Maria Jose Giavedoni is an amazing educator from Santa Fe, Argentina – always willing to mentor and teach and eager to share her culture and customs. Fom Dec 9th on, she provided the opportunity to connect with her to learn of the Christmas celebrations and customs in Argentina.
As formal classes have finished in our school, we run an alternative program in the last 1.5 weeks of school. Finding suitable times is hard for us as our time zone does not always work. As I had a class at 9am my time on Monday Dec 7th I asked whether we could connect then. It would be Sunday night at 7am for Maria. However, she explained that she only puts up the decorations on Dec 8th, the traditional date for doing so in Argentina. Disappointed, I thought that we would not be able to do it until I saw that I had a class for Coding at 9am on Friday morning. Maria said it suited her.
At 9:10am using Skype, we rang Maria and were immediatley transported into an environment full of wonderful Christmas decorations and treasures. She showed us a Powerpoint presentation outlining the special dates of Christmas, their food and other celebrations. The slides were colourful, engaging animations on the slides, and English text. This helped students get used to her strong Spanish accent and ensured that they understood it right from the begiining.
Then we were taken on a walkthrough her living room. There were so many different decorations in all sorts of places. It was fascinating. Many were similar to what we have in Australia and some were different. Due to safety concerns there are no lights or decorations outside, unlike Australia who often put out many lights and large decorations outside. Their trees are artificial as there are so few real trees growing in Santa Fe and Argentina. Many of our Australian homes still have a real Christmas tree. As Maria has spent time in remote learning for much of the year, she has hand made more decorations. As our school has a large Christmas tree in the front office, three girls walked the laptop up to it and showed Maria. They also took her to the prep-3 classrooms to show some of their decorations.
It was uncanny that at the same time another class had the opportunity to make Christmas decorations. So, it was combined with my Coding class for the first 45 mins. After Maria’s presentation, the students made decorations. Photos were sent to Maria to show what they had done.
What an amazing class! There is still something almost unbelievable and amazing about being able to visit each other globally in the spaces where we live and learn from each other.
It was the second last week of our school year and I had received a request from a teacher in southern California to connect with one of my classes. To my surprise we were both in school at the same time as the US is one of the hardest countries to connect with Australia in real time. It was Thursday last lesson for her and Friday first lesson for me.
However, an alternative program was run that week and when I looked at the class I had, I knew that it wouldn’t work! So as the bell rang, I quickly went to our grade 5/6 class and asked their teacher if they would like to connect with the school in southern California. To Mr Huglin’s credit, he agreed. So I threw him in the deep end, rang the class using Skype and left him to it. First up, they played Mystery Skype. Then it was question and sharing time!
Surprisingly, it worked really well as it was now similar age groups connecting:
The US students were curious about the fact that ours wear school uniforms. They dont!
They were surprised that our students don’t eat MacDonalds often as they have to drive 40 mins to get to one. McDonalds is across the road from them.
Starbucks was also across the road from them. Our students would have to drive 2 to 2.5 hours to get to the closes Starbucks.
Over the last three years, I have been priveleged to be a jury member (judge) for the Shymkemt Flash Mob Jury. This is an amazing collaborative event held at a school in the Republic of Kazakhstan to celebrate the UN International Day for Tolerance in November. Students at this school in Shymkemt perform a dance as part of a group of 10 or more students to their choice of music which can often mash and incorporate music from different genres including traditional folk.
Organisation on a global scale – largely led by Begaim, one of the teachers. Each year it improves and allows for many of the judges who speak English as their first or second language.
a call for jury members (or judges) is sent out world wide through a variety of Skype group lists.
a link is provided to a google sheet for educators/classes to add their names as jury members.
A Skype group is formed as a backchannel prior to, during and after the event.
The Flash Mob is live streamed through Youtube, with a test connection prior to the event.
Prior to the official event, a professional and highly engaging video showing Shymkemt is played through the youtube channel.
