Taking learning forward…

What do our students know about the countries around us?  Not that much, apparently.

Our Year 6 classes have kicked off their new unit of inquiry by thinking about what it means to be a good neighbour and then discussing which of the requirements apply to being good global citizens too. They know we need to work towards understanding our geographical neighbours, engaging with and learning from them, but it seems that many aren’t quite sure who our neighbours are!

By the end of the unit they will know a great deal more. They will inquire into Australia’s interconnectedness with countries in the Asia Pacific, explore the region through Google Maps and a range of other resources and, best of all, they will interact with real people to find out about the countries in which they live.

“Learning  from someone is much more real than learning about them.”  (Year 6 student)

In my very first post on this blog, I stated that my goal was to flatten the walls, take the learning beyond the classroom out into the world, and bring the world inside. Not long after that, the first time Year 6 explored this topic, I persuaded the teachers to have the kids interview a friend in India via Skype. It was an experience that opened new doors and highlighted what was possible.

A year later, for the same unit of inquiry, student’s created a Voicethread with their questions and were able to pursue their personal inquiries via Skype too. They interacted with people in Japan, India, Singapore, Thailand, Bali and Sri Lanka.

This year, we would like to find even more primary sources in every country that our learners choose to investigate. Rather than a formal class structure, it would be great to see them in small groups talking via Skype to as many people as possible. We’d love to have them engaging with students in other countries and continuing to connect with them after the initial interviews.  It would be great to see them work collaboratively on Google Maps to which they add photos, information, questions and new learning. Hopefully they will use their class blogs to reflect on what they learn and to record their wonderings, so that people ‘out there’ can respond.

Do you want to help us learn?

Do you live in the Asia Pacific Region? You don’t need to be an expert. We’d be happy to send you some questions in advance, if that helps. We don’t mind using Skype, Voicethread, email or any other collaborative tool we know or have yet to learn (if it’s not blocked in our school…). We’d love you to include some students, preferably Year 6 or older, as we sometimes ask tough questions, but we’re just as happy to talk to adults. We’re willing to tell you a bit about Australia, in return.

If you’d like to join our learning community and can spare us a little time in the coming weeks, please let us know.

social media

Update: My PLN has delivered willing people or classes in India, China, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Phillipines, NZ and Indonesia! Still looking for Thailand, PNG, East Timor, Malaysia, Burma and Laos…

Final update: We got Malysia, Laos, Thailand.. and a few came too late, as our school year is just about over, but we’ll save them for future collaborations. Thank you!

28 thoughts on “Taking learning forward…

  1. The teachers I work with are just beginning with google apps and we are in the United States, so we will need to wait on this. I really like the idea and will encourage our teachers in St. Louis, Missouri to read this post and perhaps design something of their own and ask for connections.
    Wish I was in a classroom today!


  2. We would love to chat, we are not the most tech savvy school in the world but we are making progress. We are in the south of Taiwan, I have Grade 3 but I know the other primary teachers would be interested if you need a different grade level.


  3. Sure! Im a grade 1 teacher at a K-12 international school in Bandung, Indonesia. Im sure I can get some year 6-8 kids to help. We skype, Voicethread, wiki, blog…..If all else fails Im always willing to help out if you want to ask me questions. I lived here 12 years.


  4. My school would love to collaborate. Our grade 3 students had a similar unit on neighborhood at the start of the school year. We are in Brazil… far away… but if this is not a challenge (or too far from your focus) it would be a great way for my students to engage with students from other countries!


  5. Hi Ed,

    I’m not sure if this what I indicated I would help out with or not, but I’ll happily help out.

    I’m about to finsih a uni assignment where I have to do evaluate respources that contribute to culturally repsonsive teaching. I’m thinking that I’ll review twitter & blogs as activities like the ones your studnets are doing as its allowing yoru studnets to becoem more cultura;lly aware.

    Can you think of any other resources that might be worth reviewing for thiis assignment? I’m thinking that once the assignment is done that I’ll put the reviews up on a blog or wiki so that others can access it & contribute to it. Most resources on the net relating to culturally repsonssive tecahing have a heavy bias towards the US & Black American and Mexican students.


  6. We have students here at NISC at all levels who would love to share about what it means to be either A Cambodian Student or to be in Cambodia as a student.
    We look forward to sharing with your class what we know and learning from you at the same time.

    We look forward to hearing from you and seeing which of our classes can share in the Learning Journey.


    1. Thanks so much Matt. I’m gathering willing collaborators for now and the students in all our Year 6 classes will soon decide which countries to focus their personal inquiries on. I’ll be in touch at that point. For this unit, it might be a small group of kids but I am always happy to make new connections with whom we can collaborate in the future and to enrich our learning further.


  7. Hi, I have some undergraduate students that might possibly want to interact and collaborate with you. My students are from the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Education. Are we qualified for this? Thank you.


  8. I shall be joining Grade 6 next year but am very much interested to be in contact with other friends to know about your country and share about mine. Looking forward to be in touch ,i can handle skype ( with parents permission ofcourse 🙂


  9. Hi! We are a grade 5 classroom in Yokohama, Japan. We would love to communicate, depending on what your students are asking. We use VoiceThread, Twitter, Skype, blogs. Let us know what makes sense:Kristen


  10. Hi! We are a grade 6 Humanities and Language class at Vientiane International School, Lao PDR. We would love to help out. Please tell us how we can get started!

    all the best,
    Ms. Paula and her awesome grade sixes….


    1. Hi Paula

      What a shame you didn’t find us sooner 😦 We are just over a week away from the end of our school year. I hope we’ll be able to connect in 2012, though. Do you have a class blog?


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