This post was created by the two teachers involved in this Global Collaboration project, Amy Yonashiro, and Kristin Skage. Read on to hear about some of the activities that their project involved, and some of the unexpected outcomes that they experienced.
One of the biggest challenges of integrating technology in the classroom is to use it in ways that meaningfully engages students rather than simply using it to do what’s been done before but in a digital format.
The global collaboration project we created and implemented connects students in our classrooms across the world (more than 6700 miles/10,700 km and 12 hours!) in Bergen, Norway, and Honolulu, Hawaii. The project requires technology, yet gives students flexibility and choice in platform, device (interactive flat panel, iPad/tablet, laptop, computer, mobile phone), and apps (Skype, social media, SMART amp, and SMART lab).
Our students collaborated using technology for a number of different activities:
- Students made a personal connection by introducing themselves via video using Flipgrid – this connection helped them to feel that beyond doing class work, they were making new friends.
- Using SMART amp they shared what they knew about Hawaii/Norway off the top of their head, then posted interesting facts after a quick online search. We were both surprised by how much the Norwegian students knew about HI, but not surprised that the Hawaii students knew very little about Norway. The fun facts that were collected generated animated discussions in both classrooms.
- Students posted photos from their home on the 5th and 21st of each month in a shared SMART amp workspace to document the changes in daylight hours and temperature. This collection of data confirmed the number of daylight hours increase and decrease throughout the year.
- The classes exchanged Christmas cookie recipes, converted measurements then baked the cookies. Students from both countries noted how sweet the American cookies were!
- The students connected in real time using Skype, which further developed their relationships and increased interest in the other culture. Because of the time difference, the Norwegian students returned to school in the evening and the Hawaii students arrived before classes began to video conference with each other.
The activities didn’t replace our curricula, instead, they enhanced our students’ learning and made what they were learning more meaningful and authentic.
Some of the outcomes we expected, but many we did not:
- Students created and applied shortcuts for Celsius – Fahrenheit formulas, and metric – US measurement conversions found in textbooks.
- The students were in control of their learning as they asked questions about things that interested them: they wondered how the others got to school, if they had trains, and ask
ed about slang words that were used. Their responses to questions were just as surprising and interesting for all of us.
- Our students learned more about their own culture and were proud to share.
- School pride soared as they “bragged” about their school, campus, teachers, classes, and lunches!
- Kristin’s students were more interested in speaking and writing English because they had a purpose. When their English was complimented, her students were more motivated to continue learning English.
We look forward to collaborating again this year. Initially, our goals for connecting our students was to celebrate differences, recognize similarities, and appreciate their uniqueness. We believe these goals were met. We recognize that our students are growing up in a very complex world; technology gives them an opportunity to learn about another culture and to engage with its people, helping them feel knowledgeable and connected to the whole world.
Join us on Thursday, September 21st to celebrate Global Collaboration Day! We will have Facebook live streams from our SMART Exemplary Educators, and a Twitter chat at 5:00 ET to talk about global collaboration and helping students prepare for the future.