After teaching a two week course about Web 2.0 technologies in Dominica one of my goals for the school year was to use blogging and video conferencing to connect with experts and other classes to break down the walls of my classroom. I’ve been attempting to connect with the world with blogs and video conferencing.
Last year I started by first attempts at blogging. The blog was completely limited to just my students, and it was a great learning tool, but I thought it could go much further. I’m currently working on a blog about Canadian Identity with my students. I put the blog out on twitter to get contributions about how the rest of the world views Canada. I received some fantastic posts from all over the US, as far away as Ireland, and a class from Florida contributed as well. Last year the students thought posting on the blog was neat, but they weren’t completely taken with it. This year as soon as the students saw comments on “their blog” they wanted to respond and build on the ideas posted.
It was at this point when I put my Canadian Identity Blog on twitter that Zoe Branigan-Pipe contacted me about Skyping with her class and our classes started blogging. My students have been completely engaged by the thought they get to talk to other students over the internet and leave posts on another school’s blog. Today we made our first connection and the students were very excited, but strangely quiet. They loved to listen to the other class, and had a few questions, but as soon as we disconnected they wanted to talk more and ask me all sorts of questions. Luckily we are connecting again with Hamilton next week, so if the students come out of their shell it will be even more productive and engaging. Our challenge from Ms. Branigan-Pipe’s class was to learn more about the Nigara Escarpment, and my students are already digging into their research project.
The next step is a video conference with a school in St. Louis to compare the differences between Canadians and Americans to learn more about what it is to be a Canadian.
My class is engaged and excited to learn everything about that they can about Canada to share with the world on their blog and through video conferencing.