Wednesday, March 14, 2018

5 Ways to Break Down the Walls of Your Classroom with Tech You Can Do

Inspiration
The world we live in has so many amazing opportunities for our students to connect beyond the walls of our classrooms. Yet it can be overwhelming to DO this. Recently, I was able to sit in on two sessions where groups of 4th graders were able to converse with scientists from a different state! If you are willing, try out at least one of the activities - low-risk - below. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

Description 
No, I'm NOT suggesting you throw your computer at a brick wall (maybe cinderblock is a more accurate description) ... but seriously. Our devices give us the opportunity to connect like never before! It can be scary, but it doesn't have to be. Any good teacher knows that hands-on & interactive learning tops lecture any day. 

Field trips are nice ... but a LOT of planning! Not to mention cost. And even more, the weather plays a role, lunchtime, the school day, chaperones, special circumstances, and the list goes on. If you have Internet connection and a little bit of technology, you and your students have unlimited possibilities just waiting!


Take a field trip just about anywhere in the world! No permission slips, no weather worries, no buses needed! Search the list of over 700 available Expeditions - climb Mt. Everest ... explore the Galapagos Islands ... see what it's like to be paid to eat chocolate! ... college tours ... explore the volcanoes of Hawaii ... and on & on!

Here's what you need:

✅ iPads (or a handheld mobile devices)
✅ FREE Expeditions app
✅ Google account (teacher only ... to be the "lead explorer"
✅ Google Sheet with ALL 700+ available Expeditions [LINK]




It doesn't get any better than this! On-demand virtual field trips AND "chats" with well-known authors. Just pull up the website and 👊 click 💥 you are rolling! Want to visit the Ellis Island? How about the American Museum of Natural History? The Clearwater Marine Aquarium? Just a click away!

Their website states: "Scholastic's mission is built on helping children learn to read and love to read."

Here's what you need:

✅ website "Scholastic: Free Online Classroom Webcasts and Videos"
✅ Internet
✅ ideally, a projector for "best" viewing


This is a relatively new adventure for me, but a really amazing one! Imagine your students talking to a REAL paleontologist ... or a scientist who studies plant genetics ... or even a computer scientist?!?! Yes! It's possible! The website, ingeniously called www.skypeascientist.com/ provides all the details, walks you through the process, and allows you to connect with scientists who are WILLING and WANT to connect with students! I was honored to be a part of a 4th grade classroom where they've connected with scientists and it's awesome!

Here's what you need:

✅ website www.skypeascientist.com/ to sign up
✅ Internet & a Skype account (don't worry, it's free!)
✅ connect with the scientists you are interested in & set up your sessions


The website states, "The global guessing game that gets kids learning about geography, culture, and the similarities and differences of how children live all over the world." Sign up for a free account and connect with professionals and/or other classes who also want to break down the walls of their classrooms. 

Here's what you need:

✅ website Mystery Skype & free Skype account
✅ decide where to go OR who to connect with

📕 Read more about Mystery Skype by Matt Miller. 📘


Skype an Author ↠ this is another awesome resource! I came across this one as I sat in on a meeting of teachers who were planning a week of reading themed activities. How cool is this possibility?!?!

Now, we've not done this yet, but coming across this sounds like a GOLDMINE! Talking with authors of books that are available to your students adds a layer of authenticity that just can't be duplicated. Who better to talk about the "ins and outs" of writing than an author? How real is that?!

Here's what you need:

✅ website "Authors who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs"
✅ identify an author - or two! - that you want to connect with
✅ CONNECT! (Please read the fine print ... authors may have different requirements)


This has gone on long enough ... enough writing/reading ... pick one and DO it! You can't go wrong! And please let me know ... tweet me @kiefersj

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