The words ‘global collaboration’ seem like a distant attainment for most of us educators. We think that concept is something someone else could do, but certainly not someone like ourselves. But, I’m here to tell you it is not an impossible task. Last week’s news story is proof positive!
So, how did a teacher like me, a middle-aged teacher in rural Virginia, wind up collaborating on projects with teachers and students in Turkey, Italy and India during a pandemic?
It started in the summer of 2017 when I participated in a year-long professional development program through ITTIP at Longwood University, Inspiring Teachers for Engaged Learners (InTEL). Part of the learning experiences included a book study utilizing, Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time, by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis. The book study experience was a catalyst for my subsequent connections. ITTIP director, Dr. Paula Leach and STEM Learning Specialist, Stephanie Playton, encouraged participants to reach beyond the walls of our classrooms. They continue to support teachers years after the course to test video calls, come into classrooms for lessons, loan equipment, and provide STEM education advice.
Mystery Skype is one particularly engaging technology tool I learned about through the program. The aim of the game is to guess the location of the other classroom by asking questions in a video call format. Finding colleagues to play Mystery Skype requires forming connections through professional learning networks such as Skype in the Classroom and Edmodo.
It was through Edmodo that I found like-minded educators in India and Italy in the fall of 2019. We navigated time zone differences by having students arrive at school at 7:30 a.m. in Virginia and 5:00 p.m. in New Delhi for a Skype call. We set up an Edmodo classroom for students to post projects and receive international feedback. We often used Padlet for asynchronous connections.
Those two connections have multiplied. My colleague in India had a connection to a teacher in Turkey. The teacher in Turkey was seeking an international audience for her children to share information about their World Children’s Day holiday in their country. From our Zoom meet teacher brainstorm, we ironed out details of the project that resulted in the featured news story.
Where do we go from here? We are presently working on a Padlet to commemorate World Bee Day on May 20th. This project also includes students in Japan and Ireland. We are also looking toward a future International Kids Magazine to be developed as schools reopen in the fall!
So, see! ‘Global Collaboration’ is not an impossible task.
Written by Melanie Ranson. Melanie is a K-5 Gifted Resource teacher for Appomattox County Schools.
Diane DeMott Painter says
I participated in Kids-91 when “email” was introduced to some folks in K-12 education in the very early 1990’s.. George Mason University set up my school with a computer, email software and a tie-in to their server on GMU’s campus that transmitted our email to a school in Prague. I was a special education teacher at the time and I wanted to focus on having my students answer the Prague students’ questions, demonstrating good English skills. So in a sense, I used the project for helping my students meet their written language goals. What actually happened was so much more. We learned about the pending fall of communism in Europe when the Prague students asked questions about our form of democracy, our president and our Secretary of State. So my students had to do research too to answer those questions! My students learned about life in Eastern Europe and this encouraged them to take their writing very seriously. After all, the Prague students were also learning to perfect their English skills! So I want to say that what Melanie is doing with her “keypal” initiatives is so valuable. I went on to arrange other keypal projects with the UK and Australia. I loved the process because it made learning so authentic and purposeful.