3 Easy Ways to Make Global Connections with Students

#EdublogsClub Prompt 7 – The Listicle

Becoming a global educator is very important in today’s society.  Even the youngest children can benefit from making global connections but many teachers have no idea how to get started.  Here are some easy ways to make that happen.

  • Make Connections with Blogs – Blogging is an easy way for students to get connected with other classrooms around the world.  Two of my favorite websites to use for that are “The 100 Word Challenge” and the “Student Blogging Challenge.”  Each challenge has a weekly writing prompt to give the children a topic to write about and each encourages the participants to leave comments for others.  Both of these challenges are rich with international participants which provide my students the opportunity to get into conversations with children around the world.
  • Video Conferencing – Using Skype and Google Hangouts to speak with other classrooms is a big thrill for my students.  Not only are we learning about others around the world, but the children are learning the 21st century skills of asking and answering questions.  Our favorite type is the Mystery Location where the children ask questions to figure out the location of the other school.  We’ve also done video conferences with scientists studying penguins in Antarctica, a marine biologist who works with sharks in Bimini and several authors.  One of the best places to get started finding partners is Microsoft Education’s Skype in the Classroom website.  If you’d like more information about how to go about doing a Mystery Location Skype, you can read the guest blog post I wrote a few years ago on Corkboard Connections which is linked to the photo below. 
  • Global Projects – Another way to make global connections is to take part in an organized global project.  Here are a few of my favorites.
    • The Global Read Aloud is a global project centered around the love of a good book.  This project kicks off in October.  You make connections with another class and then discuss the book as each teacher reads it aloud.
    • Projects by Jen is a sight that runs several projects throughout the year.  Our favorite is the OREO Project that runs in September.
    • The Peace Crane Project is a project that stems from International Peace Day in September but it runs all year long.  Participants each fold paper cranes with messages of peace and send them to the other school.
    • If you are looking for a more intense project, try a Flat Connections Project.  There are different projects for children ages K-12.  Each project lasts for about 12 weeks and they are rich with international participants.  Julie Lindsay and her project managers run an awesome support system for participants.  This project got me started and made me the global educator that I am today.
    • My students are just getting started in a global project called If You Learned Here.  In this project the participants create a global eBook and use it to ask and answer questions about school and life in other classrooms.

Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and become a global educator!  Trust me, once you give it a try, you will never go back.  You will see the excitement and learning opportunities for your students and realize that it’s easy, fun and totally worth it.

Favorite Free Web Tool – Wizer.me

Last month I signed up to take part in the #EdublogsClub – a weekly writing club for educators to blog about a different topic each week. I’ve been so busy that they are on prompt 5 and I am just having time to get started. This week’s theme is to share your favorite free web tools and I’m happy to provide my thoughts on this topic.

Online Worksheet GeneratorWizer.me  Our school is is a GAFE school and the students are 1:1 with chromebooks.  We are trying to get away from running off paper and doing more work online.  However, there are often times when I’d like my 3rd grade students to have a bit more practice in something that we are learning.  With Wizer.me, I can create a digital worksheet for my students to complete.  Once I log in, I select a theme and decide what type of question I need from a wide variety of choices which are listed below.  Some questions also offer an option for students to leave a voice recorded message instead of a typed answer.

Once I choose my question format, it is very easy to write up the questions.  At the same time I write the questions, I can also input the answers so the test will be self marking, or I can leave them open ended to review myself.  When I have completed the test, I save it.  Here is an example of one section of a Science worksheet that I recently made.

My next step is to assign the worksheet to my students.  There are several different ways to assign the worksheet using Google Classroom, Edmodo, a private link, a pin number or an embed code.

I usually assign the worksheet via Google Classroom.  At home my students log into their Google Classroom account and click on the link to view and complete the worksheet.  When they finish they hit the “Hand in Work” button at the bottom.  Then next day I log into my teacher account on Wizer.me and I can view each individual worksheet that a student has submitted to see how many they got correct or incorrect.

