Our World, Our Numbers Global Project

My class is currently involved in a wonderful global project called Our World, Our Numbers.

We launched Our World, Our Numbers alongside our blogging buddies on Monday 25th February.  

In late 2011, many of us worked on a global project called Our World, Our StoriesThis latest project is based on a similar format with a mathematical focus.

In late 2011 I reflected on the fabulous outcomes from the Our World, Our Stories project.

Classes involved

The students are all from primary (elementary) classes and are from three different continents and five countries.

Mr Avery’s sixth grade class from Massachusetts, USA

Mrs Monaghan’s 3/4 class, Room with a View, from England

Mrs Morris and Miss Jordan’s grade four class, 4KM and 4KJ, from Victoria, Australia

Mrs McKenzie’s 2/3 class, B4, from New Zealand

Mrs Yollis’ 2/3 class from California, USA

Mr Salsich’s third grade class from Connecticut, USA

Mrs Watson’s K/1/2/3 class from Canada


View Our World, Our Numbers in a larger map

How does the project work?

Students from all classes are connecting and collaborating by sharing their mathematical lives. This is happening through the blog and involves a variety of media.

A different class “leads” a mathematical topic every week or so, publishing posts and replying to comments. The other classes read the posts, possibly publish their own posts, and leave blog comments.

Topics

The topics so far have been:

Our future topics will involve mathematical elements of animals, area/populations and seasons/temperatures.

The learning

Through blog posts, the students teach each other about different aspects of mathematics based on aspects of their own culture.

The learning continues in the commenting section where students, teachers and parents engage in conversations to explore mathematical and cultural topics further.

Students are gaining an understanding of mathematics through the eyes of children in different countries and cultures. They are making comparisons and contrasts between their lives and other students’ lives.

Concluding the project

This project will conclude in mid-May. Stayed tuned for a culminating celebration then!

Our World, Our Numbers is a project we came up with ourselves. If you want some advice on how to start your own global project, read my post “Start Your Own Global Project”.

Fun and Games

So many rewards can come out of connections made through blogging and global collaboration.

I love watching my students learn about literacy, maths, geography, technology, history and all sorts of things about life around the world with their blogging buddies. It is such an authentic and memorable way to learn.

Last November when we were working on the Our World, Our Stories project, Mrs Yollis’ class shared one of their favourite playground games, Bamboo.

This video below, courtesy of Linda Yollis and her students, explains the game.

Bamboo became an instant hit. As Mrs Yollis’ class describe in this November post, our blogging friends around the world quickly started enjoying this unique game.

Three months on, Bamboo is still extremely popular at our school. Students from my 2011 class have introduced the game to the other students, and every lunchtime and recess the parallel bars are swamped by children of all ages.

I remember being at school and learning new games from students who had come from other schools, or from friends and neighbours who went to other schools. Now children from all over the world can so easily connect for fun and learning!

How can we encourage student centred sharing?

Reflection on Our World, Our Stories

The Our World, Our Stories project has come to an end this week. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of 2011 for my class.

My grade two students worked with classes in the USA, Canada, Belize, New Zealand and Ghana to share their stories and learn about how others live.

We used our blog http://ourworldourstories.edublogs.org as our central meeting place.

Our World Our Stories Blog

For seven weeks, the students blogged, commented and conversed about a wide range of topics. 30 posts and over 700 comments were published.

Week One: Typical School Day

Week Two: Recess Activities

Week Three: Food

Week Four: Our Local Environment

Week Five: Traditional Stories and Festivities

Week Six: Traditional Song

Week Seven: Final Celebration

Highlights of the Our World, Our Stories project:

