As Sebastian stated:

The school has postponed World Friendship Day Celebration ( and the Skype wave to your students) on 30th July due to Ramadan Holidays. Unfortunately MOON on this day came a bit late and the Ramadan prayer had to be rescheduled..

Immediately, my class is getting a sense of a different religion, the importance of this festival to Islamic people etc without connecting formally.

At night, a request came over the HLW skype group from Brendah of Port Elizabeth, East Cape, South Africa, for someone to speak to her grade 4 class about subsistence and commercial farming in their country. As I live on a farm, it was of personal interest to me. 29 students from her class, with names that I could never have pronounced, participated in the skype linkup with me and had to work out what country I was from, then ask questions on farming. They all spoke their native tongue, learnt in English at school but also learnt Afrikaans at school.

To complete the linkup, they sang with great rhythm and passion, a song that nearly brought tears to my eyes. There was a time ….

What does International Friendship Day mean to you? How did you celebrate it?



Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding


Image source

Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding can provide an understanding of your classroom, community, country, culture, ideals, experiences and learning within and beyond the classroom. Before I connect with others, I want to know more about them – are they genuine, who are they, what are they about, do I want to maintain contact etc?  Therefore, I look for their blog or other online space for more information. This becomes important as we become more globally connected.

Blogging is an essential, user friendly, online space that teachers and classrooms should use as it offers a rich learning space and enables ongoing conversations through comments. It enables customized learning. Starting and Sustaining a Blog for Global Understanding was one of my workshops for “Supporting the Challenge” at the recent Flat Connections Conference in Sydney. See the actual presentation below and read further for my notes on this presentation. A resources document has been set up. Please add to it, if you have suggestions.

Some of the popular blogging platforms include edublogs, wordpress, blogger, kidblog. My personal preference is for edublogs (the pro version or a campus) as they provide ready advice, offer some great support materials and online resources and enable the use of multi-media which is essential for global understanding when language differences may be a challenge. Edublogs pro also allow movies and podcasts to be directly uploaded without the need to embed code from eg youtube, vimeo etc.

To get started a blogger will need to understand the nature of posts, pages, links, widgets, hyperlinks, categories tags and the necessity for an “about me or us” page (an essential ‘handshake’ to foster initial interest and encourage ongoing connections and reading)


Comments enable ongoing conversations, provide a base for discussion and enable ongoing learning. Readers can ask questions, seek clarification and share their own knowledge and resources. A blogger needs to know what ‘good’ comments look like and how to moderate them.


Embed media including sound, images and videos wherever possible to supplement or replace text. Images ‘speak 1000 words’ and where languages may not be the same, will show and share so much to provide for global understanding. Stories can be shared in images, videos, sound stories and animated slideshows. Youtube and vimeo videos can be embedded to reflect where you live and learn or links to videos provided.

Widgets for global understanding

Following are some widgts that could be added to theblog  sidebar

  • Clustrmaps, flagcounters to motivate and show the location of readers. They can be used to also teach statistics, the location of countries and the flags of different countries
  • Clocks – eg clocklink provides learning re time zones, days and dates. A countdown clock eg Countdown  or Create a Countdown will alert to upcoming cultural and religious festivals, school holidays etc. A time convertor eg world time buddy will help with the ever challenging time zone differences.
  • Weather – eg willy weather or weather add gadget provide a  global perspective on weather conditions
  • Translate widgets – google, bing to allow posts to be interpreted across languages. Learn how to translate blogs even when widgets are not present
  • Flickr – eg flickr slidr will show the latest photos shared on flickr on the sidebar showing what it looks like in your classroom, community or country
  • A blogroll can share blogs that your classroom might be connected to or that might be of interest from global classrooms, communities or teachers
  • Twitter – enables a feed of tweets to be shared
  • World news widgets eg reuters

Some advanced features

  • Embed the code from powerpoint presentations that have been uploaded to slideshare.
  • Vokis – can be used to introduce yourself in your native language
  • Embed google maps complete with pins that share global collaborations, images and explanations in text. See Skippy’s blog post (manouvre it till you see her pins)

Consider the following:

  • The use of mobile apps for blogging on the ‘fly’ or quickly sharing images, podcasts and videos
  • Choosing a theme that suits mobile reading
  • Taking part in the student blogging challengeJoining a quadblogging group
  • Some countries may block blogging sites


  • Post regularly
  • Read other blogs
  • Comment on others’ blog posts
  • Share new posts on social media eg twitter, facebook etc Use global hashtags eg #globalclassroom #globaled etc
  • Let your blog take direction over time

Useful resources from Edublogs

What suggestions might you have to add to this topic? Please add as a comment below this post.

