The Connected Student

I have written several posts about the power of being a connected educator and its many benefits and so many of us on Twitter have been reaping the benefits for years!  I love this sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth:

Connected Educator

This has gotten me thinking that one of the crucial reasons we connect is to benefit our students, right?!

Isn’t it then imperative to connect them to one another in and outside of school?

This was the main message of Shannon Miller keynote to a group of Teacher-Librarians at ISTE based on her experiences in the Van Meter Library.

Giving Students access to technology is

The full video can be found here (fast forward to 10:15 for her keynote).  She is a champion for students and giving them opportunities to connect!

So what does the connected student look like and what are the benefits of having them collaborate globally?  Based on my observations of connected students, as well as those I’ve observed through presentations, or through some of the amazing teachers in my PLN who connect their students regularly, here are some of their characteristics:

Connected Students…

  • are more inclined to voice their opinions because they believe that their voices matter
  • practice online collaboration and communication skills for audiences beyond their teachers
  • understand how technology can connect them to experts and authors and have the confidence to reach out to them
  • utilize social media to create positive digital footprints
  • recognize the power of social media to make a difference, change the status quo
  • gain an understanding of other cultures and perspectives by building relationships and friendships with people from outside their own communities
  • know that there are many people who can help them solve a problem and many different ways to do so
  • are more engaged in school

Connecting with Experts, Connecting with Each other

Have you ever had a Skype or Google Hangout visit with an expert? It’s an amazing opportunity for kids to connect with each other and feel like a part of a greater community?  That’s what we did with our Google Hangout with Commander Hadfield.  We…

  1. Shared resources via Google Drive to build excitement about the visit.
  2. Had an elementary classroom connect with a high school to create a promo video
  3. Offered the opportunity for students throughout the District to submit a question via Google Form
  4. Offered the opportunity for students throughout the District to vote on the best questions  to ask the expert
  5. Connect classes on the day of the event via TodaysMeet or a similar back channel

Here is a link to the Google Hangout with Chris Hadfield!

Ideas for connecting your students this school year:

Start small.  Connect with another class in your District or with someone you know personally. I was impressed by this collaborative inquiry project by Jamie Weir and Daniel Ballantyne and the powerful experience that collaboration provided for their students.

Skype in the classroom is a great and simple way to begin to connect your students; Google Hangouts and Google Communities

Twitter hashtags  and your Twitter community can help make those initial connections.  Once a Twitter connection is established, classes can connect virtually via Google Apps for Education and/or Google Hangouts.

If you are an Ontario teacher, use the hashtag #Ontarioclassmatch, an idea inspired by Heather Theljsmeijer  who is also passionate about connected students to the world.

Padlet, Kahoot, TodaysMeet  Google Docs, Google Slides:  Basically, any tool that allows your students to participate online can also become a shared platform for local or global collaboration.

Join the Global Green Screen Project shared by Dr. Brad Gustafson in which participants will contribute a chapter to a video story.  Or create a similar project in your District.

Join International Dot Day based on the book by Peter Reynolds (in September)

Harness the power of blogs (Mrs. Yollis’ class blog is a great resource and Rusul Alrubail has a wonderful resource for blogging with ELL learners) or utilize apps like Write About that connect students through writing.

Check out the Not Perfect Hat Club Global Collaboration project for students aged 6-12!

Have students choose a book from an author who is on Twitter so they can connect with the author.

Jennifer Williams and Fran Siracusa are passionate about connecting students to the world. Check out this article, Collaborative Learning Spaces:  Classrooms that connect to the world and their ideas for using Periscope to connect classrooms to the world.  Their company. Calliope connects classrooms to the world virtually, but also connects international classrooms through global projects, travel, and professional development.

Jen McCray has created this collaborative doc for teachers interesting in connecting their classes.  Why not addi your name to this Google Spreadsheet.?

Craig Kemp is passionate about opening the walls of our classrooms to create a Global Classroom for students.  He has lots of inspiring ideas for connecting students as does Vicky Davis who is an incredible advocate and resource for blogging.

Would love to hear about your success stories connecting students and the positive lessons they’ve learned as a result!

Maybe our goal this coming school year could be to connect our students one more time than we did last year.  I think the result would be worth the effort!

Aviva Dunsiger reminds us  to  begin with Curriculum Expectations in our planning or we risk losing opportunities to make stronger links to learning (see comments below)

Check out this amazing visualization of the connected student by Sylvia Duckworth based on this ideas in this post!

Connected Student

 

3 thoughts on “The Connected Student

  1. Aviva

    Jen, I’m really conflicted when it comes to connecting classrooms. Yes, I agree with everything on your list, and I think that these are all great skills to develop, but where are the curriculum references? In many of the specific examples, I can see curriculum links, but are they always considered when we look at connecting students? How can we give students meaningful opportunities to connect/learn with each other AND provide ways to extend/apply curriculum learning? I feel as though there must be a way to do both. What do you think?

    Aviva

    Reply
    1. jencasatodd@gmail.com Post author

      Hi Aviva,
      Such a fantastic question and I’m so happy you share your concerns as it might be why teachers are reluctant to “go there”. I think of it in a number of ways. There are some more explicit Curriculum links I can think of: Mystery Skype for example connects to many of the Geography expectations, and International Dot Day can become part of an Art project with very specific links to the Arts Curriculum. Connecting with another class reading the same book can provide immense opportunities for students to extend their understanding of a book or share their favourite book with a student from another place and talk about why it is (Oral Communication). I also think that intentional and meaningful connections to other kids can be a consideration for the Collaboration learning skill. Then I think of the Language Arts expectations which are quite open in that there is no prescribed content. After a connection, students can write a journal entry about what they learned about X culture, or the experience.
      I think that a strong teacher (like you 🙂 ) who has a keen sense of the Curriculum expectations would find many links. There again, I have been out of a classroom, so perhaps I am being unrealistic? What do you think?

      Reply
      1. Aviva

        I think you make some wonderful points here, and I can certainly see these connections. I just wonder, should we be thinking more about these expectations during our planning for collaboration? If not, do we risk losing opportunities to make stronger links to learning?

        Aviva

        Reply

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