As the event starts two student leaders welcome everyone and announce the global judges which are a mix of teachers and classes from countries across the world – Germany, Bangladesh, Russia, Vietnam, Australia, USA, Sth Korea, Kasakhstan, Taiwan, Hungary etc
Thirteen groups performed. Each of them was judged on a number of criteria and given a score from 5 to 10. They were judged on dance energy, team spirit, musicality, dance synchrony, creativity, appearance. Scores were added to the collaborative google sheet after each performance.
Students chose their own music and made up their own moves. All were of a high standard and scores were close
A master sheet kept track of the totals
After approximately 1.5 hours, the final scores and winners were announced
it is very special to be a virtual judge of events like this
live participants in the youtube channel came from a variety of countries so their comments came up in their native language – fascinating to watch and to try and translate!
the youtube channel showed the name of the group who was currently performing so we were all judging the right group
however, as a collaborative sheet was worked on, someone was entering their scores on my sheet which threw me out as I looked like I was judging the dance group that had not yet started and not the current one.
A message came up in one of my Skype groups, to say that a teacher, Sunny, from Vietnam was looking for classes to play a Kahoot game with. The topic was “American Education” – not really a topic that my students would be confident on, but I thought they might have playing with the class from Vietnam.
However, I did not have my year 8 class until 2 hours after the requested time. Sunny said that she could work in with my timetable. At the agreed time, we connected using Skype videoconferencing. After some introductory comments and introductions, another class appeared. However, as time was limited, there was no time to intoduce ourselves as we had to login using the code and start playing. Students opened up Kahoot on the desktop computers of their laptops. The code was visible when Sunny shared her screen.
We used visual clues to try and determine what country they were from as we could see their class as we played. Their facial features were Asian in nature and one of the girls who we could see wore a hijab. We assumed it was a private school as the boys wore ties. Our guess was Malaysia and once the game had ended this was verified. They were from Kajang Bandar Jamaludin, Malaysia.
As students logged in, we could see the Asian names and English names all dropping in on the screen. Some added emoticons etc. To our amazement, all the other students were using individual mobile phones to play. (Our education department is banning the use of mobile phones in our schools next year. At this stage, students in our school can only use them if a teacher has directed them. They cannot access the school wifi and as there is little mobile phone reception where the school is located, they are unable to effectively use them for online purposes.)
The game started! Initially one of my students was leading but due to our lack of knowledge, were overtaken. However, they all had fun and learned from some of the answers to the questions given.
Students had great fun playing with students from other countries.
They could see what Asian classes look like and sound like.
My students were exposed to different names from Vietnam and Malaysia as they logged on with the Asian names. Too often students from other countries adopt an English name and use that.
This time of year is always so busy, with senior students completing exams, school reports needing to be done and lots of potential to get involved in global events and projects. Our school year is drawing to a close.
However, Nov 5 and 6 were great days to be involved in connecting with others during the Microsoft Global Learning Connections. Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of junior computer classes on these days, but we were still able to connect and link with a number of countries including
USA (I connected early in my morning to talk to them at the end of their school day. It was Nov 7 for me and technically the celebrations had finished, but it was still Nov 6 for them).
What did we do?
Played Mystery Skype with most of the countries and students
Watched amazing yoga feats by students from India and saw some of their great craft work.
Saw traditional dancing from Sri Lanka
Participated in the MS Global Connections Playground with Steve Sherman from Sth Africa. There were educators from Beirut and Phillipines etc. I had students creating Lego robots so they were able to show their robots.
I was going to share our farm with the US students, but my sound did not work.
Always test the connection As I had been on Skype so much at the beginning of the week, I did not test my audio when I connected with Steve Auslander’s class in the USA at 7am my time. Unfortunately, my audio did not work. Despite trying to mute, unmute and other quick possible fixes, they still could not hear me. So miming got me through with the few active minutes that I had with them, as it was the very end of their school day.
