Monday, November 14, 2016

Let's Collaborate: Globally

Global Collaboration Projects sound cool...

However, I lacked enthusiasm for this particular assignment. In the early childhood world, students cannot yet fluently read and write. They are learning early literacy and math concepts, which they will build on as they go through school

For this reason, getting students involved in a global collaboration project means I will have to be facilitating and organizing each step. Most of this collaboration will need to use video conferencing tools or other pictorial and visual representations to make the project meaningful for such young students. I experienced some anxiety in feeling like this might be out of reach for my very young students.

Fortunately, I was able to find some really simple ideas for early childhood global collaboration ideas. This is the project I would begin with:

SkypePlay: Mardelle Sauerborn
The simplicity of this project is so appealing to me as a preschool teacher!! The best explanation comes from the linked blog post above,

     "The purpose of this PlayProject is to play in real time with other children in other places.                     Building on traditional Skype projects like MysterySkype and Skyping in experts,  this moves
      into giving children 1:1 or 2:2  peer to peer audience for their play that provides immediate
      interaction, collaboration, and conversation." Mardelle Sauerborn

Children have a very unique ability to almost automatically connect with each other when engaged in meaningful play-based experiences. Global friends can encourage students to engage with students from a different background and location while participating in meaningful play. I would collaborate with another teacher to decide what materials each of students would be engaged in during the SkypePlay. Students freely move from center to center in my classroom. The computer or iPad we are using to Skype would remain at one center while students flow in and out of that particular center.

Here is a really great example which demonstrates the simplicity and engagement students have in something like this:

SkypePlayVid from Mardelle on Vimeo.

This is a way I would like to start with global collaboration within my preschool classroom. I feel the approach is very developmentally appropriate and engaging for students.

I'd like to eventually expand this, using something like Skype to have my students interact with students living on a coast or in a warm climate while we have snow on the ground. That type of weather/climate based project would be my next stepping stone from this.

These last couple of weeks have been overwhelmingly odd to me as a grad student. Unfortunately, our attempts to reach out to global counterparts were met with challenges and ultimately didn't end up working out. I found this annoying, and also relieved. I was surprised that I felt relieved, this feeling really speaks to my personality of stepping out of the box when encouraged, and of my true desire to remain in my box when comfortable. I have many global teachers I follow on Twitter and have been to a few different conferences this school year (I'm writings this at the Iowa Culture and Language Conference). It's very different for me if I get to pick who I collaborate with!!

The only thing I might have done differently might have been to allow teachers to make contact on their own with some of their Twitter friends we found earlier in this class. I have a hunch that some of my Twitter chat friends would have been willing to make a quick video with me. I liked the Twitter project because we had to reach out intentionally on our own which meant we could tailor our Twitter conversations to our teaching. I want to remember this when thinking of global collaboration projects with my students! Maybe they have a particular topic they want to learn about or something that really gets them excited. If they have more choices and a higher level of personal interest in whatever global project we choose, the project will end up more productive.

How about you?! Have you ever had a lesson go off-track or just not work out? If so, what did you do?

Thanks for reading! Peters out!