April 18, 2011

Global Interactions & Global Collaborations

In Maine we have a Social Studies expectation that students understand the geography, economics and diversity of the community, Maine, the United States, and various regions of the world. This progression from local to the country to the continents of the world is pursued using Google Earth and other classroom geography tools. In the last two years I have been looking for ways to encourage 3rd and 4th grade teachers to incorporate global collaboration as a regular part of our curriculum. I see this as an expansion from our state learning "parameters" to learning that includes 21st Century global awareness and involvement.  Several years ago I started using the Journey North materials with our K-1 classes and found interest in some 2nd & 3rd grade classes learning about life cycles and our seasons. This year all of the 3rd grade classes are taking part in the Mystery Class module and they are finding it an expanded opportunity to explore geography and climate information about places around the world. Conversations about latitude, photoperiod, the equator, the Poles, the rotation of the Earth are all taking place as students try to determine the location of ten Mystery Classes

I would like to explore adding a Flat Classroom aspect to this participation that involved direct communication once the students have all figured out the locations of the Mystery Classes. How might we do this? I would like to start using Edmodo with pilot 3rd and 4th grade classes in the fall to develop links between classrooms and to support collaboration on Google Docs for a shared project that had the conversation going in Edmodo. If we find this works for classes then we can expand the idea beyond our school to connecting with other schools. We could also create a Voicethread and invite the Mystery Classes and the classes that are trying to identify the Mystery Classes to contribute a photo about their location and student comments around it. I have just joined the Journey North Ning and I will see if there is any interest in the Voicethread idea. To make it truly within the guidelines of a Flat Classroom Project there would need to be more than a Voicethread, but I hope to try it as a start.

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