The winner of the Mardi Gras competition – the Penguin!
Reinhard Marx has been an online teaching colleague for many years, and pushes technology use to the boundaries of the world. Each year he organises many activities for his classes and brings other classes and educators in from across the world.
The class from Croatia, as seen through the Hangout!
Last night was one great example of his innovative work and this is what it looked like.
- Students in his school came dressed in costume for the Mardi Gras.
- Prior to the event he sent out a google spreadsheet seeking classes and teachers from across the globe to be judges. Interested teachers filled in the spreadsheet, with their name, class (if they had one), country and email contact.
The class from Hungary
- Just prior to the class, the link to a Google Hangout was shared
Tereza – a judge from Croatia
- Reinhard creatively set up 2 webcameras, one at the front for students to walk towards, showing their costume and also to act out their costume character.
The rear webcam allowed us to see the back of the costumes
- Another webcam was set up at the back of the room, so that we could see the detail of the back of the costume.
- There were three sessions in total. In my session, there were classes/educators from Hungary, Croatia, Russia and Australia
- A link was given to a judging sheet setup in Google Sheets. We gave each student a score for A) their costume itself and B) for their ability to act out the costume character. Each was scored out of 10
- The winner with the highest total received a chocolate bar!
- Sitting in on a German classroom virtually and hearing the German instructions and then often the English interpretations of the character’s costume.
- watching students being pushed outside their comfort zones to try and act out their character
- watching in real time, the global judges’ scores coming in on the spreadsheet
- seeing the variety of costumes
The total time taken was approximately 50 mins. Great work, Reinhard on a very successful competition.
Although I have been involved in many special and almost unbelievable global projects and events for many years now, and feel that nothing would surprise me anymore, last night’s experience, organised by Reinhard Marx and online teaching colleague from Germany, did amaze me.
It was the start of Mardi Gras in Germany and students were encouraged to attend school in costume. In the weeks prior to this event, Reinhard sought global support for teachers and classes across the world to join three classes, view the German students in costume, watch them act out what they were wearing and vote on a shared google sheet. Teachers and classes registered on another shared google sheet and at least 5 or 6 registered as judges for each group.
I helped judge the third group together with students and teachers from France, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Hungary. It was 8pm my time so I was without students.
How it looked:
- Participants were given a link to a google document with the rules and procedures clearly explained and links to the voting sheets in google sheet
- One day prior we were given the option to test the connections, audio and video
- Google hangouts was chosen to connect us all
- The same link was used for each of the three German classes.
- Even though the class may not have been in the room, the webcam was on the empty classroom, so that we could see when the students walked in and know that we were in the right place. The back of the room featured flags from across the world.
- I entered 20 mins early to make sure I could logon and was surprised to see so many other judges/classes in the room already. Some were a little confused over the times and when it was going to star (one of my biggest challenges is time zones). We were able to introduce ourselves and get to know each other through the chat.
- Reinhard and his class entered at the appointed time. Students were obviously dressed in costumes, some hired, some made at home.
- Students came up one at a time to the webcam, showed their costume, tried to act out in costume and answer any questions. There was a wide variety of costumes – a police girl, Snow White, a zebra, a Unicorn, a martial arts person etc Some were too shy to come up to the webcamera.
- As they finished, the global judges would add their votes to the online voting sheet.
What a wonderful innovative global event. We all had a great time and the chat was to support those when they did not understand. Great work, Reinhard and thanks for organising the event.
Reinhard Marx is an innovative connected teacher in Germany and part of the HLW Skypers group. He organised Christmas Around the World and brought the world to his class as well as to those who participated.
I was registered to be a participant in the first class as it was night time in Australia. Unfortunately, I had no class with me. Kim from International Community School of Abidjan from Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa also joined us with her class.
We shared how we celebrate Christmas in our countries. Reinhard’s class shared and I used screen sharing to show a presentation with pictures of what it is like where I live. Kim’s class showed a video story. Each of the students individually shared where they are from and how they celebrate Christmas. It was fascinating to learn of our similarities but also our differences.
As the session drew to a close, the German students sang “Oh Tannenbaum” for us. The words for this carol were shared on our screens. The next minute, Kim’s class broke out in energetic singing and harmonies. The passion of both songs brought sheer delight.
The African class had to move, so I stayed on and showed my packet of Christmas cards and bonbons. The German students did not know bonbons. I opened one, and showed the little toy, party hat and riddle that came with it.
Our friend Maria del Colussa from Argentina also joined us for a few minutes but will be part of the next formal class.
Christmas Around the World will continue through the next few hours with other classes and students joining in. What an amazing experience for Reinhard’s classes and for us!!
How it worked! Reinhard shared
- a google document with us so that we could add the most suitable times.
- a google map so we could add our location using pins
- the google hangout link to connect
We used screen share to show our presentations and the chat to share questions and comments during the presentations.
