Last February, I was accepted and attended the Google Innovator Academy in Mountain View, CA. It was the three most inspiring and eye opening days of my career so far. As part of the application and continued growth process, we had to come up with a solution to a problem we saw in education.
I saw a huge need in creating more collaborative learning environments in classrooms, more specifically, creating more global collaboration experiences for students. So… I developed Classroom Bridges.
Classroom Bridges is a free website to connect teachers around the world. You go to the site at classroombridges.com, sign up with your contact information and a general outline of the curriculum you’ll be covering throughout the year, then you can search and find another teacher based on location, subject, language spoken, etc. Once you’ve found a teacher, you reach out to them to develop a learning experience for students in both classrooms.
Within the first month of launching the site, I received a lot more interest than I had expected and classrooms around the world were already connecting, which was fabulous. Now, there are 120 classrooms from 18 different countries!
In August of this year, I launched a site redesign and a new location (classroombridges.com). With some encouragement from my mentor, Carla Arena, I started a monthly newsletter in October to highlight the teachers who have joined Classroom Bridges over the previous month. I hope this will encourage further participation and connections after the initial sign up on Classroom Bridges.
One of my big goals this year is to build up the resources page of Classroom Bridges. I think I initially underestimated the support that teachers would need to feel confident enough to reach out and develop a global collaboration experience for their students. In hindsight- duh! That’s a big, BIG leap from what we’re used to seeing and doing in the classroom. That’s why I’m moving up my timeline to build the resources page from what I had initially intended. If you have a virtual classroom collaboration experience to share, please comment on this post or share it with me on Classroom Bridges.
Many of you may already know about Google’s Education on Air event happening this coming weekend (December 2-3). If not, it’s a free, online conference. I was psyched when I was asked to present with a few other Google Innovators about our projects. Tune in here on December 3 at 1:30 p.m. EST/ 10:30 a.m. PST to hear more about Classroom Bridges and other Innovator projects.
I’d love your help in reaching 200 teachers on Classroom Bridges by the year anniversary mark (March 24). Head on over to ClassroomBridges.com to sign up, and share it with your PLNs on social media using #ClassroomBridges. Do you know someone who would be willing to set up a classroom to classroom connection? Share Classroom Bridges with them. Thanks for all your help!
What questions do you have about collaborating with other classrooms? What advice would you give?
Tech To You Later!
As a side note, I was happy to see ISTE create an entire category of “Global Collaborator” for the new Student Standards released this past June. I hope the same follows suit for the new Teacher Standards that are in the process of being refreshed and will be released June of 2017.