I wish I could somehow capture it and play it back. I wish I could show people what really happens when kids get engaged. I can only say this: Kids? They are amazing.
One of my groups is working on a project to explore how classrooms compare around the world. We’ve invited other classrooms to Skype with us and then, the project just sort of, um, grew. It’s become a full journey to travel the world from within our four walls. We brainstormed questions that we’d want to ask. We created a survey using Google Docs (Forms). Now? We’re setting up Skype times. Today we discussed what we wanted to do with the information we are gathering. “We could build a website.” So we did. Hours later, a student had drawn an amazing header, we had our first Skype session with a class in Canada, and our project had a name. It’s KnowGlobe, because the kids said “we are learning and trying to know more about the globe.”
This project? It’s all theirs.
Here are a few ways I plan to make it cross-curricular, because you-know, standards and stuff…
Math: We’re going to track temperatures, converting Celsius to Fahrenheit, and compare our temperatures to others. We’ll be calculating time zone differences. We’re going to calculate miles to the other location and keep a running grand total of ‘Virtual Miles’ that we travel. We can use the data later to calculate average distances traveled. We can create graphs to show temperatures, population, and whatever other data we end up collecting. Best of all? It’s REAL data. Not just numbers in a book.
Science: We can explore climates around the earth. We can investigate how different places have different timezones. We can research how various natural disasters threaten different parts of the world. We can ask about animals that live in the wild where other’s live and compare available habitats.
Social Studies: It IS all about geography, culture, and embracing the differences of others. We’ll also be hitting map skills, languages, holiday traditions, and timezones.
English Language Arts: Presentation skills are always practiced in a Skype call. Today with came up with Skype Etiquette, because being able to communicate is key as a 21st century learning. We’re also exploring research skills to learn about our locations before each call, summarizing skills as we write post-call reflections, questioning skills as we brainstorm what to ask, and vocabulary galore as we learn new words from new places.
Did I mention collaboration? Thinking? Problem Solving? Creativity? And making real, big connections as a global learning? Yeah, all that, too! So, we’ve got our site and we’ve gotten started. I don’t know what direction our project might take… but I’m going to continue to step back and let them drive. Because then? That’s when the real learning happens.