My students enjoy this format of homework much more then doing a paper worksheet.  They love using technology so this is fun to them.  I enjoy the fact that they are reviewing the material at home and we didn’t have to waste extra paper in the process.  To preview this entire worksheet, click here –  Ecosystem Science Worksheet

Wizer.me worksheets can be created and completed on any device and it is completely free.  Some of my favorite things about this site are the variety of question types and the fact that my students don’t have to join a separate platform to complete the worksheets.  Another great option for teachers is the ability to search for and use worksheets created by other members.   I am very happy to have found this resource for this school year!

I hope this post was helpful to you!  Feel free to ask questions or share ideas by leaving me a comment.  I’d love to hear about what new web tool you are using with your students this year!

Our First Breakout Edu Game

This week in my 3rd grade classroom we tried our first ever BreakoutEdu game.  This game is similar to the Escape the Room places for adults.  In Breakout Edu, there are boxes with locks that have to be opened.  The locks are varied: directional lock, color lock (on an iPad), 4 digit lock, 3 digit lock and a word lock.  

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The children work in teams and look for clues around the room to solve the puzzles and find the required information.  Once they think have all of the puzzles solved correctly, they get 2 minutes to try to open all of the locks.  This games provides practice with teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and troubleshooting.

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This first game that I tried was a Back to School themed game based on the book, If You Take A Mouse to School.  The premise was that the mouse came into our room and stole some of our school supplies.  Since I have 26 students, I set up 2 boxes and put the children into 8 teams.  So 4 teams worked on each box.  I purchased one box from the company (for about $100) and I created the other box myself using an ammo box and buying the rest of the locks at Home Depot and Amazon.

Clues for each lock where hidden around the room.  One puzzle required the students to use a UV flashlight to find hidden letters.

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Another was a clue to the directional lock.

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Do you see a clue to the 4 digit lock in this play about the book? (You’ll have to look closely)

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Once clue was locked inside of a smaller box and it was a QR code to an online jigsaw puzzle that the students had to solve.

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Another puzzle was a secret code where the students had to find the key to figure it out.

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I did not want the students to get frustrated, so they were allowed to ask me for a hint if they were having a lot of difficulty.  Not too many had to get hints though.

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They were very excited when they broke out!

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I found this to be an awesome first day of school activity that the students really enjoyed!  Some of the things they liked best were being able to work with their friends, the fact that the puzzles were challenging, feeling great when they figured it all out, and being able to move around and talk while they worked.  Breakout Edu has many topic themed games for all age groups and the best part is that they are all FREE!  There is also a wonderful Breakout Edu Facebook group where teachers are sharing new games and ideas.  It is a great place to ask questions and get support.  I am happy that I found this wonderful resource and I look forward to trying another game with my students next month.

Skype with England

Today we had the wonderful experience of Skyping with our Flat Stanley buddies from England.  Mr. Holder and several of his students from Greenfield Primary School in Stourbridge, England exchanged Flat Friends with us by mail and have also been connecting with us via our blogs for the last several months.  As a culminating activity, we decided to do a Skype video conference with them to speak in person.  Each class prepared some information and photos to share about our country, school, hobbies, foods, sports, and more.  We talked for about 80 minutes and really enjoyed it.  Thanks so much to Mrs. Julia Skinner from the 100 Word Challenge Writing Prompt for bringing us together!  Check out the video below to see us in action.  We loved listening to their accents as I’m sure they enjoyed hearing ours as well.  What a wonderful way to end our school year!  Thank you!

Skype with England 2016 from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.

Playing Quizlet Live – Beta Game

I’ve been using the website Quizlet for several years now to practice vocabulary with my students.  It’s great because once I create the cards, the children can search for me and play games with them at home or at school through the app or website.  Today we had the awesome opportunity to try the Beta version of the new Quizlet Live game!  I used this team based game to review Reading vocabulary words with my students.  The game was based on a set of game cards I had in my Quizlet account.  Once I launched the game via my Quizlet account, the children went to Quizlet.live on their iPads to log in.  Students can use phones, computers or iPads to play.  They put in my game code and their name.  Then the site automatically assigned them to a team.

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Teams where given cute animal names like ostrich, koala, and panda and a photo of that animal showed up on their screen.  The teams were also shown on my Smartboard.  When the students were sitting with their teammates, I started the game.IMG_5573

Each round asked 12 questions.  The same question showed up on each student’s device in a team, but the answer choices for each student were different.  The children had to read all of the answer choices between them and discuss which was correct before they submitted.