Happy New Year to my Chinese friends!

gong xi fa cai 恭喜发财

May You Be Prosperous! May You Earn A Lot Of Money! May you Obtain A Fortune! (used as a greeting at Chinese Spring Festival or Chinese new year)

year of the horse1

Chinese New Year is a special time of year as our school teaches mandarin Chinese as its second language. It is also special to me as I have some very close online and face to face colleagues who are Chinese. One such colleague is Veronica Woo who I have e-worked with over the last 5 years or so. (See cultural eLearning adventures). Veronica teaches in a Chinese school in Malaysia - SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh.

So much of a culture, language, geography and backgrounds can be learned in real time using technology to connect with those who live in other countries….. but nothing beats travel, actually visiting the country and meeting face to face online colleagues. As such my husband and I have visited Malaysia and met Veronica and travelled with her around Ipoh and Penang. To our delight, Veronica and her niece came to visit us, stayed on our farm and vistied my school in December last year.

xhiao wen and veronica

A large parcel  was discovered in our roadside mailbox yesterday. It was full of gifts, cards and red packets or ‘ang pau’ for family and students at school to celebrate  the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse in 2014. There were decorations, photos, Tshirts,  cushion covers, a  horse and much more!


With pride, I took the cards and gifts to school, distributed them to students and  adorned our front office proudly with the decorations acknowledging our association with the Chinese people!  Students were excited to open up their cards and find their laminated photos and of course my grandchildren loved the gifts and cards too.

A snap decision was made to decorate our office window and foyer with Chinese decorations to share this festival with staff, students and community members.


office and lanterns

Festivals are a time for celebrating with families. Thanks Veronica for making the new year special to us at Hawkesdale and Happy New Year to you and all my Chinese friends.

Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? If so how? Melbourne (my state capital city) celebrates Chinese New Year. Veronica has suggested that the following movie is viewed:-

The Reunion Dinner (回家過年) is a 15 minute short movie written and
directed by Anthony Chen (導演: 陳哲藝) who just won the Golden Horse 2013
Best New Director (第五十屆金馬獎最佳新導演).A simple yet superb film that will surely touch your heart:
The Reunion Dinner 回家過年by Anthony Chen 陳哲藝@

Two other youtube videos suggested by Veronica Woo for the staff and students to watch:-

A site for Chinese phrases

The Global Education Conference – a personal involvement

This is the third year of the Global Education Conference – one of the most amazing conferences – all online, free and open to the world to participate in. Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray are the co-founders of the innovative concept.

You must make the time to attend at least one session. You should also join the ning and participate in the chat as there are many educators from many countries – all wanting to converse, meet each other  and learn from and with each other.  Last night I was in the chat with a teacher from USA, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Australia and many others – amazing! Take a good look through the  schedule for the conference and choose sessions that suit your time or interests or take a punt and just go to any of them. There are still three  days of sessions to enjoy. Follow the hashtag on twitter or other social networking sites #globaled13

Following are some useful links for best use of the conference

I am proud to be able to either present or co-present for the following sessions. Please join me if you can and push global education to the fore

  1. Where do we get started with Global Projects Link to recording
  2. Teaching and Learning Across the Globe with Lorraine Leo Link to recording
  3. Keynote: The World is my Classroom Link to recording
  4. Stories from Hello Little World Skypers (HLW skypers) Link to the recording
  5. World Museum Scratch Projects Friday, November 22, 23:00 GMT Presented by: Prof. José Manuel Sáez López, Prof Yoshiro Miyata, Lorraine Leo Link to the recordin

Following is The World is My Classroom keynote presentation

Other sessions that I have a personal interest or passion for:

  • Work with What You Have Tuesday November 20 at 2:00 GMTPresented by: Louise Morgan Link to recording
  • “Window to the World” – a path for the school of the future Friday, November 22, 13:00 GMT Presented by: Effie Kyrikakis Link to Recording
  • Global Classroom 2013-14 Stories & Project Launch Friday. November 22 at 11:00 GMT Presented by: Michael Graffin Link to Recording Repeat session: Saturday, Nov 23 at 20:00 GMT co-moderated by @warwicklanguage and @mrsmorgansclass Link to session
  • A Glimpse Into The Life of a Connected EFL Teacher Friday, November 22 at 9:00gmt Presented: Tatyana Chernaya Link to recording 
  • The Connected Educator in Progress A Beginner’s JourneyThursday, November 21 at 12:00 GMT Presented by: Maria Colussa Link to recording

Are you presenting? What is your topic? What sessions will you attend? What sessions will you recommend?

