Monday, November 4, 2013

Connect2Texas - A Great Resource!

For the past two weeks we have had a Texas Critters Discovery Trunk in our room that was sent to us from The Texas Wildlife Association. The trunk contained pelts and skulls of a white tailed deer and a raccoon, skulls and feet of a red-tailed hawk and a wild turkey, books, rubbing plates, and a newsletter for each student. We had a lot of fun exploring the trunk and learning about native animals of Texas.

skulls and feet

bird calls and replicas of an Armadillo and Texas Horned Toad

The students had fun with the rubbing plates and used the books in the trunk to identify the animals by their footprints.

I found out about the trunk through Connect2Texas - a great resource for educators:

Connect2Texas is a network of Texas-based educational content providers including museums, cultural, historical, and scientific organizations, and authors.  These providers utilize interactive videoconferencing to connect to schools and deliver live educational programs and professional development to school children and educators around Texas and across the country.  Bring the scientists, experts, and authors directly to your students without leaving the classroom!

The Texas Wildlife Association is just one of the many program providers. We did a live video-conference with them and learned about nocturnal animals. We also participated in "So You Think You Saw What Happened" by The Amon Carter Museum. The Perot Museum visited our school and did a live presentation called "Fire and Ice". 

Originally, I contacted the Perot Museum about doing a video-conference presentation, but then I learned about their scholarship program and was able to bring them to our school for a reduced cost. Other Connect2Texas providers that have scholarships available to pay for distance learning programs include The Amon Carter Museum, Texas Cowgirl Museum, and the Fort Worth Zoo

Some of the programs have fees, but there are many that are free. The discovery trunk was provided at no charge. 

Many schools in Texas cannot afford to send students on fieldtrips. Connect2Texas provides a wide variety of programs that meet state standards (TEKS) and can help you bring the world to your students!

Photo credit: Miller

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our Global Classroom Projects

Since the beginning of school, my classroom has been busy with many global projects.  We started off September with International Peace Day and Dot Day.  In October, Siyanda the Traveling Rhino arrived along with Charlotte, a flat friend from Australia.  These projects have kept us busy, but it's a good busy. We are learning about the world around us, different cultures, and empathy. 

The Traveling Rhino Project 
Karen Stadler @ICT_Integrator

This Global Classroom Project was created by Karen Stadler in S. Africa after she visited Kruger National Park July 2012. Poachers are killing rhinos in large numbers for their horns and Karen wanted to bring awareness to the situation. She sent 5 Rhinos around the world and the project caught on. At this point, there is no end in sight for this project. 

This map shows a different color for each rhino and where they have been so far.
Educators are keen to participate because they see the value in the project:
  • To educate the children of South Africa and the rest of the world about these beautiful creatures.

  • To raise awareness among the children of the world as to the plight of these gentle giants. To unite the voices of the children of the world in asking the powers that be i.e. governments, organisations, institutions etc. to take IMMEDIATE action.

  • To try to make a difference in our world and in the future existence of the rhinos, for the future of our children

  • To promote and nurture empathy.

Flat Friends and Mascot Exchange 
Julie Simmons @BJacketsFan

I received an email from Jane Sloan at Roseville College Junior School in Australia asking if we would host a flat friend. I have never participated in this type of project so I agreed.  Charlotte arrived with her friend Koala and a book all about Australia and her school. My students loved learning about Australia and comparing our two schools. Charlotte accompanied us on a field trip to a local theater and inspired us to create a book all about Texas for her class.   

The value of this project includes:

  • To share information about one’s own community and culture with students from other cultures and communities

  • To learn about places around the world by monitoring the adventures of flat friends’ visits to participating classrooms.

  • To develop an understanding of maps and to identify other places on a map

Mystery Location / Mystery Skype
A collaborative effort by HLW Skypers

This project can be something you do weekly throughout the year. It is a great way to meet and connect with new classrooms. So far, my students have participated in 6 mystery skype sessions.  It takes a while to teach them the map and communication skills needed to be successful for this activity, but it is fun and engaging. The Global Classroom Project currently has almost 200 classes on their list that you can connect with! 

The value of this project includes:
  • Students will use map skills to find the location of the mystery classroom

  • Students will use communication and critical thinking skills to ask questions to help them find the mystery location.

  • Classes communicate with other classrooms via Skype or Google+ Hangouts.

  • Students will learn to respect and appreciate the cultures and customs of others.

  • Students will be able to see the differences and similarities between themselves and others around the world.

Currently the Global Classroom Project is hosting 17 projects. These projects were created by educators for educators who understand that 21st century learning means connecting and learning with classrooms around the world. 

Please join Michael Graffin for our official launch at the Global Education Conference. During his online presentations, you will have the opportunity to meet the project creators and participants and learn about each project. He will be doing two presentations to accomodate time zones:

#1 - Global Education Conference (Nov 22 at 11:00GMT - Time converter)

6AM New York, 11AM London, 7PM Shanghai)

#2 - Saturday Nov 23 (20:00GMT, 3PM New York, sunday Nov 24 - 7AM Sydney, 9AM Auckland) (Time Converter)