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While they were playing on their individual devices, my Smartboard was showing which team was in the lead.  The first team to get all of their answers correct won the game.  If a team answered a question wrong, however, they lost ALL of their points!

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As soon as one team answered all 12 questions correctly, the game shut down for everyone and they were declared the winner.  At the end of the game, teachers can see results that show what terms the students got right and which ones they struggled with.

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My 3rd graders just adored this game and asked to play it over several times in a row!  It was a super fun way for them to work together to practice vocabulary words.  As I mentioned, this game is in Beta testing right now.  Only those who have a paid Teacher account on Quizlet have access.  Teachers who don’t have a paid account can go on their waiting list or get access by being invited by another teacher.  Special thanks to my daughter’s 12th grade teacher, Sharon Hartranft, for inviting me to have access and to my daughter for telling me how much the 12th graders enjoyed this new game.  I think Quizlet Live might give Kahoot a run for it’s money with this fun new game!

Watch the video below to see the game in action in my classroom.  Click HERE to get more information and instruction from the Quizlet site.

Playing Quizlet Live from Tina Schmidt on Vimeo.

 

Book Review Using Tellagami

This week my students used the app Tellagami to create a book review about a good story that they have read recently.  They took a photo of the book to use as the background of the Gami.  Next they changed the look of the avatar, then they recorded their voice telling about the book.  They really enjoyed this project and it was a fun way to practice our listening and speaking!  To see our book reviews, click here – Tellagami Book Reviews 

 

Adobe Voice Social Studies Project

This week my students used the Adobe Voice app to create a digital project about either one of the Branches of Government or a National Symbol.  I love the simplicity of Adobe Voice.  Students can search for clip art or real photos right in the app.  They can add text, choose from different layouts and themes, record their voice and add music.  I find it much easier to create a video of pictures with Adobe Voice then on iMovie.  Finished projects save to the camera roll.  I had the students submit their projects to me via Google Classroom and then I was easily able to embed them in a blog post to share.  Hope you enjoy our videos!

Skype with Antartica

On Friday, we were thrilled to do a Skype with Jean Pennycook in Antartica.  Jean is a researcher who is there studying Adelie penguins to watch them lay and hatch eggs.  When we talked to Jean it was 1 pm for us on Friday but her time was 7 am on Saturday morning.  Jean spends her days watching the penguins and taking notes and photos.  The penguins have laid their eggs and the chicks should be hatching any day now.  Jean was talking to us live from the site of the nests so we could see the penguins in the background moving around.  They were so cute!!  My students were able to ask questions about the penguins and Jean told them the answers as well as explaining how scientists find out that information.   Click HERE to see some video from our Skype.  Please check out my students’ writing on our Kidblogs to learn more about Adelie penguins.  To learn more about the research going on in Antarctica, check out their website – Penguin Science.  Special thanks to Jean and Skype in the Classroom for making this free Skype possible!

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Mystery Skype with Hawaii

Yesterday we traveled 4,900 miles for an exciting Mystery Skype session with Mrs. Lausensei and an 8th grade class from Punahou Middle School in Honolulu!  It was their first time doing one so it made my 3rd graders feel good to be showing the ropes to the big kids.  My students started narrowing down their location.  We found out that they were west of the Mississippi River and then that they bordered the Pacific Ocean.  They figured out that the other class did not border Mexico so it couldn’t be California.  When they found out it wasn’t Oregon or Washington state they were a bit confused.  So they asked me – Didn’t they say they bordered the Pacific Ocean?  I told them to think about what other state it could be that still bordered the Pacific.  Then Sophia said, “I’m going to ask if they border Canada because maybe it’s Alaska!”  Once they got the answer of no to her question, Isabelle said in surprise, “It’s Hawaii!”  I really enjoyed watching them put on their thinking caps and work through that.  The other class guessed our location first but we still have a fun time.  At the end, we shared our PA facts with them and they told us a little bit about Hawaii – made of 8 islands, a lot of delicious fruit, and they rarely see snow.  We told them it was a warm December so far for us and it was 55 degrees out today.  They thought that was cold as it was 78 degrees there for them.  Thanks for a great Mystery Skype session!

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