Global Awareness, according to The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, includes:
- Using 21st century skills to understand and address global issues
- Learning from and working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions and lifestyles in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue in personal, work and community contexts
- Understanding other nations and cultures, including the use of non-English languages
According to the National Geographic Roper Public Affairs Report 2006- Geographic Literacy Study (pdf),
Young Americans appear to stick close to home, reporting limited contact with other
cultures outside the U.S.
- Three-quarters (74%) have traveled to another state in the past year, but seven in ten (70%) have not traveled abroad at all in the past three years.
- Six in ten (62%) cannot speak a second language “fluently.”
- Nine in ten (89%) do not correspond regularly with anyone outside the U.S.
- Only two in ten (22%) have a passport.
Raising global awareness and making global connections for teachers and students has been one of my goals this year.
Third graders have had opportunities to connect live via Skype to Italy, Israel, New Zealand, Finland, Canada and various states within the USA this year.
Allison Quinn, the teacher from Finland, wrote a reflective blog post about our connection:
They asked and answered great questions that highlighted both the differences (geographically and culturally) and similarities – this was so key. The similarities now seem insignificant – two kids on opposite sides of the ocean have art as their favourite subject – both groups of kids like pizza, the same TV shows – and the same Hannah Montana song. But these seemingly insignificant shared pieces of pop culture astounded and united the kids who were oceans away from each other.
Although seemingly insignificant, these kinds of interactions contribute to a connected feeling, they contribute to a global awareness, that otherwise would not exist.
Seeing students being aware of a bigger world than their own backyard is a first step towards global education. Hearing students use names of far away countries, talk about different languages, cultures and traditions as if they were frequent travelers and jet-setters is a step in the right direction.
Take a moment to watch and listen to our third graders talk about what had surprised them when skyping with third graders from Helsinki, Finland.
Music used with permission by Martin Solomon- http://www.martinsolomon.com
2nd Graders were excited to be contributors to the Whatever the Weather Study from another 2nd grade class from Zug, Switzerland.
We skyped with the class to answer their questions about weather, clothing, plants and life where we live. Recently they shared their learning with us and other countries they had contacted via a VoiceThread. Use the arrow keys to advance the slides to find the images from Florida, then click on the small avatars on the side to watch and hear the comments.
The title of this post "Use Experience to Reach Others" is from a blog post one of our 7th grade (Jewish) students wrote after skyping with (Muslim) students from Minnesota. (Thanks Micah!)
Last month, out Middle School students became the Experts as they were talking bout Judaism to 7th grade classes from Michigan, who were studying World Religions. Our students asked the class from Michigan if they had any Jewish students (which they didn't) and if they knew any Jews personally (which they didn't). There was one Muslim student in their class and our students immediately asked her questions about Islam. After the Skype call was over, our students expressed interest in contacting and connecting with other Muslim students in order to learn more about their religion.
The first Skype call was set up with the Banadiir Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the call, which lasted almost an hour, I witnessed what I am defining as a transformative learning experience. Students had a list of questions prepared about Islam. In the beginning (first 20-30 minutes), the conversations felt very scripted as students read and answered the questions off their list. That changed when students from Minnesota asked "Do you want to see how we pray?" There was an enthusiastic "Yes" on our end of the screen. As they were watching and listening to the explanation, one student ran to get his Tallit and Tefillin to show and demonstrate.
From that moment on, students truly interacted with each other on both sides of the screen. It was the moment that questions came off the list they had prepared and curiosity took over, connections and articulation of their own experiences reached a new level. Skype made it a transformative learning experience by:
- making it a conversation... a back and forth
- personalizing the questions and answers
- connecting it to their own experiences
- making learning go far beyond what a static text book page can provide
I could tell that the wheels in the students' minds were still turning as the Skype call ended. After leaving the "Social Studies" class and heading over to their next period, Mrs. K, the "Language Arts"teacher jumped on the opportunity to build on this learning experience. She asked them to take the notes they had taken during the Skype call and write a reflective blog post about their experience.