  • Seeing the students excited about learning. The beauty of this project was that it was authentic. Learning about other cultures by reading a book is no longer enough for today’s generation. Our students can now develop friendships and have ongoing conversations to learn about others. Seeing my students curious about how other people live and coming up with such a wide range of questions was a real highlight.
  • Creating a joint reading of Mem Fox and Leslie Staub’s book Whoever You Are as one of our culminating activities. This picture book was perfect as the message was based around the idea that everyone in the world is different but we’re all equal. The most exciting part was that Mem and Leslie commented on our blog and brought such joy to our young students. This was truly a moment that many students will remember for life.
  • Recording a song together to celebrate the friendships we’d made. All the classes had different interests but we found singing was a common highlight for many students. The ‘traditional song’ week was very popular. Linda Yollis and her music teacher, Mr B, were the masterminds behind our joint performance of Make New Friends. Check it out!
  • Working with such dedicated and passionate teachers. As our students are quite young, the structure of this project was organised by the teachers with input from the students. It was a real pleasure to work with the other teachers who work so hard to create exceptional learning experiences for their students. This is was not the first time we have worked together and it won’t be the last.
  • Being nominated for an Edublog Award and inspiring others. Our World, Our Stories has been nominated for Best Group Blog in the 2011 Edublog Awards. Vote here! It was also pleasing to see some teachers liked our idea so much that they created their own spin off! Update: we won! Find out more http://ourworldourstories.edublogs.org/2011/12/15/we-won-an-edublog-award/.
  • Global collaborative projects are one of my very favourite aspects of teaching. I’m excited to see where global collaboration will take us in 2012!

    For those of you who have followed Our World, Our Stories, what has been your highlight?

    What have your students got out of collaborating with others?

    QuadBlogging Video

    QuadBlogging is something I have blogged about here earlier this year.

    The term QuadBlogging was coined by David Mitchell.

    The concept: four blogging classes come together and learn about one another one week at a time. Each week a different blog in the quad is the focus and the other three classes take the time to visit and comment on their blog.

    Earlier this year, Linda Yollis, Jonah Salsich, Judy McKenzie, Kelly Jordan and I all decided we’d make our own quad.

    *Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog, California, U.S.A.*
    *Open the Door to B-4  in New Zealand*
    *Mr. Salsich Class Blog, Connecticut, U.S.A*
    *2KM and 2KJ  in Australia *

    This works really well and we wanted to share the message with other classes. Teachers and students from all four classes got together recently to collaborate on a video about QuadBlogging. We used the tool Sliderocket which was easy to use and effective.

    Thanks to Linda Yollis who put the final product together!


    Visit http://quadblogging.net/ for more information and to become part of a quad.

    Start Your Own Global Project

    Last week I blogged about Our World, Our Stories which is a new global project my class is involved in.

    2008 was the year that I began blogging and also collaborating globally with my students. Since then, our experiences of collaboration have become more integrated, frequent, richer and self-initiated.

    It is an amazing experience to see your young students communicating, conversing and learning with children from all corners of the globe.

    What is a global project?

    I define a global project as any sort of collaborative project that involves two or more classes from different schools/countries. There is usually a defined purpose and structure to the project. The learning is usually documented and shared on an online space such as a blog. Some global projects have a culminating event.

    A common starting point

    My first experiences with global projects involved my students joining pre-organised projects. When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to think of the project idea and find your own connections. There are agencies and groups that can do this for you. You might want to check out The Global Classroom Project, iEARN or ePals if you need a starting place.

    When you and your students are familiar with the concept of working with other classes, you might want to think about starting your own global project. I have found this is very beneficial because you can customise the learning experience to meet your students’ precise needs and interests.

    Here are 10 steps, based on my own experiences, to starting your own global project.

    1. What do you want your students to get out of a project? As teachers, this is the question we’re always asking ourselves when planning new experiences. If you start with this question in mind, you will be more likely to help your students achieve their full potential. Clearly we all have systematic standards we need to be covering in our classrooms. Global projects don’t have to be an add-on. They can be an authentic and innovative way to teach and go beyond core standards.

    2. Find teachers/classes to connect with. Twitter is my number one place to find a diverse range of educators to connect with. If you have a class blog, you might find this list of blogs around the world useful. It was compiled by Sue Waters to help teachers find other classes to connect with. When deciding how many classes to connect with, my suggestion is to start small and see how you go. I have found that the benefits from global connections comes from quality over quantity.

