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How to Go Global in Your Classroom

| Bob Lenz

Given the level of technical sophistication of today's students, why not use technology to extend the classroom and collaborate globally?

Today's digitally connected world presents challenges and opportunities never before seen. To be successful in the workplace tomorrow, students must know how to interactively collaborate with peers locally as well as globally.

As educational expert Kathy Koch writes, "This generation of students is unlike any we've educated before, because they have been raised in a world drastically different from their parents and most teachers."

As I mentioned in a previous Edutopia.org post, Envision Schools uses project learning to help students master academically challenging content in a collaborative fashion.

Students collectively write papers using Google Docs, as well as script short films and Web sites. It's a low-cost way for students to work in teams, share ideas, and use class time effectively.

Another example of how technology can be used to expand the classroom is at Stanford University's Institute of Design. There, Professor David Kelly invites industry experts to give presentations on YouTube that students must view before class. Experts are then invited into the classroom, where students can spend the entire class period asking questions and learning more.

But experts and student peers needn't be physically present for effective collaboration to take place. For instance, in one American high school, students collaborated with peers in Singapore to create a Web site promoting tolerance. Students divided up their assignment, shared documents via the Internet, and created a finished Web site that provided resources and lessons to teach tolerance and stop bullying.

This not only helped them master rigorous academic content, it also gave them firsthand cross-cultural perspectives they otherwise wouldn't have had. The student team received an award from Oracle's ThinkQuest Education Foundation that recognized the value of their Web site and collaboration.

How are you using technology to expand the classroom and encourage global collaboration? Please share with us.

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Comments (56)

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John Dietz (not verified)

Monica, thanks. That's the

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Monica, thanks. That's the most advice I've gotten to date. I believe I can tie a lot of this in to weekly lessons. Also, I can pass it on to some teachers that I know can use it at other grade levels.

- Appreciated, John

Test (not verified)

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Monica Fernandez (not verified)

Links for Resources

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Hello. My name is Monica. I am an Elementary Education Graduate Student at the University of Florida. I am currently specializing in technology and a couple of weeks ago I completed an assignment where I found several links to help teachers "go global" in their classrooms. I have decided to post them here with a description for anyone who is interested:

CareUSA Virtual Field Trip Ghana
http://www.careusa.org/vft/ghana/day6.asp
This website allows your students to take a 6 day journey to Ghana without even leaving the classroom. As the students explore this African country, they will learn about cultural and environmental issues that the people of Ghana face everyday (like preserving the forest).

Global Leap - Videoconferencing in the Classroom
http://www.global-leap.com/
The Global Leap website www.global-leap.com is a resource for teachers around the world, enabling them to get help, advice and support to develop videoconferencing in the curriculum, and to find videoconferencing partners and to book interactive videoconference lessons. Schools around the world can develop MFL projects to enable pupils to improve their language skills. They can learn more about the daily lives and experiences of their peer groups in other countries, through regular interactive videoconference links.

Global Stock Market Challenge
http://www.globalstockchallenge.com/register.php?ima=individual
The Global Stock Market Challenge is a free simulation that will allow students to compete globally against other schools for prizes. The website explains that The program will assist you and your students to impart important financial planning basics being introduced for social studies, intro to business and economics classes each year designed to learn the basics of investing and how to save. The program works by having student teams act as portfolio managers with access to $100,000 in virtual funds buying and selling real securities from 20 global exchanges.

KidWorld KeyPals
http://www.bconnex.net/~kidworld/keypals4.htm
Kidworld is a webpage that helps kids from all around the world communicate with one another. The KeyPal section of the webstie allows students to write to each-other instantly.

ePals
http://www.epals.com
Many topics and projects to choose from! You can collaborate with students all over the world! Epals is the global platform for learning online. ePals is a Global Community of collaborative learners, teachers, and academic experts in 200 countries and territories.
ePals provides Connections to students, classes, and school districts worldwide that are safe and secure. ePals is the safe and protected solution for linking classes, schools, and school districts globally via ePals SchoolMail™, ePals SchoolBlog™, and Classroom Match.

