Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Long Distance Connections

I can't believe I didn't take any pictures of our fabulous learning experience today. Ahead of time I thought about doing so but in the midst of it I was too involved in the event to remember.

Dean Shareski partners up the preservice teachers he teaches with teachers around the world (mostly in Canada and the US, I think). I did this once before but that time I didn't have a clear plan in mind and I don't think it was a strong an experience for those preservice teachers as it could have been. This time I had a plan and the two preservice teachers are awesome.

We've talked over the past several weeks about some ideas that would fit our science and social studies lessons. In science first graders learn about the seasons and how during different seasons we have different weather and how animals and plants adapt to the seasons. I thought it would be interesting to see how the climate in Regina, Saskatchewan results in different weather from ours during each season and different animals and plants. In social studies we're studying maps so talking with folks elsewhere is a great chance for us to look at different places on maps.

Kaitlin and Courtney (the two fabulous preservice teachers) created an awesome video about winter in Saskatchewan. My students, many of whom have lived only in Virginia or in countries south of the U.S. were fascinated by the winter sports and the various animals, especially buffalo and moose. We'll be watching the video multiple times, I can tell.

Today Kaitlin joined us via Skype and talked with the kids about spring. She shared that she can tell that spring is coming because the snow is melting right now. We can tell that spring is coming because we can wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts right now! Then she shared a wonderful story book about spring with the kids and engaged them in conversation about it. They were enthralled. At the end she suggested we draw pictures of what we like to do in the spring. We're going to do that tomorrow in the computer lab using Pixie and put them into a VoiceThread in order to continue the conversation with Kaitlin and Courtney.

We're also going to use Google Earth and Google Maps to look at where we live and where Kaitlin and Courtney live. Flying from our home to theirs in Google Earth will be awesome and following the path in Google Maps will be quite interesting.

If Kaitlin and Courtney are getting half as much out of this as my students are then it is well worth their time. We are having a blast and making connections left and right (as well as north and west)!

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