The Benefits of Bringing the World into the Classroom

4th grade sharing facts about Argentina 

Connecting to classes, teachers, experts all over the world by using video-conferences has turned into the most highly motivating and meaningful project I have ever been part!

Is there any better way to help our students use the foreign language they are learning? Is there any better way to foster global citizenship and help our kids develop deep learning experiences ?  If there are better strategies to achieve these aims, I still have not found them.

If we think in terms of contents and skills we should develop in our 21c students, we may agree that these kinds of experiences can provide students with many opportunities in only one task. Video conferencing will give kids the opportunity to develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively, as well as being open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives. While getting ready for a hangout or a skype session children will be encouraged to show originality in work. Depending on the task teachers agree to perform, the great variety of skills children will put into practice. 

 Mystery games, will push kids to the need of reasoning effectively by evaluating evidence, analyzing data they collect and making decisions. In most of the cases kids perform a role that may change encouraging the development of skills such as flexibility and adaptation.
Some other tasks, such as intercultural exchanges, allow kids to communicate effectively in diverse environments fostering interaction with people of other cultures.These experiences help them understand and accept people from other cultures as individuals with other values and behaviours, seeing those interactions as enriching practices.
 If we think of encounters where we work cooperatively, collaborative tasks, the benefits are innumerable! The idea of this type of task is to encourage children to work together towards a common goal.By taking part in the same project students build a supportive community promoting a possitive attitude towards the outcome they want to achieve.
If we think of the chance of Meeting Experts, what I call real people, they can tell our kids about their expertise on different fields, we will definitely be bringing unique opportunities to them! As well as having authors sharing their literature, encouraging post literature circles and giving them pieces of advice as regards reading and writing.

If all these new ways open windows to all our 21c learners, show them the real world and the immensity of its possibilities, for our students speakers of English as a foreign language, the benefits grow even better. Firstly they have the possibility of chatting to real native speakers, to listen to real people talking about real issues; they also have the possibility of expressing their own ideas on a great variety of topics, many of them global themes, that will allow them not only to use the target language but also to discuss 21c matters in meaningful contexts.
After sharing many experiences with different groups of students aged between six and fifteen, I have come to the following conclusions:

  • It is essential to be open-minded enough so as to take the opportunity. Someone can offer the possibility of meeting, taking part of a project you have not considered up to that moment, Do not miss the chance of letting your kids be part of it!
  • Once you make an arrangement, be ready to exploit the most of the encounter. It is essential to do pre work , especially on maps to clearly understand the other person´s location and unless you do a mystery game, or it is part of the task that they will perform, children should do some research about the city and the country where the new friends live.
  • Spatial and geographical skills are interesting to be developed and before and after the videoconference you should focus on this; time zones and time difference should also be included, with different level of complexity according to the age of the kids.
  • Teachers should foster a strong sense of belonging by making students research and produce a creative final outcome about general or particular aspects of their country. Technology is used as a tool that will help kids develop and build their research, critical thinking and creative skills. This final product could be the first step in the interaction processes that children will start.

        The challenge of preparing students for college, careers, and the world today should be our ultimate aim. Students definitely need to become active learners who are able to work collaboratively by building learning communities. The use of strategies such as videoconferencing makes learning more meaningful and relevant by pushing students towards producing outcomes that include not only mastery of essential academic contents but also critical thoughts and effective communication .

First Grade in a hangout with a first grade in Texas. Talking about families.

1 comment:

  1. Videocalls are a very interesting and fruitful part of teaching! In 4th green we have learned a lot and enjoyed our 3 instances of videocalls. Nice pics!