We live in a time when the world has become smaller than it has ever been. We seem to be able to locate, communicate with and almost be a part of other countries through the online communities that we interact with daily.
Our classrooms have expanded beyond the boundaries of the walls and cities that they inhabit. Our students are much more aware of life in other far-flung places in comparison to their own, and have a deeper sensitivity and global conscience compared to the generations before them, simply because they have a much clearer sense of their place in the world. The classroom extends far beyond the walls – we actually now teach in classrooms without walls.
So how can we, as educators, broaden our students’ sense of the global classroom that they exist in?
There are lots of ways to expand the classrooms walls and get your students interacting in a truly international environment:
Flat Stanley Project
This is all about the story of Flat Stanley who got ‘posted’ around the place because he had been flattened. The students have the opportunity to post their own Flat Stanley to other schools and students – whether by ‘snail mail’ of old or the more modern method of blogging, Edmodo or other social networking sites.
This is a wonderful way to engage with students from all around the world by reading and commenting on one another’s blogs. There is instant feedback from other students with the opportunity to post messages and questions to one another.
The Global Classroom Project
This project started with a teacher in Perth, Western Australia and has grown to 60 teachers, 1,300 students, 18 countries and all continents and is quoted as having “incredible potential to promote cross-cultural understanding; build teachers’ ICT expertise, and enable our students’ voices to be heard by authentic global audiences”.
It is all about becoming culturally aware and being part of a broad online community.
An online social networking community, which is set up for education purposes as well as broader audiences. It is completely safe for students and is easily monitored and a simple way to teach about ‘Netiquette’, especially the finer parts of communicating in a social networking forum.
A simple way for students to publsh and share their writing online, including publishing their voicethread of the piece.
I Spy Community
This is a part of a social studies focus where students share information about their community, highlighting their own culture as well as goods and services their country offers. They are able to compare and contrast their community with others by viewing and commenting on i-Spy projects from others from around the world.
Teddy Bears Around The World
This has been a lot of fun for the class to be a part of – it is all about taking photos of a class toy (ours is a Gruffalo!) and then sharing stories about learning and life in our country through the eyes (and writing) of the bear.
Get on board and get travelling, investigating and enjoying the world – and the blissful thing is that there is no need to even leave the building!