Technology, Students, and Monsters – Oh My!

This blog post was written by SMART Exemplary Educators Bob Young and Kevin Wilson, who participated in a global collaboration project with their classes. 

Monsterific Global Collaboration

During the 2016-17 school year, oure students participated in a ‘Monsterific Collaboration Project‘, which allowed learners to become global collaborators with other students around the world. This year-long partnership involved elementary age students (and stuffed monsters!) from several US states and European countries.

Throughout this project, students were able to connect with eight other classes around the globe.  (Classes were divided into groups of three and the groups changed every two months.)  They were able to learn how to be a global digital citizen, and also learn about other’s cultures and lives.  The teachers were facilitators in this project allowing the students to use their class monster to creatively communicate with others to find similarities and differences in their cultures.  

The classes collaborated with various digital resources.  They used Google Apps for Education, Skype, SMART amp (great for communicating with schools when video conferencing wasn’t possible due to time zone differences), SMART Notebook, SMART lab, blogs and various websites.

Some of the activities that students participated in:

  • Monster Guess Who: students asked yes and no questions to try to determine which monster belonged to the class they were visiting.
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  • Using Skype and Google Hangouts the classes met and talked about life at their schools.
  • SMART Notebook and SMART Amp files were shared so that students could communicate and learn about each other and the place they lived.
  • Students created their own monsters and wrote about them, and then they mailed them to another classroom.
  • Students kept passports with monster stickers and wrote about their experiences.
  • Students played “Describe what it is like out your window” to compare weather and land features.
  • Each class created a “Monster Mash” video to share with the other classes involved in the project which was posted on our private shared Facebook page.

By participating in this project our students learned:

  • About time zones
  • How to communicate with each other via video conferencing
  • Skills in foreign languages
  • About different customs and cultures
  • About similarities and differences among classrooms, schools, cities, etc.  One of our schools was located on a military base in a foreign country, which allowed the students to hear about life on a military base.

Based on our experience here are some tips for participating in a global collaboration project:

  • Start small and keep it simple
  • Let the students guide the questions and activities
  • Be prepared for technical difficulties.  It is always good to do a test call ahead of time.  
  • Provide clocks for the classrooms in different time zones so that throughout the day you can discuss what the other classrooms might be doing at that time.

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We have participated in global collaboration projects for five years and plan to continue because of the learning opportunities it provides for all students.  This Monsterific project was the largest one that we have undertaken and the one thing that we learned from it was that while it was fun to visit so many classrooms, we weren’t able to really get to know the students like we did with smaller projects.  
Check out: http://monsterificcollaboration.weebly.com/blog to learn more about this collaboration project.

 

Many thanks to Bob and Kevin for sharing their story and outcomes! Join SMART for Global Collaboration Day on Thursday, September 21st on Facebook and Twitter

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