Monday, August 04, 2014

It's Time to Take Your Learning Global - Flat Connections Projects and Teacher PD

It is that time again when organisers at Flat Connections start to promote and encourage global participation in projects and teacher PD. As teachers in the northern hemisphere return to their classrooms, and as southern hemisphere teachers plan for the rest of the year, NOW is a great time to be planning for global learning and embedding collaborative experiences into the curriculum. 

We encourage all teachers and leaders to think ahead - global collaboration is not always easy, but forward planning in conjunction with curriculum organisation will build successful experiences for you and your students. As always, we are here to help!

Flat Connections provides resources, skills, strategies and access to learning about the world, with the world. Led by Julie Lindsay, Flat Connections joins learners with the purpose of 'learning while doing' in a global context.

Right now Flat Connections is planning for global connections and collaborations starting September 2014. This blog post shares opportunities for joining global projects K-12 as well as teacher online courses.

We invite you to join our mailing list and receive more regular updates about Flat Connections. The July 2014 newsletter shares exciting links including Flat Connections Conference live events!

Global Projects K-12
Flat Connections provides managed global collaborative projects for students in K-12 across the world.
The principles of these projects are always the same but the content is varied:

  • Core, content objectives united between classrooms,
  • Unique, individual, personalized learning experiences for each student,
  • The 'merging' and 'flattening' of classrooms from around the world for a period of interaction and work,
  • Innovative implementation and uses of multimedia and a wide variety of 21st Learning Skills,
  • Customizable components based upon the unique situation of each classroom's curricular objectives,
  • Project Managers who support and lead teachers, 
  • Fully connected and collaborative objectives supported by Web 2.0 tools
  • Empowered, engaged teachers with a commitment to build bridges that the society of tomorrow will walk across!
Applications for all global projects are open now for a September start. 

Here is a quick summary of what is being offered:
  • K-2 Building Bridges to Tomorrow - This project uses Web 2.0 tools to support communication and interaction as well as collaboration and creation between students and teachers from classrooms around the world.
What are teachers saying about this project?
“I loved being introduced to new technology to use in the classroom and to connect with other classrooms. I especially enjoyed our meetings as I learned a lot from you all. My boys enjoyed skyping and we will continue to do so in the future. And I'm glad I've been introduced to Voicethread. I will definitely continue to use this tool.” Betsy Tyson
“My students loved seeing other schools around the country and around the world. They loved the idea of creating something with other kids not in their own school.” Kelly Jenkins
“They really enjoyed the handshake and the importance and variety of ways to say hello.” Sharon Davison
  • A Week in the Life... Gr3-6 - is an exciting, challenging and unique experience that allows young people (and their teachers) to connect, communicate, explore global topics and issues and create digital artifacts together that share solutions. (Yes! This year AWL is being redesigned to include global issues and sharing of ideas for global solutions - come and join us!).
What are teachers saying about this project? 
"Students were exposed to a variety of tech tools that may have been new to them. They liked feeling like they were a part of something larger with others from all over. This project also helped some of the teachers from our school learn about collaboration and learn some new tools." Bonnie Birdsall
“Regardless of where we live and how different our environments are, there are many things we have in common.” Elena Markowicz-Troy
“My students really had fun taking the photos to share. We had some great discussions about what others would want to know about us.” Tina Schmidt
  • Digiteen/Digitween - global hands-on projects for upper elementary, middle and high school students, (typically Grade 4-12, 8-18 year old). These projects study digital citizenship and promote effective and responsible online choices as well as immersing students into an online educational community for learning and collaborating.
What are teachers saying about this project? 
“Best outcomes were Learning more about the responsibilities of being a digital citizen; learning how to better communicate with others through non face-to-face communication” Susan Shaw, Singapore
“Best outcomes were conversations about digital citizenship, connecting with other kids and working through how to connect, how to communicate, class video project at end, excitement about being part of global project” Barbara McFall, USA
  • Flat Connections Global Project - fully supported and managed global collaborative experience for middle and high school students (typically grade/year 9-12, 14-18 years old). It challenges all learners to connect and communicate beyond their immediate classroom and school. It also encourages collaboration and co-creation of final artifacts as well as student leadership, while exploring emerging technologies and envisioning the future of learning.
What are teachers saying about this project? 
This project has become an integral part of my courses. It is a great experience for me and the students. Brian McLaughlin, USA
“Best outcomes are self-direction, collaboration in support of tangible outcomes” Bruce Forsyth
What are students saying about this project?
“The project was well organised and I found it especially helpful that the conference calls were recorded, so that I could refer back to them when I could not attend. The video work was fun and creative. It gave us an opportunity to express our understanding of the topic and present it in an informative and unique manner.” Maddie, Australia
“The organization of the student leaders was very well put. I was able to communicate with a few leaders and a few teachers. I also was able to communicate with all the members in my group.” Kunal, USA
“This project was a great experience for me to be able to collaborate with people from all over the world and learn how to communicate with people who have different ideas and perspectives. Being a student leader was also very important to me because I have trouble being a leader and being assertive, so this helped me with these skills.” Danielle, USA

