Connecting Classrooms – Opening the Classroom Door

A little over a year ago, I presented the Global Read Aloud to the teachers during an after school session and through my blog.  Many teachers inquired and a few found the project to be a great source of inspiration for using instructional technologies to engage students in meaningful reading and writing activities.  My posts can be found at the following links and provide a basic overview of this project: 
  1. Global Read Aloud Overview 2012
  2. Global Read Aloud Overview 2013
The goal of this project was to show how one book can create connections between classrooms around the world.  The book read this year, during a set six-week period, was Marty McGuire, and several teachers within Tri-Creek School Corporation made connections between several states and/or countries.  One teacher in particular made a lasting connection from this experience, and her experience was briefly shared at the board meeting hosted at Oak Hill.  
Last school year, Mrs. Haskin’s class made a lasting connection with another classroom about 700 miles away.  Little did either of us suspect that her connected co-teacher, Mrs. Ivey, would turn out to be such an outstanding and supportive teacher.  Since they first made contact, Mrs. Haskin’s and Mrs. Ivey’s classrooms have connected through the use of SkypeGoogle HangoutsNarrableEdmodoPadlet, and KidBlogs.  

With these web-tools, students were able to discuss the book and share activities that they completed related to the book.  In fact, through the use of web-based technologies, Kate Messner–the Author of the book–even answered her class’ question during the following Question & Answer session.  She acknowledges Mrs. Haskin’s class around the 24 second mark in the video.  Without of the use of the educational technologies provided to Mrs. Haskins, her students would not be involved in such a rich literacy experience.

Throughout last year and this year, Mrs. Haskins and Mrs. Ivey have continuously connected to plan classroom activities and to discuss learning opportunities in other content areas.  From this, Mrs. Haskins has stated, “We can be completely honest and unafraid to share ideas with each other.  From there, we are able to plan lessons that are authentic, engaging, and directly related to the content being taught.”

Sitting in on some of these planning sessions, I have noticed that Mrs. Haskins and Mrs. Ivey’s level of connectedness reminds me of the Collaborator and Confidant Level from the Rodd Lucier’s blog post on the 7 Degrees of Connectedness.  They truly trust their ideas and are not afraid to disagree when needed.

One of their recent endeavors has been virtual field trips and their students learned directly from meteorologists from the Weather Channel.  From what I heard, their classrooms were able to interact with the Weather Channel hosts, learn, and reflect on the experience together after the session.  This was all made possible through the use of the technologies provided by the district and by two teachers’ willingness to become connected educators.

The following video was created to reflect on their classroom connection and their students’ projects shared during the Global Read Aloud this year.    

The most important aspect of their connection is their willingness to share and open their classroom doors.  With a higher level of collaboration, teachers will see the value in opening their doors to invite other reflective practitioners to improve their teaching practice. 
More classrooms and teachers need to connect like this.  I am not suggesting that every classroom open their doors to classes across the country, but at least look down the hallway or across the district.  Connect with another classroom from one of the other elementary schools within the district.  We have the technology to make these connections and to make learning more authentic.  

About @hoosier_teacher

Instructional Designer, I help make sense of workplace, work, and worker interactions in order to create comprehendible and practical training programs.

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