I have been given the challenge of teaching ICT to prep/ones this year for one lesson per week. Having been part of the Flat Classroom Projects for the past 5 years, I was keen to join in the pilot K-2 Building Bridges project for early years’ students which started in February, 2012.
The key question of this project is:- Can very young students effectively connect, communicate, and collaborate in a global project? Read further aims of this trial project.
Demand to be involved was strong from across the world was strong. Numbers were capped due to its trial nature with 44 schools represented. Here is how it works:-
- A ning is used for networking
- A google group that allows regular updates, questions, issues, discussions etc
- Blackboard Collaborate is used for regular online meetings
- A wikispace featuring our groups, outcomes etc
- Trello for the work flow
- Classes are divided into groups, comprising four different schools, including at least one from another country.
- Each class shares a ‘handshake’ introducing themselves to their group.
- Each group is given a topic to collaborate on. These topics were brainstormed and collaboratively setup at an online meeting. Our group is number 9 and the topic is “Part of a Family”
- Views from our windows – the thoughts are that we create an online book that features “views from our windows” to show the diversity of our locations etc. Discussion is centring around what this means, but it could include anything that represents our school, neighborhood, city/town that reflects some of our similarities/differences or maybe how geography impacts where we live.
- The next step is to work on our collaborative group topic.
A voicethread was used for our handshake. Most of my students used MS Paint to draw an avatar. This was cropped, saved as a jpg and uploaded onto a voicethread. Year 7 and 9 students helped the young ones record “What I like!” as an audio file to their avatar. The voicethread was shared by grabbing the code and embedding it on the wiki. There were a great variety of handshakes, many really creative and innovative. Each school has shared their handshake on the bottom of their group wikipage.
Here are some creative handshakes
- A puzzle of students by Mrs Jolley’s class. This involved the use jigsaw planet, diigo and google docs
- A handshake by Ms Tong’s class in China, using the iPad app ‘Puppet Pals’ Introducing Ourselves where students tell their names and favourite place in China.
Highlights of being involved:-
- Working with a team of like minded teachers
- Having a global support group when I am new at teaching this age group.
- Witnessing the enthusiasm, creativity and innovativeness of teachers of the young, where there tends to be greater flexibility with the curriculum.
- Noting that my students cope well with the nature of the project. They are really engaged watching the other handshakes and using the different media involved.
- The teachable moments that arise – where is this country, why does that child speak differently, why do their locations look different etc
- The extension activities that occur. eg Once our voicethread went up, an email was received from one of our partner schools in the USA, asking us so many questions about Australia. They had researched so much about Australia. They had lots of questions of us eg re our unique animals, the aborigines etc As my time is limited with the classes, the classroom teachers will now also need to get involved.
- Mentoring, sharing and teaching each other our favourite online tools.
- Learning, learning always learning
- But……. Best of all there are so many ideas coming from so many people, from so many countries, that we push the innovation and creativity beyond our own personal ability and act as one ‘collective and digital brain’, advancing learning further.
What do you think? Can the young collaborate on a global scale? What questions do you have? This post was written as part of my role asInnovator of the Month. Please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org