Global Whale Project: handshake activity

Diversity Tiles shared on Flickr by Stephanie Asher

Diversity Tiles shared on Flickr by Stephanie Asher

Global Project Kick-off: Celebrating Diversity

Starting a global project with an interactive handshake activity allows students to express themselves with images and their voice in preparation for the excitement of their first virtual face-to-face meeting. Prior to the handshake teachers organise students into teams so they can be invited to their shared Google Presentation.

The benefits of an exciting handshake activity.

The handshake activity is focused on the students and creating an environment of care. As a kick-off activity students at this middle school level (13-15) are immediately engaged in creating their handshake product and naturally start asking about the project and their global partners.

  • Who is involved? Do they have a family? What are their favourite books and sport?
  • What countries are involved? How can we communicate? What are the time zones?
  • What name will we use?

These questions lead to a discussion about the norms of behaviour and what is appropriate language and names to use. In this way, students start the project by thinking about how to write online in a professional manner for a school project. Discussions about digital citizenship and cultural awareness of sensitive issues occur as students begin the project by learning effective technopersonal skills and how to show respect for participants.

The handshake also initiates classroom discussions about the project’s focus questions and the tools for communication: the wiki, the Google doc and presentation, teams (their PLN) and how to use free web 2.0 tools such as avatars and SoundCloud.

When starting the handshake activity it is best that all participating schools join the wiki and the Google doc in the same week and if possible on the same day and time so students can get responses and start developing communication with their teams. A calendar of lesson times for the different schools keeps everyone in touch. This handshake activity uses Google Presentations and is entitled Diversity Tiles. Students work individually but they can also experience a synchronous environment using Google Presentations and this makes social connection very real, stimulating communication and friendships.

The handshake activity is also an opportunity for teachers to establish work routines. To start the lesson student go to their team wiki page. This PLN is their launchpad to connect, to respond to discussions, to look at information and to make a list of what they have to do each lesson. In my class for the FCGP14-2 I had a poster of our work routine and this really kept us on track with tasks and also with navigating the wiki and google docs. We ended the lesson with reflection and sharing of any challenges and solutions.

Handshake Activity for Global Whale Project: Creating Diversity Tiles 

Handshake Activity: global whale project celebrating cultural diversity.

Handshake Activity: global whale project celebrating cultural diversity.

The primary purpose of this handshake activity is to open the lines of communication and create a community that is caring and respectful. It is an extension on a previous handshake activity that used Google docs. I wanted to use a similar format to allow for asynchronous and synchronous communication but this time Google Presentations should provide a great space for students to express themselves artistically and with audio.

Prior Knowledge and class time

Class time will be needed for students to become familiar with Google Presentations, how to insert an image and a link. Time will also be needed to choose an avatar site, sign in to SoundCloud or other audio recording  app that is available.

Step 1. Students create an Avatar to represent themselves. This involves thinking about appropriate images and how some images may scare or offend other people. Students may want to take a photo of a meaningful object instead of using an Avatar or they can draw a talisman to represent themselves, take a photo or scan and save as a jpeg or png.

Step 2. Audio recording using SoundCloud

Step 3. Upload  image and audio to create your Diversity Tile on the handshake Google Presentation.

Step 4. Upload other images and insert links or titles.

Step 5. Using Google comment say hello and ask a question to all team members.

The first real meeting

These handshake presentations can be used again to support the eventual real meeting when the teams put a face to their other team members to get the reaction “Oh that’s what they look like!”

Finally, the Google handshake presentations can be made into slideshows and put up on the wiki for the whole global project community to share.




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    • Hi Julie, Thanks for your comment. The individual Google Presentation slides would look great as a school exhibition and also as a slideshow on school or class websites. Cheers Ann

    • Hi Bess, yes I hope to have a global collaboration over Term 3, 2015. It is called- The Global Whale Project: Celebrating Cultural Diversity and our Shared Global Environment. It involves class time of about 45 minutes a week for 10 weeks plus teacher meetings once a week for 30 minutes. if you have some students who would like to participate please keep in touch.

  1. Ann, I love the term ‘diversity tiles’ and your handshake description shares a unique approach geared towards generating excitement and interest in the pending collaboration. I agree also that all participants in a collaboration need to ‘shake hands’ in the same time period…..over 1 week is a good idea.

    • Thanks Julie, I hope that this handshake activity will produce some creative “diversity tiles’ that will give students a platform to express themselves artistically and orally through their use of communication technology. The slides could become a legacy and be made public by printing for school displays or as a slide show for the school websites.

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