Expect the Unexpected: I had accepted Skype requests through the Skype in the Classroom website, but sometimes when the actual call came through, it was from a completely different Skype ID. Redferns School in India was one example. Their yoga performance for us was amazing as was the craft work they showed us. So glad, I accepted that call.
As I only had one or two classes that could connect, we had a number of sessions booked for that 50 minute period. Oher global classes were often held up and tried to ring us later than we expected. So we had to quickly finish some connections and be prepared for interuptions and delays. One option might have been to do a group call. There were so many educators and classes actively looking to connect and spending a longer time in the call.
Be better prepared: We loved looking at the craft work, the signs made, the dances and yoga demonstrations. Next time we will try and prepare things better to show a little about us.
Having used Skype for many years and found that it is still the one webconferencing tool that works well in my school and the area I live as it is not heavy on bandwidth. Microsoft took over Skype several years ago and instigated an annual 24 hour Skypeathon.
This year, they have changed the title to Microsoft Global Learning Connections which will encompass other collaborative tools eg Flipgrid, Teams etc but all the while encouraging classes across the world to become connected.
It is always a great experience to connect. Some classes sleep over at school for the 24 hours. Some of our past experiences included live linkups with schools in India who showed their traditional costumes and dancing, others demonstrated their outcomes in robotics, some played mystery Skype with us and some just called to quickly say hello.
Flipgrid is a trending tool to use in global connections and collaboration and it can be used with great success when time zones make it impossible to connect in real time.
Will you be involved this year? My classes certainly will. The hashtag being used is #MSFTGlobalConnect For more information check out some of the links below from Microsoft.
Every two years, students of Hawkesdale P12 College and parents are offered the opportunity to visit China. Mandarin Chinese is the second language taught. Approximately 10 days are spent in China, including four nights spent at our sister school, Beijing no. 27 Middle School, several nights in Xian and the final days spent in Shanghai. Students stay with Chinese host families in their homes. in Beijing.
Social media enables the students to stay in touch with their families and friends back in Australia, and to stay in touch with their host families once they leave Beijing. It is essential to be able to contact the tour guides that accompany the group during the daytime.
Wechat is the biggest communication tool used in China and is used for everything including as a mobile payment app. Before the students and parents left, we tried to setup their mobile phones with the app but had all sorts of trouble activating the app. As it was nearly time to leave, it was decided to find another app. However, this is difficult as facebook, snapchat, blogs etc are all blocked when in China. A VPN is required to access them, but these are not technically legal, they can be blocked at any time and it would not be socially responsible for us to use a VPN whilst there.
Skype was suggested but we needed to find out whether it required a VPN. Fortunately, through Skype in the Classroom network, the names of two Skype Master teachers who work in China were provided. These teachers assured me that a VPN was not required. Students downloaded the Skype app and were added to a group that included the teachers attending and family members.
It has worked really well, with daily schedules posted, lots of pictures shared of what everyone has been up to, videos, questions and generally maintaining contact, especially when students were staying with their host families. It meant that the people back home could ‘live’ the experience with them and I could share many of the photos and videos with my students as they were shared. Skype was used to connect classes back at Hawkesdale with the students in Beijing and the calls could be recorded for future use in the Chinese classroom
This morning we connected with Athalo and his class from Brazil. His students, who speak Portuguese as their first language shared some presentations with us on the following topics about their country:
Zoom was used to connect us and screen sharing enabled them to share their screens with us. Students interacted with each other asking and answering questions.
Our boys under 16.5 football team and under 16 girls’ netball team are in the Grand Final tomorrow. To help celebrate this big event, students in our school came dressed in blue and gold (the colours of the Hawkesdale Macarthur Football/Netball teams). A special pancake breakfast preceded school.
We could show the Brazilian students the pancakes and the footy team uniforms. This added extra interest! Athalo prepared a kahoot on Brazil for us to play at the end of the lesson.