Hope this helps!

John Dietz (not verified)

Where to start, where to go

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Hello, my name is John. I am a 7th grade history teacher in Austintown, Ohio. I am also a Walden University student The school where I teach is fairly updated and the teaching staff generally young. After reading the article my question is where do I start? I have surfed the net for ideas for my students but it was a very general search (example: Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Ancient China) and time consuming. It's like searching for a needle in a stack of needles.
I like the ideas the article brings out about: Google Docs. scripting short films, and creating web sites but I need more detailed info on what to do with these ideas and how to make them work. Any guidance, suggestions, or info you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

- John D.

Jonas (not verified)

Where do you start?

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Hi Jennifer,

I am about to begin my second year as a 5th grade science teacher. Last year, I was able to incorporate PowerPoints, video clips, activities, and other forms of technology into my room. I too have an online calendar that all my students and their families can access anytime during the day. But, I am not satisfied with what I did last year. I want to have my students more actively involved in the technolgy process, at least to a higher degree. I have limitied access to computers in my building, so some ideas I do have may not work. I would love to do some type of global project with all of my classes but The problem is I don't know where to start or what to even do to begin. It sounds like we are in similar situations. I am continuing to research some ideas I have and I will get back to you if I come across anything that could be helpful.

-Jonas

Rae Palmer (not verified)

Reply to Bill Belsey

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Your project sounds fascinating to me. Something that you might of considered as a small project sounds like it will make a lasting impression on your students for the rest of their lives.

Our school, a small rural school in northeast Mississippi, raises money for various things. Last year we started a mile of dimes to raise money for our gym to be air conditioned, a must in our climate. Looking back, our students could not of been prouder the day it was announced our mile was complete and a date was scheduled to have the air conditioning units installed.

Considering the scope and purpurpose of your project, your students had a much greater reason to be proud knowing that they have helped others around the world that they would of never met if it had not been for their teacher willing to step outside the box and show them there was a way.

Your project has inspired me and I plan to do some checking into what our school can do to make a difference somewhere in the world besides home.

Thank You

Rae Palmer
Sixth Grade Math Teacher

Jennifer (not verified)

Where to Start?

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Hello! I'm a math and science middle school teacher. I have been integrating technology into my classroom for about 5 years. I have been using power points, scavenger hunts, webquests, online videos, online activities, games and assessments. I also use online grading and homework calendars. I'm ready to take it up a notch and expand my classroom globally but I'm not sure where to look or how to start. Any ideas for math and/or science would be greatly appreciated.

Bill Belsey (not verified)

Global Learning: Making Connections to Make a Difference!

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Hi folks,

My name is Bill. I currently teach a grade five class in a rural public school in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

I wanted to share a simple, but powerful little project with you that my grade five students here in Canada are undertaking with high school students in Botswana.

Our project aims to prevent malaria, through education, awareness and the purchase of mosquito bed nets. My students have raised over $600 in the past few weeks by doing chores, shoveling snow etc. We have a modest Website at
http://www.net4nets.net/ that helps to share our story. It is best viewed in Internet Explorer with the sound turned up on your speakers.

Were you aware the malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa and that the equivalent of over seven jumbo jets full of children die each day from this preventable disease? Did you know that last year; nearly one thousand
people in Canada had malaria? Until we undertook this project, my students and I didn't know this either.

We are aware that there are many other bigger projects out there, such as the United Nations "Spread the Net" campaign etc. but in a time where stories about the (often real) dangers of the Internet for kids dominate the media, I wanted
to offer up this little breath of fresh air in these dark days about what young people can do, even in small ways, to help make our world a better place in which to live.

This international collaborative project was made possible through my friendship with fellow teacher Tommie Hamaluba of Gabarone Secondary School. Can you imagine teaching a computer program in a school of 2,500 students with twenty computers? He does!