    3. Decide on project outcomes. Discuss with the other teachers what you want your students to learn and document this somewhere (I use Google Docs when collaborating with other teachers). The learning outcomes may differ for different classes but of course would have a common thread. Sometimes the outcome might be based on making an impact in the world (such as our Ugandan Global Project) or simply based on student learning and development (such as Our World, Our Stories).

    4. Come up with a timeline/structure. Once again, I use Google Docs to create a table that outlines each week that the project will run with ideas for activities/themes/milestones. Of course, this is just a guide and a working document.

    5. Create an online space. I think of an online space, such as a blog, as a place where the classes can meet, collaborate, converse and learn together. Of course the online space doesn’t have to be a blog; it could be a wiki, YouTube channel, VoiceThread or any sort of web 2.0 tool. When using a blog for a global project, such as our Collaboration Corner blog, one teacher can start the blog and add the various teachers as administrators.

    6. Regularly connect with the teachers. When working on a global project with other classes, I use Google+ Hangout, Skype, Twitter, email or Google Docs to stay in touch with the teachers. I find projects are generally more successful when the teachers are working harmoniously behind the scenes to steer the learning in a forward direction.

    7. Involve the community. Publicise your project to parents, the school community and your PLN. A global project is a fabulous opportunity for students to work with a diverse range of individuals in their community near and far.

    Research has shown that where effective partnerships exist, the quality of schooling improves, students enjoy more satisfying educational experiences, and communities are strengthened.(http://www.familyschool.org.au)

    8. Be organised but flexible. The great thing about global projects is there is so much extra learning that is unexpected but powerful. I have found global projects work best when they they have a clear framework but also a large degree of flexibility to pursue student interest and curiosity.

    9. Culminate the project. A culminating event can be a satisfying way for students to showcase and celebrate their learning. This could be a movie, fundraising event, song, Skype party, digital story, community event or art display. The possibilities are only limited by the imaginations of the teachers and students.

    10. Review your project. Naturally you learn from every involvement in global projects. Be sure to discuss with your students what worked and what ideas they have for next time. A thorough debrief and reflection can lead to even more powerful outcomes next time!

    What other questions or advice do you have about global projects?


    Our World, Our Stories

    Next week, my class will be joining in with many of their “blogging buddies” from around the world in a new global project.

    This project is called Our World, Our Stories and the blog  http://ourworldourstories.edublogs.org/ will be our central meeting place.

    After months of planning, we look forward to launching this seven week project on Monday 24th October.

    Our World Our Stories Blog

    Classes involved

    The students are all from junior primary classes and are from three different continents and six different countries.

    2KM and 2KJ from Victoria, Australia

    B4 from New Zealand

    Mrs Yollis’ third grade class from California, USA

    Mr Salsich’s third grade class from Connecticut, USA

    Melody Watson’s 2/3 class from Canada

    Andy Sefa Boachie and his students from Ghana

    Miss Usher’s standard 3 class from Punta Gorda, Belize


    View Our World, Our Stories in a larger map

    How will it work?

    Students from all classes will connect and collaborate by sharing their stories, experiences, thoughts and opinions about a variety of themes. This will happen through the blog and involve a variety of media.

    A different class will “lead” a topic each week, publishing posts and moderating comments. Topics will be based on students’ interests such as school games, hobbies, food, local environment etc. The other classes will read the posts, possibly publish their own posts, and students will leave blog comments.

    The learning

    Through the blog comments, students from the different classes will have conversations. Students will gain an understanding of different countries and cultures. They will make comparisons and contrasts between their lives and other students’ lives.

    The students will reflect on their own experiences and hopefully develop a curiosity about other students’ stories. They will develop a voice to share their own stories.

    Concluding the project

    Stayed tuned for a culminating celebration in December!

    If you want to keep up to date with how the fun and learning unfolds, there is a “subscribe via email” box on the right hand side of the Our World, Our Stories blog.

