- Getting Started Tips
- Getting Started Resources
- Sample Lesson Plan
- Sample Parent Letter
- Connecting to Standards
- Finding Funding
- Think about the learning goals you hope to accomplish by creating global learning experiences in your classrooms.
- Record what specific lessons, themes, or projects could be enhanced by showing students a global view?
- Record what projects could be enhanced by providing students with the opportunity to connect with other students beyond their school?
- Think about the hardware you might need to create some of these global learning experiences. Make a list of what you have and what you want or need (e.g., webcam, mic, digital camera).
- Start exploring the tools you hope to use on your own before introducing them to your classrooms (e.g., start a Twitter account yourself before creating one for your class).
- Consider trying to participate in a professional development course or program on creating a global classroom.
- Start small – design one lesson plan that integrates technology in a way that facilitates an interactive, global learning experience.
- Talk to you students
- Explain why you are introducing these technologies and how to use them in the classroom.
- Talk about the value of global learning experiences.
- Make time and space to hear and record their reactions.
- Try it! Begin a global learning project using one or more technologies to connect your students to another class around the globe.
- Global Learning Resources
- More Getting Started Tips
- Some tips from Asia Society (geared toward an older audience but some points are still applicable)
- Tips & Suggestions from Connect All Schools
- Tips for Building and Maintaining Successful Online Partnerships from iEARN
Although global learning experiences are generally long-term projects that do not begin and end in a single day, teachers did request sample lesson plans in the survey I conducted so I am providing an outline of a global learning experience in a preschool classroom using Voicethread. This would ideally be the beginning of a larger, ongoing project with a partner classroom.
Begin the lesson by connecting it to a current study or project occurring in your classroom. For example, you may be discussing nature and the changes that occur to nature in different seasons. You may have focused in on one or two specific inquiry questions related to this topic and you could help the children in your class begin to think and reflect on how those questions might be answered in another part of the world.
Initial Context:A preschool classroom in Massachusetts in the U.S. is examining this question: Is the tree on the playground green all year long? They have partnered with a preschool classroom in southern Australia to share this inquiry question. In response, this Australian preschool classroom has chosen a tree in their schoolyard to examine as well.
Materials: Computer, Projector, Speakers, Microphone (optional), Webcam (optional), Internet connection, access to www.voicethread.com
- Song – Start with a song to bring the group together
- Example: “Leaves on the Tree” (tune of “Wheels of the Bus”)
The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown…orange and brown…orange and brown
The leaves on the trees turn orange and brown
In the town.
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish… swish, swish, swish…Swish, swish, swish
The leaves on the ground go swish, swish, swish
Down to the ground
The leaves on the trees come tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down
The leaves on the trees coming tumbling down
Down to the ground
- Discussion –
- After everyone is quiet, revisit the discussion you have been having about the tree on the playground. Review what type of tree it is. What have the children recorded and documented about this tree?
- Guiding Questions –
- What do you think our Australian friends have recorded about their tree?
- Do you think they have found the same things we have found?
- What color is their tree?
- Do you think their tree is green all year?
- Record –
- Record children’s responses and explain how they will have a chance to ask these questions of their friends later.
- Set the Scene –
- Talk with children about the technology tool you will use (Voicethread). Explain what it is and why you are using it. Record any questions that come up in response to this discussion (e.g., But how will our friends see the Voicethread? How will they hear our questions?) and discuss the answers.
- Explain that you will create a class Voicethread to discuss their questions about their own tree and the tree in Australia. Let them know that during choice time, there will be a few areas open related to this project (e.g., a drawing station where they can create pictures of their tree to share; a science station where they can make observations and take pictures of the leaves they have gathered).
- Set up some interest areas with activities that are related to the project: drawing the tree, writing observations about the tree, taking pictures and looking at leaves under a magnifying glass.
- Observe the children working in these interest areas and document their explorations and work
- Help make connections between their work and how it will be presented using Voicethread, continue asking guiding questions related to their investigation of the tree at their school and the tree in Australia
- Read a book about Australia. Ask the children about any nature described or illustrated in the book. Make connections to their current study of nature and their tree.
Small Group – Tech Time:
- Have centers set up around the room, include a technology center. Have children come to you in small groups as you work on with a pre-created Voicethread that includes some of the children’s drawings and slides with short, typed questions the students are investigating.
- Have children record information about their drawings, questions for their Australian friends, and information about their own tree through one of the 5 commenting options.
- In addition to the traditional afternoon meeting topics and activities you usually discuss, save some time for your global learning project. Have your computer connected to the projector so you can show the children the result of their Voicethread creation. Discuss how you will post this on the class blog or email it to the class in Australia to share it so their Australian preschool friends can review it and make their own comments to add to the discussions.
As the project continues, the Voicethread could be revisited, added to, and saved as a documentation of the collaborative sharing and learning that occurred. Ideally you will have an opportunity to use the project as a starting ground to discuss more about nature and the environment around the world, how things can be different in other geographic locations, and how students can connect with and learn from friends in other parts of the world.
Global learning experiences in early childhood might be a new concept for some of the families and parents you work with. It is important to build strong relationships with families and staying in close communication with them is a key part of that process. This will help you to facilitate home-school connections and invite families to feel welcome in your classroom. One way to let families know what their children are learning about and to explain the global projects taking place in your classroom is to send home or email a letter to families/parents. Here is an example of a parent letter about the Google Earth project shown on the Current Projects page.
At times, your classroom may also be more technology-rich than children’s home environments. Looking for ways to open your classroom to parents so they too can learn through the technology and share these global learning experiences with their children is a great way to establish stronger home-school connections. An easy way to share resources while also building relationships is to invite parents to visit the classroom or if they cannot come to school during the day, hosting a few tech play dates or sharing nights where parents can come after work to explore the classroom technology. If your parents are tech-savy, you can also invite them to Skype with your classroom from home or the office to share something about their own culture, language, home country or other personal experience.
With the current testing climate and focus on early learning standards, it may feel challenging to try to incorporate global learning experiences while still fulfilling all of the standards you are required to cover with your students. Yet, global learning experiences and global collaborative projects can easily incorporate many learning standards!
- An article by B. Curran from Engaging Educators about global collaboration and A Formula for “Making it Fit” into the Curriculum
- Musings on Assessing Global Collaboration from M. Graffin, co-founder of the Global Classroom Project
Low on Tech? Need some funding to help bring technology to your classroom? Check out these resources:
- Nonprofit Recycling and Reuser Network
- TechSoup – donated technology products
- LEGO Children’s Fund – Grants for ECE & Tech
- Computers for Learning Program
- Find Grant Solutions via Hatch Early Childhood
- Donorschoose.org – a great resource for public school classrooms
- Digital Wish – any nonprofit serving PreK+ can register