What are ‘Expert Advisors’ and ‘Judges’ saying about this project?

“As a pre-service teacher, this was truly an invaluable experience for me. I will definitely take these collaborative skills with me in my future classroom!” Laura Callis, USA
“It was a pleasure enabling my pre-service teachers to become the mentor of students. The opportunity for them to encourage, provide information and guidance was priceless!” Janice Newlin, Athens University, Alabama
“The educational benefits are huge. Establishing valuable networks, sharing with each other and experiencing different situations provides great benefit personally and also to students. It is always essential to have experienced 'flat connections" educators involved and to use their advice, their expertise and to provide a mentoring role really reassures others that challenges happen to us all, help with the use of different tools and overcome cultural and other issues that do arise from time to time.” Anne Mirtschin, Australia
“This was my first time judging. I thought Julie did a great job at guiding us and answering any questions we had.” Cindy Nickodam, USA
  • Global Youth Debates - a global collaborative project created around research and formal debating. It uses Web 2.0 tools to connect, communicate and debate across the world. 2012-14 theme: Sustainability. New theme for 2014-15 announced later in August.
What are teachers saying about this project? 
“The asynchronous debate was very exciting for my students - to know they were debating against real teams living somewhere else in the world was very powerful. Of, course, winning both debates was an absolute highlight but the students had learned a great deal leading up to the finals so the winning was icing on the cake! The learning curve that happened after receiving judges feedback was really meaningful and my students knew they were expected to apply the feedback to their next debate. The students were also very invested in the topic and were very keen to learn as much as possible - it was a great topic choice, thank you!” Susan Shaw, Singapore
“We loved hearing our opponents' rebuttals to our arguments, also the judges' feedback was very meaningful and helped us to grow. The synchronous debate was nerve-wracking, but exciting too!” Nicola Takizawa, Japan

Teacher Professional Development
Flat Connections is offering TWO courses starting in September:
1. Flat Connections Global Educator
 - the focus is on global learning, global education and becoming globally competent. These themes are intermingled with all parts of the course and conversations centre around challenges and ideas to do with technology use for global connections.
Part 1 aims to set teachers up with tools and connections and knowledge of how a global collaborative educator and classroom functions.
Part 2 aims to support global project design, implementation and management.

read more......

What course graduates are saying about this course....... 
When asked if she would recommend Flat Connections Global Educator: "Absolutely! It was especially helpful to have worked on it with other members of my school district so there was local support and guidance. But even without the local cohort, it would be beneficial. This course takes the daunting goal of global collaboration and breaks it down into bite-sized chunks which are manageable." Krista Brakhage, Colorado, USA 2014.
“Yes. It was chaotic and hectic, but that's what our students experience. It got my hands dirty and introduced me to some wonderful educators around the globe. The chance to be guided by Julie Lindsay in this way is a golden opportunity for educators.” Cameron Patterson, Australia 2013
“It gave an understanding of the organizational framework behind the programs and the kind of technology and skill level needed by a teacher and students to achieve good outcomes.” Avylon Magaray, Australia 2013
“I joined the cohort that started this fall to see if I could complete it. This time it was run solely by Julie Lindsay and she did not simply reiterate the material from the book, She is an excellent role model and brought in a lot of new material and conducted good discussions online.” Maureen Tumenas, USA 2013
2. Flat Connections Global Primer
- 4-week course aims to provide educators and education leaders and administrators at all levels, across all school systems, resources and strategies for taking themselves, their classroom, their school, and even their country global!
read more.....

Consider joining us for one of the Flat Connections teacher professional development courses in 2014. Joining a supportive online community does make it possible to take your classroom and your learning global and create wonderful opportunities for your students and colleagues.

If you have any questions about global projects or teacher PD from Flat Connections, please contact:
Julie Lindsay
Director, Learning Confluence P/L
Founder, Flat Connections
Learning about the world, with the world

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