Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Making Connections Across the Country

Collaboration is very important in our classroom.  We work together within our classroom walls and also reach out to other classrooms around the world to learn together, share our work and find out more about other people and places!

There are some important reasons why I believe this kind of collaboration is so important for my young learners:
  • learning about other communities, traditions, cultures and lifestyles
  • generating good questions to find out more about others
  • active listening to learn about others and answer our questions
  • being able to understand a question and provide an answer as a part of oral or written communication
  • learning how to use technology to work with others (which is now common in our everyday lives and in many careers)
  • fostering teamwork
  • learning geography - we often use mapping to find out where our partner classrooms are located, how far away they are from our location and how long it would take to drive to them
  • meeting curricular outcomes - often our collaborative work leads to learning projects which give authentic contexts for teaching and learning in various subject areas

Last week, we had the opportunity to meet a new classroom of friends from Milton, Ontario.  Ms. Dorland put out a request through the Microsoft Canada Education group on Yammer asking for other Grade 2 classrooms who would be willing to help her and her class with a special project.  I sent a message asking for more details and eventually we set a date for our classes to meet.

We were really excited to help these new learning partners with their first video conference call and we could definitely tell how excited they were to meet us!  Ms. Dorland's Grade 2s had lots of interesting questions to ask us and we had some questions for them too.  We couldn't quite fit all of our questions in, so we've continued communicating using Twitter.  My students were able to use our classroom tablets to "show" Ms. Dorland's class our playground - something they were curious about on our call.  Students worked with a partner to photograph something on our playground and compose a short message to send from our class Twitter account. 

Our class is finding it very interesting to learn about the weather, community, stores and even the playground in Milton.  We have found that there are lots of things we have in common, but also some differences too.  We are glad to work with some new people and we look forward to continuing the connection!

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