For the past fortnight we have been hosts of Lesedi, one of five travelling Rhinos sent round the world by Karen Stadler, who I have neer met, but connected with through email and twitter. Hawea Flat is a small rural school in the South Island of New Zealand and the closest Rhino to us is in a Zoo 5 hours drive away. We knew what a Rhino was and we knew who a poacher was, however we had no comprehension of how the two fitted together and what the devastating consequence of their connection was.
When Lesedi arrived in the mail we had to begin at the beginning. We read books, watched YouTube clips and researched on line. Quickly made connections to the horrific truth and the selfish reasons behind the problem. I have never seen a group of children become enraged so quickly over an issue.
So I simply asked “What can we do about it? We are to far away!” and showed them the distance between South Africa and Hawea Flat on Google Earth.
That is where the kids took over. They showed me that the skills that we have learned in class – ways to solve a problem and find a solution – were important and that when needed the kids could call upon them. In groups they thought of raising money, but then realized that money was not the problem, people were the problem and that not enough people knew about the issue (Kids came up with this – not me).
Then the class was off again…
“We can make a petition.”
“Put it on a Google Form.”
“Tweet it on our class Twitter and Mr Dyers Twitter.”
“Email it to all the parents.”
“Get them to like it on face book.”
“We can tell the parents at assembly too!”
…and like that the project made an impact on my class and our community. We blogged, tweeted and emailed. Posters and placards were made. Then, we received emails from the local paper asking for interviews. The class and myself have been stopped in the street and told that what we are doing is awesome.
If you have not added you name to this petition then click here to get to the form.
Through my classes participation in Karen’s Travelling Rhino Project we have learned firstly about the plight of the Rhino and raised the awareness of it to our community, but secondly that through projects such as this classrooms no longer need to have walls.
The Global Classroom is a reality and achievable for any educator and all you need is a concept or cause and a PLN to connect you with the world. You can collaborate on a blog, email, Skype, trade letters or tweet with another class, as the technology we have at our classrooms removes the barriers of distance, borders, language and timezone. This project only lasted two weeks, but it changed the way that I look at education and changed the way my class looks at the world.