Technology Integration

Fifth Graders Go Global with Holiday Card Exchange

A great holiday idea that uses Skype in the classroom

November 14, 2011

I shut off the lights to my classroom and lock the door behind me with a smile on my face. It's 8:00 pm in our town of Geneva, IL and we just wrapped up a video Skype call with students in Chi Yi City, Taiwan. They are our partners in an iEARN project called Holiday Card Exchange.

Mill Creek 5th graders watch their Taiwan partners appear on-screen.

At 6:45 pm our time, our students returned to school with their parents and excitedly assembled on the floor, making sure they could be seen on the screen projecting the view from our camera. At precisely 7:00 pm you could hear a pin drop as we dialed Chi Yi City, and as Mrs. Hou answered, we could see her students hurriedly assembling on the floor of their classroom. It was 8:00 am in Taiwan, and their school day was just beginning.

There was a buzz of excited chatter on both ends of the call. We'd just finished creating, packing and mailing our holiday cards for Mrs. Hou's class, and now here we were face to face with the students that had also made cards for us. A few adults had tears in their eyes as we watched the interaction across thousands of miles. Several students on both sides of the world nervously took turns at the microphone, carefully projecting their rehearsed city and country information into the microphone. Applause was given, and greetings exchanged in each other's native language.

Students in Taiwan open the cards we made.

Adaptation and Transformation

Watching this filled me with pride in these students, awe in technology, and gratitude for school leaders that can envision this amazing future for these, our nation's future leaders, our own children. In this world of rapidly changing technology, it is easy to get caught up in fear of the unfamiliar. It takes much stronger leadership to be able to see the direction the world is heading and the transformation possible within our schools.

As a Flat Classroom certified teacher, I have learned with some of the best teachers in the world. There are safe, responsible, and confined ways to interact globally. These experiences have changed my idea of teaching and learning, as well as my understanding of how our country, and the world, must adapt to continue to be leaders in an ever evolving planet. I am committed to taking my seat in that system and to bringing my students the best the world has to offer. In a world driven by testing and data, how do you measure the need for global understanding? The world is changing, and it is in adaptation that the power lies.

Now I'm off to the computer lab as my fifth grade class logs onto Edmodo to discuss the context of cultural differences through literature with students in China, Czech Republic, Canada, New York, Maine, and Massachusetts. This reading project will be discussed in two sessions in the Global Education Conference; Designing a Global Collaboration using the Flat Classroom® Model, and Reading Across the Globe: addressing the context of cultural difference through collaborative discussion.

You can also catch Mrs. Hou and I in a session describing our iEARN Holiday Card Exchange project. I hope that you can join in the discussion by logging in to this incredible free conference.

For more information, visit Global Education Conference, Nov 14-18.


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Filed Under

  • Technology Integration
  • Student Engagement
  • Social Studies/History
  • World Languages
  • 3-5 Upper Elementary

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