Find an excerpt of their posts below with links to their classroom blog and a short 90 second video of the Skype connection.
I believe that not only should we Skype with people of different religions, we should want to Skype with them. The experience is eye opening and very informative. I now understand many things about Muslims that I did not before, and they probably learned things about us that they did not know before. This was fun and a great learning experience. If you are someone who is ready to learn about new things and people, you should try Skyping, too!
Hopefully, technology can bring us together so we can see the good and the similarities in each other, instead of the differences.
There are so many disagreements with our cultures. Those disagreements break the chains of our friendships. We need to take a stand and connect the chains back together. They are great people; some other religions like Catholic and Hindu, and not just us, need to Skype with them.
I want to write letters to the Somalian Muslim students that my class and I skyped with, like “Pen Pals”; and maybe, just maybe, we can become close friends – you never know.
I am Jewish and I just skyped with kids who are Muslims. From this experience, I realized that we have more similarities than differences. We, and people of all religions, need to put our differences aside and look at our similarities.[...] If we take the time to get to know religions other than our own we will understand, just like I did, that we can get along. So, my one wish for the world, is that one day we will have peace – it is up to every one of us, and can begin with a single conversation.
Rational hate would be us Americans hating the people who were behind 9/11. Irrational hate would be us hating every Muslim we see, just because they are Muslim. What is the reason behind it? It’s the same as saying you never want to speak to a German again because of the Holocaust. That person could be totally against Hitler. Never judge a book by its cover; those who do may miss the best read of their life.
It was just a normal morning in March. I walked through the school doors ready for my daily classes: Hebrew, math, science, English, and history. Today, though, I learned so much more than those subjects. At 10:00 A.M., we dived into the beliefs and traditions of a different religion, Islam…via our modern technology, Skype. [...] Over all, this was a fantastic experience that many people would probably never get to have. We shared information about ourselves and learned about a different religion. Hopefully, one friendly interaction at a time, more and more people will begin to realize the similarities connecting people around the world.
Below are a few journal entries from our second graders about their thoughts and Skype:
If I could talk to anyone on Skype, I would choose my Au Pair, Magdalena, because I haven’t seen her in a while.
Skyping is learning new things to me.
I learned how to talk to different people from different countries.
I have learned to make friends.
I would Skype with my Tante Heni, she is my aunt.
I learned about the Olympics skyping.
I would like to skype with Houston, because I would like to talk about football.
Skype is like Facebook, but better.
I would like to skype with the president.
Skype is a way to meet new people who speak different languages.
Listen to our students explain what skyping means to them and who they would like to skype with.
Our 5th graders had the incredible opportunity to connect with peers from a 5th grade class from Binyamina, Israel.
Each class prepared music, books, dance, a news & cooking show to share with each other.
Click on the video below to see connecting, communicating and global education in action.
On a chilly Florida night, Andrea Hernandez. and I hosted the 2nd Annual Jacksonville K12online Conference LAN Party. About 20 educators from 4 schools gathered in the computer lab of the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School to learn about the K12Online Conference, watch a few presentations and talk about the changing landscape of teaching and learning.
I am amazed at and grateful for the willingness of colleagues around the world to share their practices, experiences and thoughts by creating presentations to share freely with anyone.
We met at 7 pm and after a brief introduction of K12Online Conference, which only a handful of the teachers present had heard of, we watched Kelly Hines' presentation Little Kids, Big Possibilities together as a group.
I am even more convinced of the power of having a learning network, when one can ask the presenters of the K12Online Conference to stay up late or wake up early in order to continue contributing to our learning by skyping into our face to face meeting.
Although Kelly's presentation was about tools, such as Wallwisher, Wordle, Comiqs and Edmodo, her skyping in with us, talking to us from her home in North Carolina, having her two sons pop in and out of view, was what illustrated the true value of the learning for the evening (in my opinion). Kelly Hines is a fourth grade classroom teacher, as real and as busy as all of us. She finds the time to learn, collaborate and share her teaching journey with the world. She connects and exposes her students to tools, that allow them to be problem solvers, creators, thinkers and participants in a global community.
