The following is a guest blog post from Laura Krenicki. Laura is a middle school social studies teacher in Colchester, Connecticut. For the past seven years, Laura’s organized projects centered around connecting students from around the world through discussing global issues. We first saw Laura’s One Day Grid on Twitter and we reached out to learn more. The following is an adaptation from her personal blog post, Rationale for One Day in Our Lives, which first presented the project, followed by her reflection on the incredible Grid that resulted.
The topic of "global literacy" is quite broad, and it feels like sometimes we are doing great things in our schools, while other times it feels like we are merely scratching the surface. Even the "experts" aren't always specific in how to achieve global goals.
Normally, I teach middle-schoolers whose world view is narrow, if not egocentric, and I know it is my job to expand their worldview through experiences. Once they graduate, the inquisitiveness to know about the world and the people in it should and must be intrinsic. To foster this culture, I decided to connect students around the world and started a project through the Global Collaboration Day website.
For the first few years, I tried a forum-based platform to facilitate the community. However, the difficulty with logging-in, burden of organizing numerous posts and prompts, and challenge with scheduling across multiple classrooms - let alone across multiple time-zones - made feedback and engagement slow. With that said, I noticed that kids who posted photos or videos - rather than merely text - had a lot more engagement! For example, a group of boys in Asia made a video about the various dishes you could make with noodles. While it was meant to be informative, the group became unintended media stars! The takeaway? VIDEO IS IMPORTANT.
Last spring, Kerri Thompson introduced me to Bronwyn Joyce’s “What If?” project. My students were so excited to share their ideas using Flipgrid that I decided to use the same format for Global Collaboration Day in September. Two things that made me especially excited about using Flipgrid were, (1) as I mentioned, video always makes the experience more positive, and (2) Flipgrid doesn't require logging-in to find responses.
With a community already built through the The Global Collaboration Day website, I able to promote the project with previous participants and amplify #StudentVoice. Furthermore, I was able to bring on-board some new classrooms through sharing the initiative via social media - specifically on my personal and classroom Twitter accounts. I also embedded the Grid Topics on our class websites.
The completed project documents a typical day for students around the world. By no accident, Global Collaboration Day fell on International Peace Day, and the Grid beautifully exemplified this through the incredible student responses. Since the project was short in duration and welcoming for students of all grade levels, teachers found it a valuable experience for their students that was easy to incorporate into our busy schedules. More importantly, students were thrilled to see and hear kids around the world, share their personal thoughts and ideas, and draw inspiration from the hopes and dreams of their peers. Flipgrid made all the difference in the project this year!