Remember the excitement around having a penpal? I remember almost 50 years ago having a penpal in Germany – and how strange life sounded in that country! His name was ‘Axel’ and his letters inspired curious conversations and inquiry into what life was like for this mystery person on the other side of the world. Well, you can now provide that same experience for your students virtually using online tools and structured global project design – but with much better connection modes and more frequent communication.

Windows to the World is a NEW Flat Connections online global project designed for students in grades/years 3-6. The focus is on ‘intercultural penpal’ activities where students will write, respond, communicate and develop online learning and digital citizenship skills. Cross-classroom teams are formed using the tool Edmodo as the communication platform.

The Windows to the World project focuses on developing literacy and online communication skills while connected beyond the immediate classroom. The topics shared and discussed are real-world scenarios that aim to pique interest amongst students as to similarities and differences between classes and cultures.

Our Challenge:

To bring Grade/Year 3-6 classrooms around the world together for meaningful interactions and provide guided pathways for students to discuss ideas, work in teams and co-construct understandings.

Project Objectives

  • Literacy:
    • To share own experiences and interact with peers in an online environment
    • To use a range of software with fluency to construct, edit and publish written text, and select, edit and place visual, print and/or audio elements
  • Intercultural Understandings:
    • To stimulate students’ interest in the lives of others and to help them to connect and communicate with diverse groups of fellow students
    • To develop students’ abilities to recognise commonalities and differences between people and to develop empathy, respect and responsibility in actions
  • ICT:
    • To use online programs and web2.0 tools to share ideas and information and to collaboratively construct knowledge and digital solutions.
    • To apply social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT

Project Topics

Each week a new topic will be introduced and students will share their experiences and ideas on that topic with the other members of their team (10-12 students made up from 3-4 different schools/countries)

Examples of possible topics (input sought by teacher teams at beginning of project):

  • Me, Family, Pets
  • Location
  • Special interests, sports, hobbies
  • School
  • Food
  • Holidays
  • Celebrations
  • Music
  • Technology Use – TV, computers, Video games etc.

Project structure

Guiding Questions:

  • Can young students effectively connect, communicate, and collaborate in an online global project?
  • Can literacy and digital citizenship skills be taught and developed when using online tools and connecting with a genuine audience?
  • What activities and structure can we design and implement to scaffold this collaboration?
  • Can intercultural understanding be strengthened by identifying the similarities and differences of students participating in this project?
  • Can teams consolidate knowledge gained about others, reflect on this and produce artifacts that can be shared online with project participants?

Project Outcomes

The Windows to the World project has these mandatory components for students:

  1. All students use Edmodo in their groups to communicate on the agreed topics per week.
  2. Students to respond to team members posts.
  3. New topics are posted for 5 consecutive weeks
  4. Students from same school in a team are allocated one specific topic each, from those already shared
  5. Students review contributions on that topic by fellow team members
  6. Students decide on multimedia to be used and create an artifact to share based on their given topic.
  7. Celebration of learning through shared outcomes and reflections

Are you a teacher of Grade/Year 3-6? Come and join your class ro Windows to the World now!

The project launches February 19 – we already have classrooms from Thailand, USA and Nepal ready to start.

READ MORE and SUBSCRIBE on the Flat Connections website.

Contact Julie Lindsay if you have questions.

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