After our call with Kelly was over, everyone picked another presentation to watch and/or simply talk with each other. At 8:30 pm we were ready to skype in K12Online Keynote presenter, Kim Cofino, from Thailand. Kim's presentation, Going Global: Culture Shock, Convergence, and the Future of Education, was simply brilliant.
She summarized it well for our group when she said:
Until you experience [the collaboration, the global connections]for yourself it does not really click in your mind, you really won't understand why all these tools that we are talking about are so important and so powerful for learning.
This evening was about being able to show our local teachers, the ease and the accessibility of inviting other voices from across the world to exchange thoughts, ideas and grow as educators together.
It was not about technology, it was about learning with and from each other regardless of location in time and space. It was about bringing awareness to:
- "real" teachers are doing "it". They are moving towards embedding technology to facilitate learning.
- teaching and learning has to change in our schools, adjust, be flexible and adapt to accommodate a new kind of learner and a new kind of "reality" that exists outside of school.
- the reasons why there is a need embrace change.
Kim so eloquently says:
We are at a shift in society, where the ways we use technology has changed so drastically and so rapidly that it is difficult for education to keep up. My fear is that if we don't keep up and embrace the new ways of communicating and collaborating, schools as we know them will be eclipsed by something else.
Links to all K12Online 2009 presentations.
- Keeping the Literacy in 21st Century Literacies by Drew Schrader
- Using Web 2.0 tools to teach 'The Outsiders' by Drew Buddie
- A Peek for a Week – Inside a Kiwi Junior Classroom by Rachel Boyd
- Show & Tell: Exhibit, Reflect & Critique with Blogs by Sarah Sutter
- The Digital Writer's Workshop by Jackie Gerstein
- Engaging Our Youngest Minds by Angela Maiers
- Parallel Play or Collaboration–Leveraging the Wiki Platform for High Quality Work by Paula White
- Around the World with Skype by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano
Sixth graders wanted to explore the theme "Jewish Communities Around the World for the Jewish History Fair 2010.
The idea was born to allow students to "get personal" with and connected to their research, to compliment traditional research media, such as books and the Internet, with 21st century communication tools, such as skype, twitter, facebook, and texting.
Through personal real life connections, my Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter and blog, I was able to get in contact with volunteers representing every continent. They volunteered to be interviewed by our sixth graders about growing up or living in their country of residence as a Jew. Our students wanted to research similarities and differences of being Jewish around the World.
I would like to express a special Thank You to Daniel Needlestone (London, England), one of the first people to respond via Twitter and in return use his network to connect me with more volunteers!
Daniel blogged about our interview from his perspective in this post: Mentoring, Online Lessons, Virutal Tours and Computing-All in a Days Work.
No sooner had the online lesson finished when I got a skype call from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano also known as @langwitches . Her 6th grade class interviewed me as part of their project on Jewish communities around the world. I’ve tried to help set them up with different friends of mine on different countries. Apparently Silvia has managed to cover every continent even Antartica! The girl who interviewed me asked great questions and I really enjoyed our 10 minute chat and meeting some of Silvia’s students. I’m very jealous of their project and look forward to seeing the results!
Although we intended to use as many different media as possible for the interviews, reality worked out a little different. Timing issues, as are very common in a tightly packed school day, played a major role. A face to face interview, as well as one of the Skype calls were turned into e-mail interviews in the end due to scheduling issues. Our texting with one of the contacts, who actually was stationed in the Antarctica at the time, had weather problems and no satellite connection available.
