Here is another example how cross grade level & subject collaboration among teachers and students, social networking and communication can take teaching out of the confines of traditional classroom walls and into a 21st century learning arena.
I follow Andrew Evans on Twitter. Nothing extraordinary, since I follow more than 1400 people, but... Andrew was not tweeting about classroom projects or the newest tool to improve teaching and learning. Andrew, sponsored by National Geographic, set out in January 2010 from Washington, DC/USA to travel by bus all the way to Antarctica (...well with a boat ride here and there).
Using Twitter, Andrew allowed his 2500+ followers to experience alongside him his journey through the US, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina all the way to Antarctica... All by bus...
What an incredible experience. Andrew also blogged about his adventures on the National Geographic Intelligent Travel Blog. Since our 8th graders are studying South America, I felt it could not hurt to try to contact Andrew to see if he would be available and willing to skype with our students to tell about his adventures and answer questions. I contacted him.... and he said YES!!!!
We set up a day and time to skype. On my end , I involved Mrs. R, our Middle School Social Studies teacher, and Mrs. Z, our 5th grade teacher, to prepare their students by reading through the Andrew's blog and explore the @bus2antarctica Twitter feed "backwards'.
It was a wonderful opportunity to have 8th graders and 5th graders working collaboratively. The older students were charged with preparing relevant interview questions, guiding and mentoring 5th graders on how to go beyond questions that require "yes/no" answers. 5th graders were in charge of documenting the skype connection via their blog, flip and digital camera, backchannel (we use TodaysMeet.com) and entering data into a form, which goes to a spreadsheet.
Here are a few questions students asked:
By Marni S.
Why has going to Antarctica always been your life-long dream?
What was going through your mind when you were crossing the Strait of Magellan?
How did you get National Geographic as a sponsor?
What was it like getting on a plane and flying home in a few hours after 6 weeks of driving in buses?
Did you learn any new languages on the trip? Or new words in language?
By Shaina P.
I read that you were on a bus with a few Israeli's. Did you learn any Hebrew from them? If so, what?
How did National Geographic support you on your trip.
What was going through your head when you crossed the straight of Magellan?
What were the different weather experiences you encountered?
Was the Mate good? What did you like about it? What did it taste like?
Download our backchannel pdf from the Skype call here : Bus2_Antarctica_Backchannel