“Collaboration is the key to a truly successful Professional Learning Community. This in turn supports student learning in ways that are not possible when working alone. An example of really great collaboration has been simmering slowly for the last year, and has recently heated up into an exciting and meaningful project. This endeavor is called The Global Hello Project.
I need to start by explaining a little bit about a teacher that I find the time to work with often. And when I say find the time, I really mean that I seek out this person, (even though there are always a million things going on) and make time to collaborate because of his great mind. Every so often in your life, you come across people who not only think like you, but challenge your thinking in ways to help you become a better person. My colleague and friend David (@grnngold) is easy to work with, has a positive attitude, and has innovative ideas all while keeping a focus on his students. As teachers I believe we all need to find the people who bring out the best in us, who keep us positive and allow us to achieve some of those lofty goals that are floating around in our heads.
We started the Global Hello Project last year when our class made a video about their school day. We shared it on a wiki page and encouraged others to do the same. Many schools (34 as of today) from all around the world have joined this project. In our current social studies curriculum we have requirements to teach map skills and global awareness. Global citizens need to be sensitive to other cultures, as well as how to find their way around the world. We figured there are two options to teach this skill:
1. Hand out a generic worksheet with fake maps and meaningless questions.
2. Map the Global Hello locations!
This is where things got exciting. David imagined a map taller than our students (I put away my pathetic 11 x 17 map)! Together we worked and tweaked and figured out how to get our students excited about using the map. Yesterday our two classes joined together and got a crash course on continents, countries, states and cities. We broke out to the computer lab, using Google maps to find the locations of the schools. The students then put a sticker of the school they picked on the map. On the spot, we were able to correct misconceptions (Alabama is NOT a country!). The students were engaged, working and were EXCITED. In one hour we were able to map everything and even collect data about the temperature of the city they picked. They logged their data on an index card, giving us instant feedback about their level of geographical knowledge. At the end of the lesson we noticed how the temperatures in different regions got warmer as we got closer to the equator. On the way out, students were asking each other what their favorite country was, and which school page they liked the most.
When your biggest problem as a teacher is that you have to tell your students to stop running back and forth from the map to the computer, you’re in a good spot.
When great minds truly do come together, students can and will achieve their potential.”