George Lucas Educational Foundation
New Teachers

Supporting New Teachers to Make Global Connections

November 20, 2012

This past week, a tremendous opportunity to participate and view presentations from educators around the world happened on the web. The annual presentation is called the Global Education Conference. I'm glad that I took time to check into this webinar, because I connected with an educator who is passionate about supporting teachers in their outreach to create global collaborations. Her work with educators worldwide helps her connect her students to create fantastic global partnerships.

The Global Education Conference reminded me about the importance of supporting new teachers as they seek ways of making the leap beyond the classroom walls in their work with students. I asked Dr. Michele L. Haiken to join me in this post and share her thoughts about the best ways for new teachers to do this work.

Dr. Michele L. Haiken's Three Steps to Global Connections

Michele L. Haiken, Ed.D., is full time teacher in Rye, New York and an adjunct professor at Manhattanville College. For more ideas on global collaboration projects utilizing technology and literacy, you can visit her blog and follow her on twitter @teachingfactor.

New teachers are excited and brimming with ideas to make their classrooms hotbeds of learning, understanding and collaboration. In addition to their focus on creating a classroom where students are engaged and think both critically and creatively, teachers must address Common Core Learning Standards, content area standards and technology initiatives. Still, teachers want to do more: make global connections and work collaboratively with a classroom on the other side of the world, since creating digital citizens with a global consciousness is essential for success in the world today and tomorrow.

A global collaboration project doesn't just happen overnight. Like any successful project, it requires planning, preparation, connecting and communicating.

Here are three steps teachers can follow to expand the walls of their classrooms, make connections and participate in projects.

1. Connect

It’s all about developing your PLN -- Personal Learning Network. Follow blogs, follow bloggers on Twitter, and then follow those who are following them. The more people you follow, the more connections can be made. Engage in professional organizations like International Society of Technology Educators (ISTE).

2. Explore

Discuss with students the responsibilities of digital citizenship. Create and participate in a collaborative class wiki. Explore and try out different technology tools such as Edmodo, Voicethread, Skype and Animoto.

3. Create

Decide where in the curriculum a global collaborative project might fit. Align the project with technology and Common Core Learning Standards. Use your online connections to communicate and find other classes to cooperate in your global initiative.

For more ways to find global projects and make connections, check out the following websites.

  • The Flat Classroom Project coordinates major international collaboration projects including: Flat Classroom Project, Digiteen and Eracism. For step-by-step details about the Flat Classroom collaborations and setting up global collaboration projects, another resource is Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds (Pearson, 2013) by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.
  • The Center for Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology focuses on science and offers 14 collaborative projects for students in grades 1-12. There are a variety of projects from temperature to human genetics and water purification.
  • The Global Classroom Project, a blog and wiki with lots of ideas for different collaborative project ideas, helps connect with global organizers and mentors.
  • iEARN is an organization supporting over 150 global projects designed and facilitated by teachers and students. Every project proposed must answer the question, "How will this project improve the quality of life on the planet?" The focus is on global collaboration and global citizenship.
  • Teachers can get their feet wet with Mystery Skypes, in which classrooms Skype each other and guess where in the world the other classroom is located. For more information, check out Chris Burada's Mystery Skypes 2012-2013 website or Pernille Ripp's blog post So You Want to Do Mystery Skype?
  • In March of 2011, I presented at ASCD in San Francisco on the topic of Beyond the Classroom Walls: Teaching in a Globalized World. You can see the presentation resources on this LiveBinder page.

We hope you'll find these three steps and this resource list supportive. In what ways you are working to bring global collaboration into your classroom? Tell us what works for you and what strategies you use. Then join us for New Teacher Chat Wednesdays on Twitter at 5 PM Pacific/8 PM Eastern. A Global Collaboration in the Classroom chat is coming soon!

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