Thursday, November 19, 2015

Adventure 15: A Global Connection

A couple of months ago, one of my tweeps, Jason Elsom (@TeacherLike @JasonElsom), tweeted about a day of global connections and cultural exchange called Adventure 15 ( Adventure 15 is a one-day, global event where schools from different parts of the world connect through Google Hangouts, Skype, Twitter, or any other social media that fits their needs. I immediately signed up our team to participate. It sounded like a great opportunity to connect in real-time with a classroom in another country. After all, hundreds of thousands of school kids from around the world were going to participate in this day of learning.

Not knowing what to expect, I put this project on the back burner. Last week, I got an e-mail noting the classroom with which we had been paired. We were matched, because of time zones primarily, with an eighth grade class at Emerald Ridge Elementary School in Wind City, Saskatchewan, Canada.  The teacher at Emerald Ridge, Shaun Horsman (@Icogit8) and I exchanged e-mails to make sure that we were all set up. Because of video limitations, we conducted a Twitter chat under the hashtag #eckbrown so that our conversation would all be in one place. We also used the #adventure15 hashtag in our tweets so they wound up in the main, global conversation.

When the kids came to class, I told them that our session was a "go" and that they should find out as much about Emerald Ridge Elementary and White City, Saskatchewan as quickly as possible. They were on it! They used Google Earth to find out what the area looks like, did an image search for the school building (it is a new building, built in 2014) and tried to find out as much as possible about what kids in that area are like. Then, the chat began.

A big Harmony Team "hello" to Emerald Ridge Elementary in White City, Saskatchewan

We fired off a few questions to get started and then, suddenly, an answer popped up. The kids were drawn in at that point and basically ignored the questions we had prepared and just began calling out questions for me to type. I did my best to keep up and throughout the room, those who had Twitter accounts themselves, or those who created Twitter accounts on the spot, started peppering the conversation with questions for the Emerald Ridge kids or answering questions that they posed to us. Of course, the kids asked about food, music, the school schedule, the school year, languages, core and elective courses, and what the Canadian kids thought about Donald Trump. Our kids were asked lots of questions too, like what requirements we have in school, what kind of sports leagues our kids belong to, whether any of our kids play hockey, what our climate is like and if we like Tim Horton's. Our chat lasted about a half hour and every one of our kids was interested and engaged. They were learning from and sharing with kids from a province in Canada that many of them had never even heard of. They discovered that things are the same and different all over the world. What a great experience for these kiddos!

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