24 hours in the Life of a Connected Educator

Please note that this post is cross-posted aSmartBlog on Education

A virtual classroom of engaged students

A virtual classroom of engaged students

As it is connected educator month, it is interesting to take note of what life can be like in 24 hours as a connected educator! Following are the sequence of events one 24 hour period last week!

6:30am Perused my emails – mostly content sent whilst the rest of the world was awake. Responded to the most pressing emails. Checked  twitter for any interesting updates, especially those tweets directed to me. Checked for any comments to moderate on my blog posts and respond to them, enabling further conversations and connections. Looked at the day’s statistics. (It is always motivating to know that people may have read posts or that keyword searches have found my blog posts. The search terms added give an idea for further posts that may be of interest to many.)

7:30am Last minute preparations for the day’s classes

8:15am Depart for school, turn on laptop proxy settings and check for any skype group updates

9am       Coach a potential moderator online,  in the use of Blackboard Collaborate (virtual classroom software. Our Education Department provides teachers with a statewide license for PD, meeting and classroom use.)

11am     Activated the school polycom videoconferencing equipment to connect with a teaching colleague in Melbourne  who was with the executive committee of  Parents Victoria.  We demonstrated the potential it has for effective and easy connections via high quality videoconferencing. Discussed various uses of this equipment and other  tools  may have for connecting  eg bringing statewide parents in to virtual meetings from their homes, virtual parent/teacher/school  information evenings, virtual school assemblies

1pm       Noted the emailed link to the virtual room for my year 8 ICT class linkup with Gio and Port Phillip EcoCentre. Gio, a year 11 student in Melbourne, is to share his work on the Nest Box Forum with my students. My class is to be a champion class for Gio to learn how to make effective use of blackboard collaborate as a teaching/learning tool. My students will have the chance to interact with Gio, learning netiquette and appropriate online behaviour and finding answers to their curiosity.

2pm       Year 8 students individually logon and enter the virtual room. Surprisingly, Gio was not there yet. An email alerted us to the problems they were having with their technology back in Melbourne. While we waited, students drew pictures on the whiteboard to share something of where we live. Wondering how long this would keep them engaged, I tried to think of a plan B. However, a skype pop-up window, alerted me to  a request from Lin-lin in Taiwan, looking  for a class to do a mystery skype with her students now!  Thinking this could be a life saver, I immediately said we would – at least until Gio was able to connect with us. Just as I set up skype to display on a bigger monitor, Gio appeared. Not wanting to offend either party, I got two girls to take my laptop in to the backroom to do the mystery skype with the Taiwanese school, allowing me to work with the majority of students. I fleetingly and periodically checked on the two girls, but they seemed to be able to make themselves understood, looked like they were having fun as they communicated and connected, using the chat when there was misunderstanding with the spoken language. At one stage the Taiwanese class could be heard singing a song to the girls. Meanwhile my main class was highly engaged listening to and learning of the bats, possums and birds that used the nesting boxes.  Gio shared some delightful images with them on the whiteboard.

Two countries,two cultures, two languages learn over skype

Two countries,two cultures, two languages learn over skype

3:45pm Staff meeting. Got a viber alert on my ipad  –  a new healthy granddaughter, was just  born in Johannesburg, Sth Africa!

8pm       Checked emails, skype updates, viber messages, twitter feed and wrote a blog post  An Unpredictable Class to share the impact of connectedness!

What does your typical ‘connected’ day involve?  How important is it for educators to be connected? What impact has being connected had on your teaching/learning?

Global Stories through Book Trailers


Book Trailers tempt viewers to read the book that is featured in the digital movie. Creating book trailers with students from other countries and cultures can provide a fascinating insight in to their cultures.

Our students were part of an exciting partnership with the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2011 and two schools in Malaysia. Another school from Bulgaria added some of their existing material. A learning activity for creating book trailers with global students follows.

recomend to people who do not like reading

Global Student, Global Stories

(This makes a great follow up to mystery skype connections or other regular classroom contacts over skype.)

