There are so many great organizations and global collaborative project options, so just jump in! Once you get your feet wet and figure out the terrain, it’s time to make global projects work for you by specifically addressing your curriculum. You’ve opened up your classroom to the world to allow your students to connect and learn with kids all over, but curriculum standards are different around the world. It is easy to make the project not only collaborative, but also individual to suit your needs.
I’ll take a project my class finished recently to demonstrate how to tailor a project to fit your own needs. Using Data to Understand the World was a collaborative project between Illinois, Alaska, Taiwan, Canada, Costa Rica, Ireland, and Australia. It spanned grades 3-6. On the surface, it was a project to compare geography throughout the world by tracking data (temperature, precipitation and sunlight), and then discussing topics (animals, plants, and land forms). Each participating teacher agreed to provide the data and to participate in a conversation among classes. I could have left it there, but I used the project as a backbone to integrate my curriculum. In our district, the 5th grade curriculum includes:
- Ecosystems (Science)
- Compare and Contrast (Language Arts)
- Informational writing (Language Arts)
- Data and graphing (Math)
- Culture (Social Studies)
So to address those things, I included these aspects:
- Ecosystems: I used my science text-book as we worked. Then I assigned deeper investigative research on the relationship between sunlight, location to the equator, hemispheres, and the ecosystem.
- Compare and Contrast: Students chose two countries to compare and contrast animals and discussed how geographical location effected animal population.
- Informational writing: Students chose a country’s plant posting and wrote an informational piece after researching.
- Data and graphing: We used the data from around the world each month to graph and chart. We learned about mean, median, mode while comparing the counties and relating that to distance from the equator. I used my math book to teach these lessons while we worked.
- Culture: throughout the project, we discussed culture as we Skyped, discussed, interacted with kids and teachers.
In addition, we used edmodo.com as a place for students to interact directly. I taught digital and global citizenship, collaboration, and technology while we worked online. Schools participated on different levels and to different degrees, so I used that to frame my collaborative connections.
I chose Using Data to Understand the World in this example, but this can be done with any global project. So far this year, we have worked with iEARN and Flat Classroom, and through kidblog.org. This individualization can be done with any project, so start small. Also, take advantage of the other teachers out there. Educators that are online in global projects are there to mentor and help as well. There is an amazing network of teachers online that welcome questions with open arms, so don’t be shy! Professional generosity is abundant. Jump in!
Here are some great places to start: