You’re welcome in advance for getting this song stuck in your head all day…

There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a small world after all

Due to the innovations of technology today, it really has become a small, small world. But, how often do we as teachers effectively utilize tech to globally collaborate in our classrooms? If I am really honest with myself, teaching my students to be global collaborators is one of the most challenging of the ISTE standards for me as a first grade teacher. This is not to say that my students are not doing any digital collaboration, they are just doing it locally not globally.

In 5 Steps To A Connected Classroom by Kim Cofino she states,

My number one tip for teachers wanting to bring an element of global collaboration into their classroom is to start by building a public online space for your own classroom.

Check. Done. Got it. My students are using Seesaw as a digital portfolio and to connect digitally with their peers in our class and the other first graders at our school. My students also view and comment on each other’s work on a weekly basis. I teach them how to write quality comments that promote discussion and thinking. But, this is purely within the context of our local school, not outside of it.

I wish I had more I could say, but that’s it. That is the current extent of my classrooms’ not-so-global collaboration. At this level of digital collaboration, I have merely just scratched the surface. We live in such a connected world I am doing my students a disservice if I don’t provide opportunities for them to share their learning as well as learn from others on a global scale. They need to know how to effectively connect to people all over the world in order to be prepared for the jobs of the future.

This week has really challenged me to do some research and deep thinking to figure out ways I can improve this for my students. I don’t think I’m ready to begin creating my own globally collaborative project, but I have found a few ways I can foster better global collaboration and create a more connected classroom. Some of what I found I can implement immediately, others will have to wait until next school year. Anyways, here are my ideas:

Seesaw

I have seriously been underutilizing this amazing tool! My class currently has connected blogs with the 3 other first grade classrooms at our school. I can’t believe I never thought to use it for global collaboration until now. Seesaw has an awesome Youtube channel with tons of PD on how to use it effectively for your classroom. This week I  watched the video PD in Your PJs: Global Collaboration with Seesaw. I also found this awesome link to a Google Doc Seesaw created for teachers to add their blog info by grade level so that others can connect to them. I immediately added my class blog to the list and connected to some other active first grade classrooms from around the globe. This way my students can immediately and easily begin global collaboration through viewing and commenting on other’s work.

Stories of a Lifetime

Our second unit of inquiry of the school year is a How We Express Ourselves unit. In this unit, our students inquire into how a powerful story engages the audience, communicates meaning, and invites a response. In this unit, students find out what makes stories powerful and how to create their own powerful stories. For the final project, students create a powerful story to share with their peers using any tech/media of their choice. Unfortunately, this unit has already passed but my idea for next year is to focus their powerful stories to be a story that represents their home culture. Then we would connect globally by submitting it to the Stories of a Lifetime website. In Collaborative Learning for the Digital Age by Cathy N. Davidon she states,

Research indicates that, at every age level, people take their writing more seriously when it will be evaluated by peers than when it is to be judged by teachers.

Although my class project is not writing, I think that having my students know that their digital stories will be viewed by a global audience, will elevate the quality of their work.

Traveling Teddy

The Traveling Teddy is one that I have known about for a year but never signed up for yet. Each year my school gets involved in this but only 3 classes are allowed to participate. I didn’t do it last year, and was too late to sign up this year, bummer. But my colleague and good friend did and she just got her bear! I will sign up next year for sure but in the meantime my class will get to participate by seeing what her class does with it.


Another teacher friend of mine, Rebecca Twitchin, did it last year and her students created this awesome and adorable video about the bear, Millie, and her time spent in China.

Millie Visits China from Rebecca Twitchin on Vimeo.

I can’t wait for my class to participate next year.

Class Twitter Page

In the article Help Students Use Social Media to Empower, Not Just Connect by Andrew Marcinek, he states,

As educators, we must model positive use of learning networks and groups, and give students the proper foundations in the effective use of social media. Let’s move students beyond the simple connections that they get, and really empower their voices, abilities, and talents. Teach students to not just join a PLN or hashtag, but also become an active member. Promote debate and constrictive criticism. Encourage students to find ways to improve the work they post and share.

I use Twitter daily to both share and learn while expanding my PLN. If I truly want to model this for my students and prepare them to use it appropriately and effectively in the future, I need to start now. So I did! I just created a Twitter account for my grade 1 class. Check out our first tweet.

My goal for this account is for my students to be in complete control of what is posted. This will really allow me to immerse them in learning about social media presence, global collaboration, as well as digital citizenship. Now because they are only first graders, all of the tweets will be physically done by me, but the students will be the ones that tell me exactly what pictures to post, and words to say. I will start by adding hashtags for them, and then once they become familiar, I will let them help me decide what hashtags to add as well. Starting a twitter account will allow my class to choose to share what is happening in our room, post questions to gather data from a wider audience, actively search out other classes to see what they are doing, and collaborate with other classes as well. I already began following other first grade classrooms to get us started, and I hope this becomes another way for my class to be authentically connected to the world today. If any of you are also interested in starting a class Twitter account, Alice Keeler wrote a great article on this topic on her blog to help your get started and understand how to use it as an effective tool in the classroom.

Because of all of these tools and many more I haven’t listed here, our world is small and becoming smaller every day. My goal now is to help my students see it that way, and understand how to use this knowledge to their benefit.