Our personal friendship and professional collaboration was made possible through iEARN, the International Education and Resource Network, see www.iearn.org. It might interest you to learn that with over two million student and
teacher-members in over 125 countries, iEARN is the largest and longest running k-12 learning network in the world. In fact, last year, iEARN celebrated its 20th year online! You would hard-pressed to name another international
educational initiative that has been online and kept its eyes on the prize for so long and with such consistency and integrity.

It just goes to show that iEARN's original vision of "Connecting Youth and Making a Difference!" is just as valid today as it was 20 years ago. Perhaps in these troubling times, iEARN's vision of hope is just the tonic many of us need
today.

Although our modest www.net4nets.net project may be small in scale, the impact on our students has been remarkable, even transformational. It is quite common to walk into my classroom and see my students matter-of-factly accept Skype video conference calls from Africa projected onto our Smart Board, with students using Google Earth to plot and track mosquito bed net disbursements in Botswana, all-the-while calmly continuing with their regular Math, Language Arts and
Social Studies assignments.

I just thought you might appreciate a little good news story about kids from very different cultures and age groups who have found so much common ground as we learn together and try to make a difference.

If this is what 21st Century Learning is supposed to look like, I'm all over it!

Yours in friendship, learning and hope for the future,

Bill Belsey
Teacher
http://www.coolclass.ca
"Canada's Coolest Class!"

Bill Belsey (not verified)

Global Learning: Connecting Youth and Making a Difference!

Was this helpful?
0

Hi folks,

My name is Bill. I currently teach a grade five class in a rural public school in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

I wanted to share a simple, but powerful little project with you that my grade five students here in Canada are undertaking with high school students in Botswana.

Our project aims to prevent malaria, through education, awareness and the purchase of mosquito bed nets. My students have raised over $600 in the past few weeks by doing chores, shoveling snow etc. We have a modest Website at
http://www.net4nets.net/ that helps to share our story. It is best viewed in Internet Explorer with the sound turned up on your speakers.

Were you aware the malaria is the number one killer of children in Africa and that the equivalent of over seven jumbo jets full of children die each day from this preventable disease? Did you know that last year; nearly one thousand
people in Canada had malaria? Until we undertook this project, my students and I didn't know this either.

We are aware that there are many other bigger projects out there, such as the United Nations "Spread the Net" campaign etc. but in a time where stories about the (often real) dangers of the Internet for kids dominate the media, I wanted
to offer up this little breath of fresh air in these dark days about what young people can do, even in small ways, to help make our world a better place in which to live.

This international collaborative project was made possible through my friendship with fellow teacher Tommie Hamaluba of Gabarone Secondary School. Can you imagine teaching a computer program in a school of 2,500 students with twenty computers? He does!

Our personal friendship and professional collaboration was made possible through iEARN, the International Education and Resource Network, see www.iearn.org. It might interest you to learn that with over two million student and
teacher-members in over 125 countries, iEARN is the largest and longest running k-12 learning network in the world. In fact, last year, iEARN celebrated its 20th year online! You would hard-pressed to name another international
educational initiative that has been online and kept its eyes on the prize for so long and with such consistency and integrity.

It just goes to show that iEARN's original vision of "Connecting Youth and Making a Difference!" is just as valid today as it was 20 years ago. Perhaps in these troubling times, iEARN's vision of hope is just the tonic many of us need
today.

Although our modest www.net4nets.net project may be small in scale, the impact on our students has been remarkable, even transformational. It is quite common to walk into my classroom and see my students matter-of-factly accept Skype video conference calls from Africa projected onto our Smart Board, with students using Google Earth to plot and track mosquito bed net disbursements in Botswana, all-the-while calmly continuing with their regular Math, Language Arts and
Social Studies assignments.

I just thought you might appreciate a little good news story about kids from very different cultures and age groups who have found so much common ground as we learn together and try to make a difference.

If this is what 21st Century Learning is supposed to look like, I'm all over it!

Yours in friendship, learning and hope for the future,

Bill Belsey
Teacher
http://www.coolclass.ca
"Canada's Coolest Class!"

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