On the 26th June, I celebrated my first Twitter birthday. It’s hard to believe that only 12 months ago I was unaware of how significant this social media platform would be to my development as a teacher. I have written before about how Twitter has enabled me to make connections in the world and how these connections have helped not only me but the classes I have been teaching. In my role as a Teacher Librarian who also teaches ICT from K-7 in a rural Western Australian school, global connections have meant that my students have been able to learn from other students in the world, reach out to people and to have an authentic audience for their work.
This semester, I have been very fortunate to be involved in two very different initiatives organised by teachers in two different continents.
Mrs Karen Stadler’s (@ICT_Integrator) Save Our Rhino’s project from Elkanah Primary in South Africa enabled the students to learn about endangered rhinos knowing not just that they were endanagered but how people around the world were passionate about saving them. This connection with people is what makes the global classroom aspect so powerful. It was also a great link for us to learn about our own endangered animals and hopefully educate others in the world about them.
Ms Katy Gartside’s (@KatyGartside) 9-to-9 Skype Marathon run by her Year 5 Class at The School of Columbia University in the USA was brought to my attention by Katy’s twitter feed. I have Skyped with Karen last year and I love the opportunity for the student’s to have the face to face experience with kids from other classrooms, so I expressed an interest in participating. Luckily for us, we were able to connect with times, not always possible in the US due to the time differences betweeen us. We were the 8.45pm session for them and the 8.45am session for us. The Year 6 students in my class were blown away by the articulate students running the session and learnt a lot about community but more about the similarities and differences in their own schools. We reflected on the session and I think every child loved the Skype experience.
I encourage every educator to make connections globally. Twitter has been for me the most effective way to make these connections and I have found the people to be generous, supportive and inspiring. If you would like to join Twitter I would recommend you follow the above two educators and Michael Graffin (@mgraffin) who is the #globalclassroom Project Co-founder, you won’t be disappointed.