Monday, December 14, 2015

Learning Beyond the Classroom Walls

As part of being recognized as a "Top 12 Global Teacher Blogger" by Cathy Rubin for Huffington Post, I am asked each month to respond to a question.  This blog post is in response to " What are the best ways for a teacher to engage their classroom in a global conversation?"

Before I talk about how to engage students in a global conversation I very strongly believe that a teacher should be involved in one first before expecting their students to engage globally.  For me, personally and professionally, that means connecting with the world through twitter, blogs, and various other on-line platforms.  I ask my questions of other educators both near and far and I learn with and from them.  I strongly believe if I expect my students to have a global conversation, then I should be too. This is not to say that every educator needs to connect the way I connect, but I do feel in this day it is important that you get yourself connected and learn beyond your classroom, school, or district.  Imagine only reading books from one bookshelf, when you have an entire library of great books to read.   

As for my students, I equally believe that they need to be able to learn far beyond their classroom walls.  For this reason our teaching and learning goes beyond our class, school, and district.  My students use tools such as blogs, twitter, and video conferencing to connect and learn with others.  We've taken part in collaborative projects such as the Global Read Aloud with children in other parts of the world.  Video conferencing has allowed my students to learn with others.  Just this morning my students taught children 2,000 km away about Hanukkah. Tomorrow they will be teaching a class within our school.  

So how do you get started?

Start small and bring a friend along. Find a venue that takes you out of your local comfort level.  This may mean joining a collaborative project such as one from  Projects by Jen  , or looking through the learning opportunities available on  Skype in the Classroom.  This isn't meant to be "another thing" to add to your teaching. Learning globally adds to what you're already doing.  For example, to help my students with their number sense, they played "guess my number" with several classes around North America. When they were learning about community they video conferenced with children in different communities to learn what features were common in all communities, and which were specific to where they lived.

Asking experts through twitter, or inviting them to video conference with your class is another small way to learn with the world.  Connecting with an author through twitter has been a pretty straightforward way to learn with others.  There's nothing like havin a tweet replied by someone your students see as important.  There are a lot of great people out there that are willing to help your students learn from an authentic audience.

So whether your first step is a small one or a big one, just be sure to take that first step.  There is so much learning to happen beyond your classroom walls.

1 comment:

  1. This is great, there is indeed much learning to happen beyond classroom walls! I have been so fortunate in that I too have been able to participate in the Global Read Aloud before. You can connect with other classrooms via email, Skype, FaceTime, blogspot/edublogs, google drive, the possibilities are almost endless! I was able to participate in 2015 as a college student in New York, USA, and got connected with a teacher and classroom in Australia. I also had colleauges who got connected with classrooms in the United Kingdom, Spain, and other states in the USA. Participating in this program was a lot of fun, and it definitely is a way for teachers to engage their classroom in a global conversation. In addition to discussing things related to the book, I was also able to learn about their community/country, and vice versa! I also feel that the GRA was a great undertaking in that it really promoted authentic technology use in the classroom. Instead of using my iPad for leisure, I quickly learned how to utilize many of the apps for educational purposes, and to be able to reach across the globe to Australia a few times a week to connect with my group of excited 3rd graders. Thank you for the additional tips about how to start getting connected with the bigger world. I may set up a Twitter account in the near future for when I have a classroom of my own, I've heard it can be a great tool for educational dialogue when used appropriately! Thanks for the post!