The class from India
“Advent, Christmas and New Year” was the title of a google hangout organised by Reinhard Marx of Germany. Five countries were involved:- Germany, Sweden, France, India and Australia. As school was still in for the other four countries, students from classes there presented on the theme. As students have finished school in Victoria, I shared what Christmas and New Year looks like here. Although we are increasingly becoming a multi-cultural country, Christmas is still our major festival and a special time for family gatherings.
It is rather surreal to sit in the classrooms of students across the world, from different countries and cultures. It was winter over in Europe so students were warmly dressed. It was hot in Hawkesdale – 38 degrees so I was dressed appropriately. The French students wore their Santa hats, some classes sang carols in their own language most shared presentations and enabled us to see how it was similar and different in our own countries. We may use different names for Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St Nicholas etc and we may celebrate Christmas and New Year on different dates, but many of us eat the same traditional foods, follow similar customs and the same carols.
The French Class
Of most interest was the class from India whom many would associate with the Hindu religion but there are areas of India, (where the British predominantly settled) that are Christian in nature. Their different religions and cultures tend to be quite tolerant of each other, with Hindu and Muslim people wishing Christians a “Happy Christmas”.
I strongly feel that we need to hold on to our culture, celebrate our traditions, maintain the stories over the generations and share with others. We can develop empathy and understanding, tolerance and develop a culture of peace. Many governments and departments are trying to stay politically correct and ban or prevent the Christmas traditions in school, the work place and community in case it should offend others. However, all cultures should be able to celebrate their festival days and share with their fellow country people without fear!
The Swedish class
Thank you Reinhard for this wonderful event. I learned so much about the history behind Advent, Christmas and New Year and the celebrations in other countries.
What major festivals do you celebrate? How do you celebrate them? Watch this video on Christmas in Australia, put together by a year 7 student last year.
Celebrate Learning without Borders was a 2 day Skypethon event organised by Skype. During these two days, teachers and classes were encouraged to connect with others locally and globally. Students in our school were given the opportunity to connect with Anthony Salcito, who is Vice President of Education globally for Microsoft. See the video created to share snippets.
Anthony called into 33 classrooms non-stop on December 3rd, starting at 4pm in Seattle with a call to Auckland, New Zealand, and finishing with a classroom in Microsoft’s backyard, Bellevue Washington. During the 24 hours he called into classrooms in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Sri Lanka, Egypt, India, South Africa, Kenya, Macedonia, Norway, Austria, Russia, Ireland, UK, Finland, Canada, Argentina, Puerto Rico and the USA.
As our school is nearing the end of the year, classes were mixed and we were able to connect directly with Anthony Salcito and Redfields School, in India. But another post will cover this. Did you participate in the skypeathon? What were your experiences in learning?
The Code to Learn tutorials are great because:
- small video clips feature people across the world explaining what the students are to do.
- The challenges feature topical animations and games that students are familiar with.
- The graphics are great
- Students were able to follow the user friendly instructions.
- A certificate is given once the challenge is completed.
- the amazing part was that three students who struggle with literacy and maths etc in the classroom were the fastest at completing the challenges!!!
Here is what we did:
- Discussed ways technology impacts our lives, with examples both boys and girls will care about (Talk about saving lives, helping people, connecting people, etc.).
- As a class, listed things that use code in everyday life
- Watched the following videos as an introduction
Students then wrote down instructions the actions that need to be taken to leave the classroom for lunch time eg logoff computer, stand up, push in chair, turn right, take 5 steps, turn right, take 15 steps, open door, turn left, take 30 steps to lockers to pack books away etc etc. Then discussed how this would look in code.
- Signed up for the hour of code
- Spent an hour learning how to code by accessing an online tutorial using ‘drag and drop’ blocks of code in Star Wars and Minecraft.
- Saved a copy of their certificates (given to them on completion)
- Added the certificate to a post on their blog
- Printed a copy of their certificate to take home
- Start here
- How to do the Hour of Code
- Check out these teaching tips
- Calling all teachers and learners of code
- Making webpages with the Khan Academy
Further videos, if time permits
- What most schools dont teach
- Anybody can Learn code
- The Hour of Code is Here
Skype has always been one of my favourite tools as it is user friendly, capable of being used across all cultures and countries, is free and it just works! It works both at school and at home on our often poorer bandwidth.
Skype are encouraging educators across the world to get involved in a 2 day skypeathon to celebrate learning across borders on Dec 3rd and 4th. They hope to travel 1 million virtual miles in that time and encourage classrooms to get connected and enjoy the learning that can come by being connected.
Our first connection will be with Anthony Salcito, vice president of World Wide Education at Microsoft in Washington, USA. This will be at our lunchtime tomorrow Dec 3rd but Anthony will still be enjoying Dec 2nd. We hope to share objects and images that reflect the Australian culture and the place where we live. This will add 10,180 miles to the 1 million miles tally!
Are you taking part in this? Who are you connecting with? Simply tweet your connections with the hashtag #skypeathon and the miles will be added.
On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I attended Comview, the Victorian Teachers Association for Commercial Teachers annual conference. On Tuesday morning, I gave my presentation on “Trending Tools and Apps for Students in the Commerce Classroom”. There were approximately 40-50 teachers in attendance.
Aishah introduced my session, explaining a little about me and my role in the Commerce Classroom. She made welcome to country and acknowledged the elders on whose land we were on.
However the next was totally unexpected! she asked us all to take a few moments to reflect on the recent events in the world (Paris), reminding us of the important role that we play as educators and the influence that we can have on students, whilst they are young, to develop empathy, tolerance and an understanding of different cultures/religions.
Aishah was a female, muslim teacher from one of the Melbourne Islamic schools. I nearly started my presentation in tears!
For the first two days of this week I am in Melbourne for one of my favourite conferences – Comview, organised by the Victorian Commercial Teachers Association.
Melbourne is being decked out for Christmas, one of our biggest traditional festivals. The Myer Christmas windows are now open for viewing, the Town Square and Federation Square is being decorated and many of the arcades and laneways feature ornaments. Here is what my journey to work looks like:-
Starting from Victoria Market
Bourke Street decorations
Stopping by the Myer Christmas windows
A little dog lost amongst the trams in Myer windows
Down the Royal Arcade
The Block Arcade
Flinders Street Station
Destination Comview Conference Flinders Street