What surprised me! The African students were so, so confident and had lots of questions. The German students were rather shy as English is their second or third language.
Other countries involved include Hungary, Sweden, India.
Most amazing is that this connection made the German newspaper. See the article online.
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.
As Australian schools enter the final weeks of term 3 with still another full term to go, our European and USA counterparts (and others) are starting or about to start their school years. Reinhard Marx is an innovative connected colleague from Germany and someone I really enjoy working with asked whether I could teach a grade 4/5 class about the area I live in. It was one of their first classes for the year.
Tools used and resources accessed:
- Skype was used to connect me with his class and to provide a backchannel for reminders and prompts when we were both ready.
- A powerpoint presentation was created to show a little of my school and the farm that I live on.
- It was uploaded to google presentation, should my bandwidth not allow me to share from my screen.
- An Australian flag
- A real pet lamb (as we are in the middle of the busy lambing period on the farm)
- A fresh bunch of flowers (as this is my hobby to garden and work with flowers)
My grandson and me on the farm bike
We started with a mystery skype. The students did not take long to work out where I was from. When they worked out my country, I shared my flag to the web camera. Students then volunteered to ask me a number of questions eg “Was it winter where I lived?”. The last 15-20 mins, I shared my screen through skype and talked through the photos of school and our farm. The bandwith was great for a start and images and audio crystal clear. However, after the fourth slide, the size of the images failed to load quickly in Germany, so I shared the link to the google presentation and we walked through the images remotely. To complet the lesson, I brought in one of our pet, bottle fed lambs – always a sure winner!
I like working with Reinhard because he:
- actively seeks global connections and lessons. He is a science and maths teacher
- gave students the choice of mystery skype and a lesson with me or they could continue with their maths. (There was a mix but most of the time, they were intently watching me and the presentation)
- introduced the class of 26 clearly to me swivelling the camera so I could understand the teaching space I was in
- always repeats what the students say, so that I can both hear and understand the comment or question asked
- always stopped me for a question that a student might have – so their curiousity was satisfied immediatley and not forgotten about
- ensured the students came up to the camera and could be clearly seen by me
- interpreted my talk so that all student members could understand what I was sharing
- bandwidth and sharing images over skype
- working with an interpreter, remembering to keep my sentences short and concise, pausing to be interpreted and then carrying on
- the accents and understanding the comment or question – especially understanding the name of the students
The three G’s
- Global presenters from across the world, presented on a –
- Global theme – Globally Connected Learning in a –
- Google Hangout
My opening slide
Reinhard Marx sought interest from members of the HLW skypers group in presenting to teachers of English at a conference in Russia on the topic of “Globally Connected Learning” . The time suite me – 7pm my time, so I was in.
Steve Sherman from Sth Africa, Larisa from Serbia Russia, Maria del Carmen Colussa of Sth America Anna and Michael from Russia, Reinhard from Germany and me, from Australia logged into a google hangout to present to about 300 English teachers live at the Paedagogical University Chelyabinsk, Russia. The google hangout was chosen as it is free, could be recorded, allowed screen sharing and could be broadcast live on youtube.
Prior to the presentation
- a google presentation was set up so that we collaborate and add our slides.
- a google document and qr code was set up to allow for questions from the participants after the event.
- an online meeting in a hangout was held in late December
- extra messaging and chat took place in gmail or on skype
- The university theatre with our presenttion up on the screen
The university theatre with our presentation up on the screen and the virtual presenters
- the presenters logged into the hangout early to test sound and make sure all was ready.
However, we had many technical issues. I returned to school as the bandwidth is much stronger than at home, but my microphone did not work in the hangout, so switched to a computer lab desktop, which meant that I did not have a webcam. The first hangout link did not work well, so another had to be quickly booked by Steve in Sth Africa. We started a little late due to the difficulties.
- Steve and Reinhard co-ordinated the session virtually, whilst a technician in Russia ensured all was working there.
- Reinhard commenced the presentation and then the rest of us spoke to our slides for approximately 7 mins.
Larissa of Siberia waits to give her presentation
- being part of a presentation that involved speakers from so many continents
- seeing the theatre that our participants were in, in Russia – always amazing to think that this can be even done!
- having two experts on hangouts in our midst
- listening to my colleagues share their experiences with globally connected learning
- just being able to be part of a presentation that involved the globe!
- pioneering and paving the way for more presentations like this
- as always, technology does not always work as it should but we kept working at alternatives to ensure the presentation went ahead
- keeping all presenters, who all had so much to share, to their assigned time frame
- ensuring presenters had their mics on mute when not speaking as any movement often activated their image on the main screen
- learning to have the current presenter or speakers module highlighted so we could see the shared screen
- speaking slowly and clearly enough to allow for differing accents
Here is our presentation
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
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?