Students from several schools create book trailers (digital movies that inspire viewers to read the book featured). The trailers are published online for sharing and global viewing .

The essential learning:-

Students will learn about favourite books of students in other countries. They will collaborate and share stories through the use of computer software and online tools including MS Powerpoint, Photostory, MS Live Movie Maker and a shared online space. See our globalstorytelling wiki. Students learn about the different cultures and more of their own culture. Students will learn netiquette, digital citizenship, virtual communication, privacy and plagiarism through experience. Students will experience real deadlines for their work.


  • Access to computers and software including MS Powerpoint, Moviemaker and/or Photostory.
  • Communicate with the school leadership team and the parents to ensure that all are informed of the intentions and the outcomes.
  • Permission forms (if required)


  • Find other global partners willing to participate. This could be done through the community at MS Partners for Learning or through the Mystery Skype group.
  • Create a teacher skype group for 24/7 conversations, planning the activity collaboratively, sharing problems, technical issues and discussing the outcomes and the collaborative online space.
  • If the classes share similar time zones, regular linkups could be part of the interactive, global approach.

Class requirements

  • Computer access for students
  • Cameras/video cameras/
  • Paper or collaborative documents for brainstorming
  • Sample book trailers (there are many to be found online)

Getting Started

  • Discuss the nature of and reason for book trailers.
  • View existing book trailers online.
  • Brainstorm as a class potential books and the nature of the outcomes.
  • Discuss possible cultural sensitivities, netiquette and digital citizenship
  • Talk about privacy, copyright and plagiarism
  • Ensure students are skilled  in the use of tools such as MS Photostory, PowerPoint, MovieMaker and MS Paint. Teachers who are not confident in these skills could skype in an expert or one of the global partners to teach the class
  • Teach students how to publish their movies and upload to an online space

Developing the book trailers

  • Students create their design or storyline in PowerPoint.
  • Students share design with teacher before commencing.
  • An online collaborative space should  be created by an expert teacher– the space should  allow discussions, school pages, individual student pages, links to resources and the use of a variety of media ie movies, images etc See our Globalstorytelling site  as an example
  • Students introduce themselves by adding an appropriate profile sharing interests on the online space. Add appropriate images to show what it looks like where they live. See sample student pages Rachael ( and Georgia (
  • Students/teachers use the discussion tab for interaction, questions and feedback
  • Student blogs can be used to journalise the learning and should be added as link on their page.

Publishing the trailers

  • Completed Trailers are published, uploaded to youtube, vimeo or other space and embedded in the appropriate student page.


  • Arrange a virtual book trailer premiere. Classes linkup over skype, share screens and watch selected completed book trailers. Invite the parents along.
  • Provide certificates to be handed out virtually by the partner global teacher
  • Setup a student summit where the global classes share the learning.
  • Partner with the relevant Writers Festival in the state or country and suggest to  be part of their annual festivals, bringing in your partner schools virtually where possible. (Students in our school went to Melbourne for the Melbourne Writers Festival and shared their learning on the big stage and screen at Federation Square. The Malaysian students were videoconferenced in through skype and shared their movies and learning virtually. See
  • Promote and share the work of your students with others – tweet out links, promote through blogs, educational facebook pages and other social networking sites.


  • If the books are in the school library add qr codes to the book. Other students can scan the code and be taken to the created book trailers online so that they can see whether they want to read them.
  • Buy some books featured by students in the partner global school(s) and add to the school library.
  • Commence a virtual book club between the schools.

Watch how this was done on Global Stories through Book Trailers and see student reflections on their involvement from both countries.

International Peace Day 2013 through the eyes of the Young!

International Peace Day is today and is one of global significance.

Year 3/4 ICT class have shared what peace means to them by creating images. These have been put on the presentation below together with some of their quotes. Their ideas varied and were often different to mine. At times, I started to advise them, then thought ‘no’, they are young, they see the world in a different light, from a different perspective and limited experience.  One student sees peace as colourful. I see peace as the opposite to war and war is epitomized as black and white colours in my mind.

Some further activities participated in.

    1.  took part in a google hangout and shared their views with the globe.
    2. some students added their feelings about peace onto Tatyana Chernaya’s peace wall. Why don’t you and your students add to this wonderful wall?