    I have received a number of questions about how to organise your own global project so I will be posting a guide on this blog soon. Stay tuned!

    Connecting with Other Classes Through Blogging

    One of the things I love most about blogging with my class is the global connections we have developed. When I first started blogging in 2008, I didn’t even think about the possibility of connecting with other classes. It was a good six months before we started to cross paths with other blogging classes around the world.

    One of the first connections we made was with Mrs Yollis’ third grade class in California. Read one of the first posts about our friendship on Mrs Yollis’ class blog here. Our friendship has now developed over three years of blogging with different cohorts of students.

    There have been so many highlights from our connection with Mrs Yollis’ class. Apart from regular conversations through comments on each others blogs, we have skyped a number of times, worked on many collaborative projects together and one of my students has even visited Mrs Yollis’ class. Excitingly, that number will increase to two this week!

    Photo courtesy Linda Yollis

    Riley meets Mrs Yollis! Photo courtesy Linda Yollis

    On a personal level, I have learnt so much from Linda Yollis and she has shown me the power of setting high standards for students, involving families and taking risks (among other things).

    Mrs Yollis’ class is not the only class we call our blogging buddies. There are classes from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and Australia featured on our blogroll who we have had meaningful connections with.

    I have found many teachers are inspired to embark on blogging with their class when they realise what a powerful avenue for global collaboration blogs are.

    Here are some tips for forming friendships with other blogging classes:

    DO

    • Visit Sue Waters’s compilation of class blogs from around the world and add your blog to the list.
    • Work on building your own PLN. Twitter is a great meeting place for teachers who want their classes to connect.
    • Show a genuine interest in blogs you start commenting on and work on being an active member of the blogging community.
    • Find blogs that are at a similar stage to you. If you have just started blogging, you might get more out of a connection with someone at a similar stage as you rather than someone who has been blogging for many years with an extensive blogroll.
    • Hunt for like minded educators. The teachers I have bonded most with are those who have classes around the same age group, who post at a similar frequency, who have a regular online presence and who share similar teaching philosophies and goals for blogging.
    • Keep blogging relationships student centred. While I enjoy collaborating with other teachers, our core business is the students. Help students to get to know their blogging buddies, develop their relationships and extend their learning.
    • Smart small by getting into the routine of commenting on your new buddies’ blogs before delving in to more structured collaboration.
    • Encourage parents to be part of your blogging community and comment on your buddies’ blogs or attend Skype sessions. Blogging is something your whole school community can be a part of!

    DON’T

    • Rush in to finding blogging buddies before you establish your class blog. I have found it is most beneficial to ensure your students know the basics of blogging such as safety, etiquette and quality commenting before embarking on collaborative ventures.
    • Start writing comments on random blogs simply saying “please visit my blog”. I see this all too often! Like all friendships, blogging relationships require give and take and develop from genuine interest.
    • Introduce your students to too many different blogs at once. In 2009, I tried to have my students comment on and keep up with dozens of different blogs which only resulted in confusion for both me and my class. We launched this year with our Quad Blogging project and have three core blogs we visit regularly. Additionally, we have a variety of other blogs that we drop in on on a semi-frequent basis which were introduced after we got to know our Quad Blogging buddies. We get a LOT of people visiting our blog and asking us to connect with their class but there is only so much we can do. I no longer feel compelled to start ongoing relationships with ALL of our visitors.
    • Give up – if you have trouble finding a suitable class to connect with or finding time to develop relationships, keep trying! It is worth it.

    DSC07449

    What are your tips for forming friendships with other blogging classes?

    Skype in the Classroom

    As I have blogged about many times in the past I love to flatten my classroom walls and collaborate globally with my students.

    I have found Skype to be a wonderful tool for collaboration. It is easy, free and has countless uses.

    Skyping can bring learning to life!

    In my grade two class we have skyped our blogging buddies many times and have also skyped “experts”. There are so many other uses for Skype, and for teachers of languages, I view Skype as a vital tool!