In the end we used the following media to conduct research and interviews:
We would like to express gratitude to all of our interviewees whether via e-mail, skype, telephone, face to face or Twitter. Your time and effort was very appreciated:
- Daniel Needlestone (England)
- David Truss (China)
- Mark Lazar (Israel)
- M. Finkel (Russia)
- Ariellah Rosenberg (South Africa)
- Kabren Levinson (USA)
- Ralph Glasgal (Previously stationed in the Antarctica)
- Andrea Uzan (Denmark)
- Gary Sakol (Scotland)
- David Cohen (Australia)
- Elizabeth Davis (USA)
- Noemi & Marvin Szoychen (Mexico & Venezuela)
- Steve Katz (Costa Rica)
- Elena Herz (Argentina)
Students were very excited for the planned interviews. First, we "distributed" the countries among the students. They each received a short bio from the participants and then gathered background research and to generate questions. I sent the questions off to the interviewees who were participating via e-mail and scheduled the skype & twitter conferences with the others. Once the time zone issues were resolved and the day and time was set, students who were not directly interviewing in front of the webcam were taking on the job of note taker or photographer of the sessions.
Although maybe a bit shy at first, students quickly became more relaxed at interviewing via Skype. All of the students had their questions typed up ahead of time. Their personalities started to shine through though as some added more in depth or follow up questions depending on what turn the conversation took.
One of our participants, Gary Sakol (originally from Scotland), agreed to conduct the interview via Twitter. We agreed on a Hashtag (#JHFI) and on a day and time to meet on twitter. It was the first time for all the students to see twitter live in action.
- we could feel like we were talking and/or seeing the person we were interviewing and get their personal opinions and reactions to what we asked
- we could ask follow up questions to learn more or get clarification
- We liked feeling we were having a conversations rather than reading from books. It felt REAL ideas rather than book facts.
- we felt the information was up to date and we were learning about how people felt and who were living right now.
- we felt these were people we'd like to keep in touch with and have friends around the world
- we were surprised that Jews had almost the same experiences everywhere because we heard/saw everyone say the same things wherever they were. You can't get that feeling from a book.
- We like using the same tools, like e-mail for fun anyway. It made it feel like fun, not "learning".
When we were doing our research, we learned the following things that Jews have in common on every continent.
- Jews seem to all celebrate Jewish Holidays similar
- Most Jewish boys and girls celebrate Bar & Bat Mitzvah by leading services and having some kind of party
- Many Jews attend services
- There are different degrees of observance
- They have rarely experienced direct anti-semitism
- They all take pride in being Jewish
- Many have gone to Israel or al least feel connected to it
- Most don't wear kipot in their daily lives
- All eat some types of traditional food
- They take part in the daily life traditions of their chosen country of residence and usually don't feel like 'outsiders".
This type of learning required many more skills than just the use of technology...
- we collaborated in our overall planning
- created questions, took notes from oral interviews
- asked in oral or written form
- good initial and follow up questions, which required us to "think on our feet"
- shared orally and in writing what we learned from each interview
- synthesized, organized and compiled all our final impressions in writing
- We also did some "book research" to locate data, flags, and histories for our countries
The final display of the collaborative 6th grade research project was a combination of a typed up country reports, a three dimensional map with flags of locations of interviewees, a DVD running on television of the recorded interviews on Skype and a display of photographs that students took during the the interviews.
We heard rave reviews from parents and community about the project who visited the Jewish History Fair. The project is an example how to extend learning by using technology tools to reach further and dig deeper with resources. I believe we attained our goal to
allow our students to "get personal" with and connected to their research, to compliment traditional research media, such as books and the Internet, with 21st century communication tools, such as skype, twitter, facebook, and texting.
Not only did students write their traditional reports, but they practiced 21st century skills of:
- creating (a map)
- collaborating (with their peers to create a snapshot of Jewish communities around the world)
- connecting (with 15 Jews around the world)
- communicating (via different media)
In addition to basic literacy of reading and writing, students were exploring and exposed to
- information literacy
- media literacy
- global & intercultural literacy
- networking literacy
I am guest blogging on My Wonderful World Blog (National Geographic Education Foundation) in honor of Geography Awareness Week 2009 the week of November 15 - 21!
This year's theme is "Get Lost in Mapping: Find Your Place in the World".
I wanted to share a successful geography lesson that continues to grow throughout the school year. I have blogged about the News Events Assignments with a Twitst and The Logistics of creating a Current News Events Google Map previously.
