Global Connection: Google Handshake

Google handshake 2

Students introduce themselves and share their interests

This post is a reflection on a ‘handshake’ activity between two year 8 classes across the Tasman Sea using Google docs.

As part of a Skype in the Classroom learning unit investigating Maori symbols, my year 8 English, class, here in Adelaide, are collaborating with a year 8 Art class in New Zealand.

As both schools have different LMS, Canvas and Moodle, we decided to create a shared online space using Wikispaces. On this site teachers uploaded resources on Maori Symbols and educational information on digital citizenship.

The wiki also provides discussions but we decided to use Google docs for the ‘handshake’ activity as it is familiar to both students and teachers.

Google Handshake

Handshake Activity using Google docs.

Students added their avatars and shared information about themselves. This was a simple and friendly way to start and all students had fun creating their avatars and deciding what information was appropriate to share.

Today, when we checked to see if the New Zealand students had contributed to the Google doc we were surprised to see their avatars and to find out about them- their hobbies and their interests.  As I walked around assisting students with their replies it was interesting to hear students commenting about how similar they are to their new New Zealand friends. “I’ve found someone just like me.”

The students were caring and open-minded and wanted to connect with others who live in a country that most have never been to.

Luckily, when my students were writing, some of the New Zealand students also started writing and chats in real time grew.  All of these conversations were projected onto the whiteboard enabling the whole class to be part of the online discussions.

It was an inspiring moment and we can’t wait to see our new friends in the Skype to meet them and to learn about the symbolism of Maori culture.

Flat Connections Blog

Global projects assist teachers and students in being able to demonstrate all those attributes, but especially open-minded, risk-taking, and reflective. In a global project, classrooms around the world meet virtually to discuss cultural similarities and differences. For students who may never get to travel outside of their neighborhood or school, this global experience is essential because they will hear ideas and opinions that they themselves have not thought about. Even understanding students in a different school in the United States can open up their minds allowing them to care and reflect on their life. International Mindedness

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