    When I have told other educators about the potentials of Skype, they often ask how can they find other classes to skype and collaborate with. In the past, there were various roundabout ways to make connections but now there is a one stop shop called Skype in the Classroom.

    http://education.skype.com

    On Skype in the Classroom, teachers create a profile about themselves, their class, their location and interests. They can then browse through a directory of international teachers interested in skyping to find someone they’d like to connect with. From there, it is as simple as adding the teacher as a Skype contact and introducing yourself.

    Skype in the classroom is in beta, which means it is still being developed and refined.

    I was involved in the initial trials of Skype in the Classroom in late 2010. While I found it extremely easy to use and valuable, I signed off as I was receiving more offers to collaborate than I could manage!

    If you are new to collaboration or looking for specific types of contacts, Skype in the Classroom may be a useful tool for you. It makes collaboration so easy; the only issue you may face is the isolating time zone here in Australia!

    skype in the classroom

    If you don’t know how to set up Skype, check out the Tech Tools for Teachers newsletter we wrote last year.

    How do you use Skype in your classroom?

    How would you like to use Skype in the future?

    Have you signed up for Skype in the Classroom?

    QuadBlogging

    Update: David Mitchell launched the official QuadBlogging site in June 2011. Click here to find it. This is the place to go to sign up for quad blogging and find out all about it.

    ****

    If you’re on Twitter you may have heard the term QuadBlogging being thrown around lately. I first heard about it from Pam Thompson who started QuadBlogging with her year 6/7 class in January.

    QuadBlogging is an idea that  David Mitchell came up with.

    The concept: four blogging classes come together and learn about one another one week at a time. Each week a different blog in the quad is the focus and the other three classes take the time to visit and comment on their blog.

    The benefits: The alliance will help each class increase their readership while flattening their classroom walls and learning about the wonderful world we live in.

    How to get involved: If you visit Mr Mitchell’s blog you can enter some details about your class to be put together in a quad.

    As I’ve been blogging with my class now for a number of years, I didn’t need to be matched with other classes. Linda Yollis, Jonah Salsich, Judy McKenzie, Kelly Jordan and I all decided we’d make our own quad.

    *Mrs. Yollis’ Classroom Blog, California, U.S.A.*
    *Open the Door to B-4  in New Zealand*
    *Mr. Salsich Class Blog, Connecticut, U.S.A*
    *2KM and 2KJ  in Australia *

    Mosaic Final quad blogging yollis

    Starting this week, we are taking turns to put one of our blogs in the spotlight.

    Each class has published a post directing their readers to the focus blog. This week, our focus is Mrs Yollis’s class blog.

    Click here to check out our first post about QuadBlogging on our class blog.

    Below is a visual adapted from Mr Mitchell’s work to demonstrate how QuadBlogging works.

    What do you think about QuadBlogging?

    What other methods do you use to increase readership and get to know other global classes?

    2011 School Year Begins

    Today was the first day back at school for teachers in Victorian Government Schools.

    All schools are spending the first three days on professional development and planning.

    This year my school is focussing on in-house professional development. Each Monday night teachers will be presenting on Literacy, Numeracy and ICT. I am in charge of ICT professional development.

    Last year, I set up a weekly lunch time ICT Drop in Session for teachers to assist them with blogging, IWBs and general ICT questions. I hope to continue with this this year to follow up on my Monday night sessions.

    Today I presented to my staff about ICT. My guidelines were broad so I decided to offer my Top Ten Tips to Integrate Technology in the Classroom.

    The ideas in the presentation are some of the areas that I will cover in PDs throughout the year. I knew not everything in the presentation would appeal to all teachers however I hoped there was something to inspire everyone.

    The highlight of the presentation was skyping with the wonderful Linda Yollis in California, USA. Linda not only spoke about some of the ways she had used Skype in the classroom but demonstrated how Skype is actually used for those teachers who were unfamiliar with this tool.

    How does your school structure professional development?

    What are you focussing on at the start of the school year?

    What would you include in your Top Ten Tips for Technology Integration?