Connecting Classrooms Internationally

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Using technology in the classroom used to intimidate me. I told myself it was too complicated, too risky to integrate an online aspect into my curriculum. Year after year I chose to stay inside my comfort zone.

Once I realized my fears were merely excuses, I made the conscious decision to challenge myself as a teacher. Enter: Blogging. I had heard how user friendly Kidblog was, tried it, and have never looked back. My students loved seeing the pictures that I posted of them, could easily check the homework and any reminders from home, and even chat with each other via comments on each others’ posts. However, I knew I wanted to do even more with it – expand my students’ audience.

I signed up for Global Read Aloud this year and was lucky to connect with a class of a similar grade level in another country. We decided to try a “Mystery Skype” session. During this session, our students would learn more about each other and eventually guessed where the other class was located. It was a huge success and our students were so excited to start new friendships with students across the globe. The connected teacher and I were exploring ways to expand on this connection when we realized we were both using Kidblog in the classroom. We decided to have our students introduce themselves in a post on Kidblog, giving the other class an opportunity to respond with commonalities, questions, and feedback. The students really got to know each other and I had the pleasure of seeing my students’ excitement as posts and comments were published by the other class. They were delighted to see how much they had in common with students that lived in a different country.

“We have so much in common. I hope we get to talk more!”

“I wish we could travel to Canada to meet you!”

“You seem like a nice person. It’s so nice to meet you!”

We plan to stay in touch throughout the year via Kidblog. Our classes are currently both reading the same novel. The students will ask and respond to questions asked by one another, as well as gain insight into the book they are all enjoying. The students have gone beyond the walls of the classroom to make international friends, and I have high hopes that our classes will continue corresponding throughout the year.

If I had never pushed myself to try something new, I wouldn’t have been able to give my class this wonderful opportunity to connect with students their age that live in a different country. Not only have my students gained new friends, but I have made new professional connections who have provided advice, praise, and made Global Read Aloud such a wonderful experience this year.

So, I challenge you to push yourself out of your comfort zone and make this an incredible year for your students and for yourself.

About the Author
I am a grade 5/6 teacher in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. I have been teaching for about 14 years now. My current focus is to integrate technology into the classroom in as many ways as possible. I want to empower students in their learning so that they are engaged in what they are learning about and have choices about how to best demonstrate their learning. I am also a mother to two wonderful children.

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