It may seem like global collaboration projects are designed for social studies classes—and they are perfect for social studies!—but they can be implemented in other classes, too. In fact, my social studies classes recently collaborated with a math class from the United Kingdom! Instead of having discussion topics focused on either of our specific content areas, we strived for a lesson in cultural empathy. The students discussed American and British stereotypes, leading to continued conversations outside the classroom and the formation of global friendships.
Are you interested in creating global collaboration projects for your students, but not sure how to start making connections? Participate, an organization dedicated to expanding the global learning community, provides teachers with chats organized by topic such as "#globaledchat." You can actively engage with like-minded educators from all over the world. Once you've found your global peer or peers, you can try the following project ideas.
1. Competitive Collaboration
This activity, which makes use of digital tools Padlet, Kahoot, and Google Hangouts, is two-fold in that it encourages students to learn about different cultures by interacting with students from around the world, and it encourages students to have some good-natured, competitive fun!
To get started, each student creates an introductory post on their class Padlet wall. They'll include their name, grade level, hobbies, plans for after graduation, questions for the other class, as well as a picture or video. They could even include social media information—as long as it complies with your school's social media policies! When each class finishes their introductions, teachers exchange Padlet walls. This is where the magic begins. Padlet recently added a feature that allows students to comment on posts on Padlet walls, and it's a game changer. The discussions that started on the Padlet wall and carried over into social media were absolutely awesome to witness.
Now, Google Hangouts comes into play. During the video chat, teachers can encourage their students to ask questions that either build on the Padlet wall posts or start new conversations. It's best to have a plan for these conversations to prevent students from just staring at a computer screen!
Further reading: Exploring Cultures in Your Classroom
After the question-and-answer session, teachers can use this information to create a Kahoot! game for their students. Questions can be relevant to specific content or similar to trivia. The students then sign into Kahoot! using the game PIN and include an identifier with their name to distinguish which country they're from. It becomes a friendly competition and students play this game simultaneously in different parts of the world.
2. Global Presentations
Imagine the possibilities of allowing students to collaborate with their global peers to create a presentation about . . . well, anything! As a history teacher, I often have my students work with students from another country to present information about a cultural or historical event. This allows my class to learn about a certain topic or event from a different point of view.
Your students can collaborate with their global peers on a presentation by using Google Docs and Hangouts. Start by creating Google Doc templates and identifying parameters for the project. You could even grant students the freedom to choose their topic—music, movies, or clothing that are popular in each country would be fascinating to compare and contrast!
Students can then present their project together to their classmates via Google Hangouts. This project would require both teachers to use multiple class periods for collaboration but it's an exciting way to better understand the unique perspectives around the globe.
3. Cultural Conversations through Video
With this project, students from both classrooms would introduce the world to their culture using video. I like using Flipgrid, which is the new kid on the education technology block. It's a fantastic addition to any teacher's toolbox! Teachers can use Flipgrid to create a conversation about anything, and students can add quick videos to their class grid that share specific elements of their lives. For example, what's it like to attend a major league sporting event in your country? What are restaurants like in your country? Students can also comment on videos through Flipgrid.
Further reading: Education Around the World
Teachers can even evaluate and provide feedback without leaving Flipgrid. It allows teachers to place a time limit on the videos students create, as well as easily share information via a link, embed code, QR code, or Google Classroom. After introductions have been made, students can then participate in a Google Hangout and discuss more topics of interest.
These projects provide students and teachers with a great opportunity to learn about the world beyond their classroom. If you're interested in working with teachers around the world, hop on Participate, make some new global teacher friends, and start collaborating!