Today, Steve Sherman organised a hangout with Ena Hewitt, who had fascinating experiences to share of her family’s time living in a shack in the township in Mamelodi, South Africa. One of her quotes was quite powerful. She had taken peanut cookies to a lady who lived in the township which kick started the notion of living in the township for a month. Ena said “What are your peanut cookie moments? What can you do to build bridges rather than build walls?”

However, this post will finish with a quote from one of my young year 3 students, Nadia:

I think peace means hope, joyful and means no arguing. I also think it is great to have a special peace day and to enjoy yourself on this special day.

What did you do for International Peace Day? What can you share with us?

Starting a School Year in a Global Manner!

The German Science Class

The German Science Class

On Thursday evening, my online colleague Reinhard Marx invited me to his first day with a year 7 Science class at  Staedtische Realschule Sundern, to say hello for the new school year in Germany. What a great idea! Giving students a global introduction from day one and providing them with a glimpse that this is to be no ordinary classroom.

It was a brief skype videoconference call, where those students who wished to, came up and introduced themselves to me and shared conversations. My question generally required a simple answer, as English is not their first language.  It was “Where did you go for the holidays?”. The answers really interested me as I love travelling and two students had actually been to Greece from where I have just come.

Why do this?

  • immediately introduces them to the global classroom where learning can take place and be shared, beyond classroom walls.
  • introduces students to new ways of communication in this 21st century – videoconferencing using tools such as skype – a popular communication and connection tool and increasingly used in the workplace.
  • exposes students to different accents and ways of talking
  • pushes them beyond their comfort zone – it is never easy initially speaking to someone from another country and place
  • encourages them to communicate effectively and articulately
  • shows them that they may need to use both text chat and audio to ensure names are understood and the actual conversation
  • exposes them to different countries, cultures and time zones
  • provides me with an opportunity to introduce myself and encourage ongoing connections for further teaching and learning.
  • accentuates the differing nature of the world – my classes are nearly finished term 3 of four terms of the current school year compared to their new school year.
A student introduces herself to me

A student introduces herself to me

Thanks Reinhard for allowing me the opportunity to welcome them to their new school year. All the best! Have you had the opportunity to welcome students to their school year? Do you think that this is a good idea?

Meet two amazing students!

Ajay and Lija return to the village

Ajay and Lija return to the village

On Friday July 12th, I read this skype message from my good colleague Sebastian Panakal, of Kerala India.

I have Ajay and Lija beside me. Do you have a couple of minutes to say hello to them? I am training them on Skype

Fortunately, I was online and able to videoconference with two amazing students, whilst they had a rain holiday. This was an intriguing name for a holiday and a topic of conversation in itself! I discovered that rain had flooded their poor school. It was only after the videoconference had finished that I realised how special these students.

What I learnt from them

We asked questions of each other and used the chat when necessary due to my ‘flakey’ internet access. I learnt that there are 888 students in their school and 47 students in their class. Forgetting the time zone differences, I asked what they had for lunch only to be told that it was too early for lunch. However, they had idlis for breakfast.  I also discovered how many were in their family, their favourite subjects, their favourite TV program – Kodeeswaran and their favourite books. The books really stunned me! Lija’s favourite book was A Brief History of Time, Hawkins and Ajay’s was My Experiments with Truth, Gandhi! Such mature taste!

Whilst talking, Sebastian added a link in the chat . When the videoconference ended, I looked at the link A Global Salute to Lija Mary and Ajay George and  then discovered how special these two students were. They had won an award on their favourite TV show Kodeeswaran – Thew Show conducted by Asianet . Following are some excerpts from the post:-

Lija Mary and Ajay George are from very poor families in a undeveloped hamlet, Thankey. Mostly Catholics, they are very pious. Parents have little or no education. Dependent on fishing, they suffer most due to over-fishing. Angry waves lash on the very walls of their houses and homes. Monsoons drown them. Summers dry them. Most of the malnourished children, go to school as lunch is given free to them by school authorities……..

Braving poverty, these two students won a very stiff competition with wealthy schools and well of students. Their winning advantage? Awesome teachers and loving families.

See Lija and Ajay on Kodeeswaran, receiving their award. I know that they would love to receive some comments from others!  See also We are Proud of You

Congratulations Ajay and Lija. May you continue to succeed, bring further support to your school and village and break the cycle of poverty.  Looking forward to skyping with you again some time soon.