Sunday, October 2, 2011

Kindergarten Around the World 2011-12!

Update: More info on Kindergarten Around the World can be found here, on our shiny new blog!
It seems it is time to find an online home for details of this, my own pet #kinderchat project! 

Kindergarten Around the World has recently generated lots of interest, and lots of questions, so I am hoping the project description below, will answer most of your questions about participating. Please note that the 2011-12 project is currently full for English-speaking classes in Canada and the US. I am still accepting sign-ups from French-speaking classes from any country (Canadian classes may need to be matched with classes in other regions of Canada), and English-speaking classes outside of Canada and the US. I may be able to accommodate other languages, as well. 

To help increase the diversity of the project, I need help spreading the word to overseas schools! Please pass this link on to any international teachers who may be interested.


 
Kindergarten Around The World 2011-12

Kindergarten Around the World is a twitter-based virtual exchange project, allowing young students to experience and explore life in another country by building a relationship with a class of similarly-aged children. It was piloted using 8 classes in 2010-11, and may potentially include over 100 classes this year.

The project is based out of Calgary French and International School (www.cfis.com) located in Calgary, Canada. The coordinator (me!) is Amy Murray (@happycampergirl). The Toronto Star recently wrote an article about the project, which can be found here: http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1052956

Most participating classes have students between the ages of 4 and 6; however, other age groups can participate if they are open to being matched with younger students.

Information for participating classes

Each participating class be assigned a partner class at from another country. Partner classes must:

  • Have regular internet access.
  • Have (or be willing to create) a Twitter account for their class.
  • Be willing to check their twitter account at least 3 times a week, answering questions, and asking questions of their own.

Goals:

By developing a relationship with a kindergarten class in another part of the world, participating students will:
  • Compare and contrast their own daily lives with those of other  students around the world.
  • See themselves as part of a larger, international community of Kindergarten-aged children
  • Develop an awareness of and appreciation for other cultures
  • Reflect on their own school lives and daily experiences.
  • Explore the use of technology as a tool to communicate and build relationships.

Premise and general outline:

  • Each class will create a fictional student who is a member of their partner class.
  • Using a variety of media, students will create a story (or series of stories) featuring this character going through daily life in the country and school of their partner class.
  • Using Twitter to ask and answer questions, classes will gather information about their partner class and country, to create stories that accurately reflect life in that country and region.

The project will be directed by students’ ideas and interests, so activities may vary from one partnership to another. Possible activities:


  • Virtual tours of classrooms using digital video.
  • Skype conversations between classrooms.
  • Student journals regarding the experiences of their fictional character.
  • Completing a special craft that is also being done by their partner class.
  • Learning and playing a game that is popular in their partner class.
  • Making and eating a snack that is typical in their partner country.
  • Celebrating a special holiday that is significant to their partner class
  • Creating a collective storybook (or multiple books) about the adventures of their character.
  • Learning a song or poem that is part of their partner class’s daily routines.
  • Graphing daily temperature and weather at home and in partner class's location.
  • Exploring websites related to partner schools and countries.


Culminating Project
Classes are encouraged to create an electronic story or presentation about their fictional student, in a format that can easily be shared with their partner class. Possible tools include prezi.com, storybird.com, voicethread.com, and glogster.com. This presentation will integrate everything students have learned about their partner classroom and country.

Here is an example of a project from last year: http://prezi.com/ydg3pwlmstuw/ella-en-indonesie-no-photos/?auth_key=7dae362cd44760626de70bd16587c0bdbea7c0c7.

General Timeline
Teachers can expect to receive contact information for their partner class some time in October 2011, and are welcome to start tweeting with their partners at any time after that. The intention this year is to officially kick-off the project in November with an exchange (via snail mail) of cards or drawings. Schools who celebrate or acknowledge winter holidays such as Christmas are welcome to exchange greeting cards. Schools who do not celebrate these holidays are welcome to exchange drawings or introductory notes. Each teacher partnership can agree on a format that is appropriate for their students.

The "research" part of the project, where classes use twitter to learn about one another, can follow any timeline that works for both teachers. The 2010-11 pilot project went on for just over a month, which felt like not enough time to adequately explore all the things that caught the children's interest.

Some teachers may choose to make the project their primary "theme" for a set period of time, others may choose to weave it into their existing program. There are no firm rules about how to integrate the project into your classroom -- as long as it is working for you and your partner teacher, you are doing it right!

Please note that the project is currently full for English-speaking classes in Canada and the US. I am still accepting signups from French-speaking classes from any country (Canadian classes may need to be matched with classes in other regions of Canada), and English-speaking classes outside of Canada and the US.

Teachers who would like to participate can fill out the form found here: http://ow.ly/6xD8Z . Completing the form is understood as a commitment to participation; having a class withdraw creates tremendous disappointment for their partner class. The secret password for the last question of the form is "GLITTER." (If you received a different password in an e-mail from me, please use the password that appears in the e-mail. Different passwords help me keep track of where the signups are coming from!)

Teachers or administrators who would like more information can reach me at mllenuit@gmail.com.

Thanks for helping to spread the word!

Smiles & Sunshine; 
Amy

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