Classroom Bridges: Making Classroom Connections More Accessible

So… I did it! I created the first version of what started as my vision for the Google Certified Innovator application. I definitely don’t think it’s perfect, but we were encouraged to get our prototype out as soon as possible, so we could start collecting feedback and making changes based on that feedback. In order for me to do that, I need to get this out to as many teachers in as many different locations as possible. The majority of classrooms in the U.S. will be concluding for summer break at the end of May, and I’d love to have some feedback before then. So, on with it…

Introducing (drum roll please):

Classroom Bridges Logo

If you are looking for other classrooms to connect your students with around the world, then you’ll want to check out Classroom Bridges! The main purpose of Classroom Bridges is to help teachers find other teachers around the world who are willing to collaborate with them and their students. These connections could be something as small as doing a Google Hangout to expand students’ audience for class presentations, or they could be much larger scale projects where students are working together (in two different locations) to complete an end of unit project. As the project develops, more resources will be included on the site to give teachers ideas on how to connect their students with one another.

Why the Need?

Developing global and cultural awareness and collaboration skills are so important for our students in today’s workforce, yet so many students are not given this opportunity. The International Society for Technology in Education has developed standards for teachers and students, which both indicate the need for students and teachers to work collaboratively with people from other parts of the world to gain a global perspective and understanding. At the bottom of this post is an infographic I created about the the standards and the importance of connecting your students with students in other cultures. You can view all the standards in depth here.
Also included in the infographic is a very brief summary of the Future Work Skills of 2020 study conducted by the Institute for the Future and the University of Phoenix Research Institute. Many of the identified drivers of change and skills for the future reflect the need to give our students more opportunities to connect and collaborate with students from other cultures. You can read the entire report here.

So, What Do I Do?

To use Classroom Bridges, all you have to do is fill out the Sign Up form, and then search for a classroom using the map and filters on the Find a Classroom page. Once you have found another teacher/classroom that you would like to work with, you will reach out to the other teacher(s) using the information they provided on the site. After you make your connection with another classroom, I have another short form for you to fill out, so I can keep track of how many classrooms are making connections as a result of Classroom Bridges.

After you visit the site, whether you make a connection or not, I’d love to have your feedback (especially from folks outside the United States regarding anything that doesn’t make sense to you because our education systems are a bit different)! I’ll continuously be making improvements based on user feedback.

A Few Last Things…

I want to give a shout out to my mentor, Carla Arena, in Brazil. Each Innovator from my cohort was paired with a previous Innovator to mentor them through their projects. She gave me a lot of great ideas for this project and immediately pointed out some differences I was unaware of between the education systems in Brazil vs the United States! I’m really looking forward to working with her as Classroom Bridges continues to develop.

I also want to give a big thank you to my fellow Innovator cohort-mates for giving me feedback and sharing the site almost immediately when I shared it with them. It seems fitting that my partner from day 1 of the Innovator Academy, Stacy Yung, was the first teacher to sign up- thanks, partner!!

And of course, none of it would be possible if my company, Forward Edge, didn’t believe in me, support me and send me to the Innovation Academy in the first place. I am so fortunate to work at a place so dedicated to the world of education.

So, please checkout Classroom Bridges at classroombridges.com, sign up, share it with other teachers (use #classroombridges on social media), make connections with other classrooms, and send me your feedback!

If you have any examples of a global or virtual collaboration project, please comment on this post with a link! As I begin to build a resources page for Classroom Bridges, I’d love to include your work. And now, that infographic I promised you.

global-connections-infographic

 

Tech To You Later!
-Katie

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