The lesson was born out of a very traditional "Current Events Assignment", handed in to the teacher on paper, which had been part of the curriculum for years.
Our Social Studies teacher. Mrs. R., was not satisfied with the paper and pencil assignment and was looking to bring the old and tried task into the 21st century. She wanted students to not merely be looking up random and disconnected news events that were handed in to her on a weekly basis. She wanted students to be really making connections among these events by involving higher level thinking skills such as evaluating, analyzing and creating. The new assignment was to not only involve geography skills, but also bring into the lesson information literacy and global awareness.
We decided to create a collaborative map for each grade level (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) with Google Maps. Each student was assigned a different colored or shaped placemark within Google Maps . They were also given the class username and password to be able to log in from home.
Their weekly "Current News Events" assignment now consisted in:
- Logging into their grade level map
- Placing a placemark on the location the news event had taken place
- Entering the location's country as the title of the placemark
- Using the description box to add a category the news article was falling under (Ex. politics, environment, entertainment, etc.)
- The source link to the original news article or citation if from a paper newspaper
- A summary of the article. Preferably in 140 characters or less.
Since the start of the assignment, several weeks have passed and new lessons have been learned, input from educators around the world received and new dimensions to the lesson have crystallized themselves.
As more news events are added, we are asking questions such as:
- In what category do most news events we added fall?
- In what continents and countries are these news items in?
- What area of the world do we know or hear the most or least about? Why?
- How can we expand our horizon to cover more areas of the globe?
It has been good to observe that students are branching out in their search for sources. They are reading newspapers from different locations around the world, such as the UK, Australia, and Japan.
They are realizing that:
- different sources bring different points of view, opinions and kinds of news items.
- not all perspectives are represented in one source
- to get a "fuller" picture of a news event, you have to look at more than one source
- location of a source influences the content and perspective of the article
We are asking ourselves:
- What does it mean if the majority of our sources are US based by coming from CNN.com and Foxnews.com?
- How are other countries affected by events happening in different countries or continents?
- What is ( or is there) a difference in terms of validity of news when the source is BBC or Comedy Central?
Each week students, after they have entered their news event, present the location and summary of their placemark to the class on the SmartBoard.
As students present their news event, other students are working with their laptops at their desk and are editing their peer's placemark. They are becoming collaborators and critical thinkers by validating and cross-referencing sources, asking for clarifications if the summary was not understood and making suggestions to where to place the placemark best. As Mrs. R., their teacher said:
In previous "Current News Events" assignment, there was never an element of self- and collaborative checking of their work. Students handed in their news event and summary on a paper. I was the only one reading it. The collaborative web based map has brought a new dimension of deeper thinking.
Why are students motivated to go over and check their own and classmate's work?
Students are aware that their Google Maps of Current Events have been viewed by over 10,000 people (all three maps combined). Over 20 comments have been left by others from far away countries such as Israel, Australia and Korea, leaving students with a sense of pride and that what they do in class matters. Other teachers are using their maps as examples to teach their students. Commenters have:
- asked students to add source links to the original articles
- requested that we double check location placemarks
- challenged students about the "worthiness" of adding articles in the entertainment category
- encouraged students to look for patterns about their news event locations
- shared links to images about a news event
As the Social Studies teacher and I reflect on this weekly task, we want to continue to add new elements and enter into additional phases of the assignment in order to prevent it from becoming routine or just another thing to do for the students.
We are contemplating:
- To give students a broad topic and asking them to find relevant news sources, representative of different countries? Is there a difference in the "facts" that are reported or omitted depending on location? What is their "take" on a specific event?
- Ask students to come up with a world news topic, add their opinion and take on the subject, then ask others around the world to contribute their unique perspective to that topic.
- Have students analyze responses from different locations around the world and consider responses on basis of geography.
4th and 5th graders are skyping with Kauai Pacific School in Kilauea, Hawaii
6th graders are skyping with a teacher from Neveh Channah Girls High School in Etzion Bloc, Israel.