Tag Archives: Global Projects

Reflections of a Flatclassroom Global Collaborative Project

This spring I had the opportunity to participate in one of the Flat Classroom global projects designed and facilitated by Flat Classroom co-founders, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis.  The project that my students and I participated in was the NetGenEd Project.  The idea behind the project was for students to work collaboratively researching and contributing to the NetGenEd Wiki  about one of the 2013 Horizon Report Tech Trends through the critical perspective of Don Tapscott’s Net Generation Norms.  In addition, students created a video about the tech trend they researched to be judged by a set of external judges.  The project encompassed about ten weeks from February up until the end of April.  My students worked on the project everyday in class researching, adding information to the Wiki and Ning, communicating with their global partners from other schools, and creating their videos.  This being the first year that my students and I participated in the project, I asked my students to reflect on their learning and participation in this project.

My students gave me some insight in how I might do the project differently if I were to participate in this project again and confirmed for me some of my own thoughts post-project.

As a new teacher to this project there were meetings online every week or two to help set up the project but as one of the organizers said, “it is sink or swim.” I kept abreast of everything but a mentor assigned to work with me would have been beneficial.  I read Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time (2012) by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis beforehand.  I read Grown Up Digital (2009) by Don Tapscott after being informed I was invited to participate in the project.  I read as much as I could so that I could manage the project effectively and successfully.

One thing I would recommend changing is streamline the websites.  It was overwhelming and confusing between the Ning and the Wiki.  As a Wiki user and advocate, I was comfortable and confident collaborating on a Wiki.  The Ning — think of a social networking sight like Facebook specifically for the project participants — I felt, was not necessary; and many of my students confirmed the same in their reflection.   Asking students to contribute to a Wiki and contribute to the Ning was tedious and confusing.  There was a handshake on the Ning, but project reports on the Wiki, discussions on the Wiki and on the Ning.  Why not have a page on the wiki to share handshake blog posts and keep everything on one website.

Returning teachers shared their project checklists online and this was tremendously helpful.  I used these as models to create daily checklists to help my students move through each element of the project requirements.  I wish I had gotten this information right at the beginning of the project.  In addition, I felt I needed to evaluate my students at every checklist to make sure that each piece of the desired outcomes was met.  I created my own rubrics, and would have loved other teacher participants to share their own.

I realize now, after reading student reflections, I need to better articulate the guidelines and desired outcomes for my students.  I thought that I was clear but found many of my students confused.  I need to create templates to support student research and offer models of solid final products to help my students understand the project requirements.

Here are some highlights of what my students said in their reflections:

“I found it interesting to work with students in other countries and see their point of view.”

“I learned that the future of technology has so much to offer.”

“If you were to do the project again, there should be less work.  It was too much and were graded too harshly seeing as we were learning as we were completing the project requirements.”

“I learned how to collaborate with other people through technology.”

“I think you don’t need to do the Wiki, students should just make a movie and the other people collaborating were useless.”

Now, you might be wondering, would I do another global collaborative project?

Absolutely, in fact I am working on another one right now connecting my students with students at a school in Japan.

To see my students’ Flat Classroom research, Wiki reports,  and videos CLICK HERE.

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A Virtual Book Club

flat classroom book imageFor the past three months I have been part of a Virtual Book Club with educators around the world discussing Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time by Julie Lindsay and Vickie Davis.  What first began as a book club within a school, became a global virtual book club with teachers, parents, students, thinkers, and learners around the world to discuss “powerful educational ideas” with one another.

The book club was facilitated by blogger and technology integration specialist, Kyle Dunbar.  We met for an hour twice a month for three months using Blackboard Collaborate.  Each meeting Kyle facilitated thoughtful discussions and reflections about ideas raised in the book from setting up a global project to celebrating and reflecting on global collaborations.  The fact that I am participating in a Flat Classroom project with my middle school students right now made the book club more meaningful. As I set up and launched the project I had this opportunity with the book club to discuss with veteran and newbie global classroom project teachers all aspects of a global collaborative project. In addition, Kyle set up a blog for teachers to post thoughts, ideas and reflections when we weren’t meeting (or if a person missed a meeting).

So, what were the benefits of participating in a virtual book club?

1. Connected with teachers around the globe.

2. Engaged in authentic literacy experiences – a model for what we want to do with our own students.

3. Learned more about global projects.

4. Inspired to do more – participate in another virtual book club, global project, become a certified flat classroom teacher.

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Supporting New Teachers to Make Global Connections

Recently, I was asked by Lisa Michelle Dabbs of Teaching with Soul & Edutopia to contribute to a blog post on global projects for new teachers.  I have copied and pasted my post below.  For a link to the post on Edutopia.com, click here.

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 EdmodoVoicethreadSkype 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?
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Flattening the Globe: Resources and Ideas for Teachers with Global Project Potential

On Tuesday, November 13th at 4 PM EST I will be presenting “Flattening the Globe: Resources and Ideas for Teachers with Global Project Potential for Global Ed Con.  “The Global Education Conference is a collaborative, world-wide community initiative involving students, educators, and organizations at all levels. It is designed to significantly increase opportunities for building education-related connections around the globe while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity.” (GEC Mission Statement, 2012)

Global Ed Con will happen around the clock beginning November 12th through the 16th, 2012.  The conference is free and entirely online through Blackboard Collaborative.  A complete schedule for the conference and upcoming sessions is listed here.

The session that I will be presenting will focus on Setting Up a Global Project in Your Classroom: Where to Start and What to Think About. The session will offer resources where to make global connections with other schools and organizations, ideas to think about in setting up a global project, and how to help create a global project that unites young people around the world. I will discuss a global project that is being established for the upcoming spring between a Japanese School and my middle school in suburban New York.  In addition, I will offer project ideas, necessary technologies needed, and resources for starting your own global project. The session will introduce different global projects that teachers can create and do with their students in any content area.  I will share  past projects students completed that teachers can model in their classrooms.  If teachers truly want to help prepare students for the future than what we do in our classroom should reflect this.  Students need opportunities to interact with one another, in addition to within their communities as well as globally.  Students need ample opportunities to create and share using technology and digital media.  This workshop will address how teachers can help students extend and apply knowledge in diverse and creative ways.

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