Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Creating A Global Classroom

Last year, my class had the opportunity to travel to the island of Borneo through Google Expeditions. With the aid of smartphones and VR viewers, each student was able to explore the rainforest with me as their guide. While on our trip, we studied the ecological changes happening there as a result of deforestation. It was amazing!

Integrating technology in this way allowed me to provide a learning opportunity that used to be impossible. I want to be able to plan lessons with rich experiences for my students- opening their minds to the world both near and far.

I recently learned about Skype Classroom -a free community of teachers and experts working together to provide live virtual lessons, field trips, and collaborations around the world. Skype Classroom has learning opportunities appropriate for every grade level, and students do not need their own devices to participate. Your class can discuss a book with its author, collaborate on projects with classes around the world, and visit experts in their field.

Since each Skype Classroom experience is a live event, you can interact closely with your collaborator, asking specific questions and making your lesson or field trip highly relevant for your students. Here are a few examples of the experiences I’ve scheduled for my class.

Civil War Museum

My class traveled all the way to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond to learn about the life of a Civil War soldier. We were able to see artifacts, learn about primary sources, and gain a better understanding of life in the 1800s.

Indigenous People of the Amazon Rainforest

In a few weeks, we will have the opportunity to visit the Amazon Rainforest to learn about issues facing the indigenous people, study cultural similarities and differences, and explore the ecosystem there.

Writing Tips from an Author

To begin our poetry unit, we will visit with an author. She will share a lesson about writing with your senses and then guide us through practice. This will be a great way to make our writing come alive.

Give it a try! All you need to begin cultivating your global classroom is a free Skype Classroom account and a webcam. If you have tried Skype Classroom, I'd love to hear your favorite lessons, field trips, and collaborations. Comment below!

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