Making Global Connections by Carrie Ward, Colegio Internacional Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela
Twitter can be very overwhelming, yet it is a great tool to help you connect to different people all around the world! These connections can help improve your teaching in many ways. This is my story of how Twitter helped turn writing into a real world experience for my students. At the beginning of this year I was invited to participate in a global book exchange project by Heather Simpson, a 2nd grade teacher in Canada. Each class involved will end up writing a total of 5 books and sending them to Heather, who then emails them out to everyone involved. The other countries in this project are Canada, USA, Cambodia, India, Russia, China, Switzerland and South Africa; Luxembourg recently joined in as well for the third book.
The first book we wrote was an introduction to our country, Venezuela. We wrote all about the landforms in Venezuela, the language spoken here, Venezuelan money and even told some facts about our school. We spent a week researching, looking for pictures and writing the book together as a class. We chose to use the app Book Creator for iPad to write the books. It is an easy app for the children to learn to use and allows us to collaborate, insert pictures/videos and even record ourselves reading the book afterwards.
The second book was all about holidays and other celebrations. The students had a bit more input into this book with final editing done as a whole class. Jezabel, my assistant took the lead on this one and worked with the students one-on-one to add what they knew about the different celebrations.
Recreation was the topic for the third book. Our students got together in small groups to write what they do for games, toys, sports, hobbies, and the arts. As the year progresses and the students are becoming more familiar with the book creator app, they are doing even more of the writing independently. They also get to choose things like font, background and text color and what layout to do for each page. All of these are great skills for the students to experience.
The students have started learning about the other countries through reading each book. It has been a wonderful way to get the students involved in improving writing and reading skills, while also learning about geography. When I first told them about some of the other books, their first question was, “Where is Cambodia?” When the first books were sent, we broke out a map and looked up where all of the other countries participating are located. So now they know! They also know that the other students are reading their books, so they strive to do their best work in this real world application to learning.
For me personally, it has been a fun experience. I’ve been able to connect with these teachers around the world. We have all started following each other on Twitter and have interacted beyond the book project. When it first snowed in Canada, Heather posted pictures of her students’ reactions. One of the other teachers responded by turning the post into a math problem about how much snow there was for the kids to solve, which was then turned into yet another problem. There are two more books to write about this year-buildings and animals. We are already looking forward to writing and reading the next one!