The Quest for Digital Literacy

Learning in a 1:1 Classroom

Global Connections for Learning

Friendship Map

Any teacher with a computer, and internet connection, and a bit of determination can offer students some powerful learning opportunities.  You don’t have to look far.  Fact is, plenty of teachers are already looking for you.

When I walked into my first classroom four years ago, I had planned to se a thematic unit on newspapers to help my kids learn about their community.  While Googling for information, I found http://www.globalschoolnet.org, a site with many project-based learning activities.  One of those activities was called Newsday.  Newsday helped students from different parts of the world create and share newspapers about their communities.  Our efforts with Newsday netted seven partner schools from around the world.  We created a 40-page newspaper, sold advertising to our community, made a substantial profit, learned a lot about parts of our world, and made some great new friends.  We invested our money in some camera equipment.

In my second year, we continued our Newsday project, making friends with eight more classroom.  We created three smaller newspapers that year.  They averaged about 20 pages each and led my students into a deeper understanding of the workings of our community.  They studied history, culture, government, service organizations, public safety, business, and natural resources.

During that year, I ran across ePals, an organization that helps schools connect by posting their projects on their site.  We did another half-dozen projects with individual schools.  We traded school mascots and stories with a school in Iceland and did a Christmas project with a school in France.  We studied various aspects of world peace with a school in Spain and helped students at a school in Italy learn and practice English.  We traded experiences with learning with technology with a school in India and learned a lot of things about scarecrows from a school in Japan.

Then one day, about midway through the school year, I got an email from a school in Israel.  The teacher’s name was Marsha Goren.  She had seen me on ePals and invited me to do a project with her and her students.  Their school was Ein Ganim School in Petach Tikva.  They had already done projects with more than 200 schools and had their own website, http://www.globaldreamers.org.  Their belief was that if they could help enough children around the world become friends, perhaps when they grew up, they would still be friendly. I could write volumes about the projects with did with them, and the days ahead, I probably will.

In my next post, I will write about the Global Virtual Classroom Challenge and the project that earned us, Marsha, and a new friend from Illinois world-wide recognition.

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December 16, 2009 Posted by | 1:1 Classroom | | Leave a comment

A 1:1 Elementary Classroom

I am beginning my third year of teaching in a 1:1, technology-rich classroom. I have learned  quite a bit on this journey and I am certain I will learn a lot more.

In this initial post, I simply want to share how this all came about. While schools across the  country are implementing technology programs, I have yet to find an elementary classroom like  mine. My students do not have laptops. They each have a desktop computer.

Four years ago, I was hired as a 4th grade teacher at Harrison Elementary School in Warsaw,  Indiana. I was given two computers; one for myself and one for the school’s Accelerated Reader  program. I knew I had to find more.

I am a proponent of Project-Based Learning. I intended to find global learning partners for my  students and not in a snail-mail sort of way. I went from room to room, asking other teachers if they were using all of their computers. Some were quite generous. In a storage room, I found a cart of ten old Dream Writers. They ran Windows CE and needed new batteries. I found some funds and by mid-term had 17 computers in my room.

My first year was an unqualified success. We created a newspaper with seven other classrooms around the world. I taught my students how to sell advertising and set prices that would ensure a profit. We made $1200.00.

Near the end of that year, my Principal sent out an email that informed us our school’s population had increased to the point he was going to close one of our two computer labs to make room for another classroom. I ran to his office, skipped knocking on his door, and told him I had a crazy idea. He listened.

Instead of sending the computers back to our Technology Department for redistribution, the computer lab became my fourth grade classroom. I immediately began to ramp up the use of technology in my lessons. My room has grown to include a Mimeo interactive white board, a powerful sound system, two webcams, video and still cameras, a VCR/DVD player, and a significant amount of interactive software.

Our global learning continues. We have partnered with more than thirty classrooms on four continents. Last year, we entered an international web-design contest. Along with our two partner classrooms, Lincoln Elementary in Oak Park, Illinois and Ein Ganim School in Petach Tikva, Israel, we won first place in the elementary division.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions. Thanks.

Rick Glass

December 14, 2009 Posted by | 1:1 Classroom | , | Leave a comment