This morning, my global ICT were treated to a connection with Brazil. This time, we used zoom to connect. One of my colleagues from HLW Skypers group, Athalo Carrao, teaches English to students in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Both of our classes were small in number.
The lesson was quite informal and organised on the fly, but it worked really well. Each student introduced themselves to the other global class.
We played Kahoot next. Athalo shared his screen so that my students could enter the code into Kahoot on their screen. There were 14 photos of famous landmarks around the world and students from Australia and Brazil had to work out which country these landmarks were found in. There was much laughter and conversation regarding some of these. Athalo regularly asked how we would say the landmark in English as they speak Portuguese eg the Eiffel Tower in France the Colusseum in Italy. His students could read the countries as Portuguese is similar to English at times, but pronunciation of the landmarks was difficult for them.
One of his students then shared a presentation on the Valley of the Moon which is a an unusual landmark in Brazil. She showed pictures and talked about what it looked like. Photos were shared of the countryside surrounding which is similar to savannah in Africa. Small local shops sell native foods.
As some of my students did not know where Brazil was, Athalo showed them some photos of what it is like there, including maps of locations. We then shared our google tour with them, showing them our location, pictures of our school, Koroit and Tower Hill (neighbouring towns and landmarks).
Further questions included:
What is the time and day there? It was 10 am, Friday here and 9pm, Thursday there.They were 13 hours behind us and still in our yesterday.
If your school has 220 students and the school is situated in a town of 120 residents, how does that work? A: Most of our students come from surrounding farms and small rural towns that are 15-20 mins bus ride away.
Are our volcanoes extinct? (We showed pictures of Tower Hill and Penshurst which both have volcanoes)
What did we learn?
where Brazil is
the name of the capital of Brazil – Brasilia (and not Rio de Janiero)
what people look like in Brazil, how they sound and the first language that they speak
some of the landmarks of other countries around the world eg Ukraine (via Kahoot quiz).
some of the foods that the Brazilians eat and that they like sweet foods
some of their local tourist attractions
World famous landmarks for a variety of countries
that it is more fun to play kahoot with another class in the world
As we have common lesson times, it is hoped that we can connect again soon and further our learning.
As I am teaching an elective called Global ICT to year 9 and 10 students, I asked Mariana if she would have time to connect with them. This is a small class of students, so I was delighted when she agreed to speak to them. Year 7 class really enjoyed the previous connection and it was a great chance to learn about and discuss cultural differences a better understanding of the world we live in and to develop empathy for different ways of life
Again Mariana spent time introducing herself and explaining her background including the fact she was born in Lima, Peru. By sharing her screen, she read and showed the pages of her book “(Not) Home for Christmas”. Although it was in English the Spanish text could be seen on some of the pages. Once the book was finished, Mariana talked about some of the cultural differences in celebrating Christmas. Students then shared their ways of spending Christmas. Photos of Peru and Peru were also shared.
I would highly recommend Mariana to any classes around the world. Following are some of the ways in which she makes it engaging for students of all ages.
Mariana effectively used objects to capture the students interest – a blown up balloon map of the world to show where she lived in the USA (Oklahoma) and where Lima Peru is located. Students then had to guide her to find where Hawkesdale Australia can be found.
By sharing her screen, and showing the actual pages of the book, students could read the text in case they did not always understand her Spanish/US accent. The Spanish text could be seen as well.
Students enjoyed seeing the cartoon type images of the book as they were highly engaging and it added depth to the meaning of the book.
Mariana is a confident and engaging presenter who interacts well with the students.
Even though the book was written for younger students, these 15-16 year old students enjoyed hearing it and liked learning about the different cultures.
Mariana connects from her home and it is interesting to see what the space around her looks like, to have some of her family members interact with us and to hear her speak Spanish to her children.
Please read some of the student summaries on their blog posts:-
G'day! I am a secondary teacher in a small rural prep to year 12 school in Australia. I teach Information Technology and Accounting and am passionate about learning, immersing technology in the classroom, rural education and global education.