This month’s Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers series, hosted by CM Rubin World, posed the question “What are the best ways for a teacher to engage their classroom in a global conversation?”
Wonderful examples already exist of students engaging with others from around the world. Through the Primary Blogging Community, teachers of grade K-4 students can connect with other classrooms in five-week cycles. Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) launched the Global Read Aloud in 2010. Since then, students from over 60 countries have participated and connected. With Mystery Skype, students engage in 45-60 minute inquiry sessions with other students to make geographic and cultural connections. To learn how to get started, Paul Solarz (@PaulSolarz) has an excellent guide for educators. Just this past month, students circled the globe 120 times in just two days as part of Microsoft’s annual Skype-a-thon.
However, all of these projects have one element in common: they each require the teachers to be connected and engaged in a global conversation. I often hear teachers talk about how they wish that their students could conduct themselves better online or engage in more effective communications. Most of us grew up in a time before Google was a verb; you could tweet to someone; and AIM (remember that?) existed. Our parents and teachers modeled how to write letters, make phone calls, and engage in conversation. Now that the platforms and audiences for conversation have increased exponentially, the best way that we can engage our classrooms in global conversation may be to engage ourselves.
Right now, I’ve been watching #12daystwitter unfold online. To learn the backstory, I reached out to Ann Feldmann (@annfeldmann1) of Bellevue, Nebraska. She explained that the #12daystwitter kicked off on December 1st and in just a few days had reached a global audience. Last year, during a local unconference outside of Omaha, educator Mickie Mueller (@mickiemueller) suggested the idea. Now in its second year, this tangible challenge has reached thousands of people from around the world. “Joining an upbeat conversation is a great way to engage in a global conversation,” Ann tweeted to me. “I am always amazed at the people power collaborating in the Twitterverse.”
Whether you choose Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Edmodo, or any other platform, the first step is to introduce yourself. Join a Twitter Chat, hop into a Google+ Community, or subscribe to a LinkedIn Group. To engage our students in the global conversation, we need to make sure that we first engage ourselves.