Tag Archives: International VCs

Continuum of Videoconferencing Collaborations

We’ve looked at a continuum of equipment/software solutions for videoconferencing, a continuum of interactivity, and a continuum of depth of learning. Today, let’s think about a continuum of collaboration. We can think about it on several levels.

Continuum of WHO Collaborates

Continuum of Collaboration

The level of collaboration in a videoconference is closely related to the continuum of interactivity. Think about this:

  • The simplest level of a collaboration is where both classes present to each other; then ask each other questions. This is the most common method and the easiest way to get started. Many Read Around the Planet connections start at this level; and most of the collaborations in CAPspace are at this level too. The Around the World with 80 Schools uses this simple format as well. Is that bad? I don’t think so! Teachers have to start with something simple and easy; not too threatening and with a low commitment/preparation level. I am reminded of Jen Wagner’s concept of puddle projects vs. well projects. It’s ok to do puddle projects!
  • Involving the other class in your presentation. You may still present, but figure out a way to involve the other class in the presentation. Roxanne Glaser shared many ideas in the Read Around the Planet teacher guide, and in this blog post: Lights, Cameras, Interactions.
  • Students collaborate within the classroom. There are many collaboration or project formats where students work in groups to collaboratively solve a problem: MysteryQuests, preparing ASK questions, Math Measurement Riddles, etc.
  • Students collaborating across classrooms. This method of collaboration seems to work best when supporting technologies such as wikis as used to provide asychronous support between videoconferences. These collaborations tend to be longer term as well. One example would be the novel in an hour format Roxanne Glaser used in her ISTE workshop this year. See the results on the wiki here. Another example would be the CILC Vistas in depth projects, where students work collaboratively to solve community problems.

Have you experienced this continuum? Where do most of your videoconferences fall along the line? Any other insights to share? Please comment!

Spanish Partner Classes, International Matches…

Are you starting to think about your videoconferences for the 2010-2011 school year? Maybe you want to connect to another country.

I notice many collaborations on CAPspace looking for partners in Latin or Spanish countries to practice Spanish.

I also got an email this summer from someone complaining that they had registered on many sites, but had not yet found an international partner.

Here’s my advice:

Start with North America!

  • The time zones are easier to manage.
  • There are many culture differences available if you just look carefully.
  • You can learn to be sensitive to and appreciate other cultures within a more comfortable framework. Then you’ll be ready to do more international connections.

Bilingual Spanish Classes

Skype call arranged by Silvia Tolisano between Jewish students in Florida and Muslim students in Minnesota. They showed each other their prayer books and demonstrated how they pray.

  • For Spanish, try bilingual classes in California, Texas and Florida, for starters. Plenty of native Spanish speakers delighted to talk to your students! Enough classes to share around with all of us! Enough that you could have a partner class for each section/hour that you teach.

Compare World Religions

  • Silvia Tolisano arranged a VC between a small Jewish day school in Florida and Muslim students in Minnesota! (See photo.)
  • Connections to large urban districts almost guarantee an “international / global” experience.

So, don’t get discouraged! But start small and by using resources close at hand!

Around the World: Misconceptions Resolved

I’m cleaning my website again, and archiving old things here on my blog. This is a lesson plan / planning page for an international project we did in 2008. The report from 2008 is on my blog here.

Around the World: Misconceptions Resolved

Description: Students will identify misconceptions they hold regarding other cultures, while identifying and dispelling misconceptions held about their own culture. Preparation will involve researching other countries, journaling responses to reading, and formulating questions for interaction with students in other countries.

Subject Area: Reading and Writing
Intended Grade Level: Middle School (ages 12-14 – negotiable)

Time: This project will require several 45 minute videoconferences with interested schools throughout a 12 hour period. Before the videoconference, students will need approximately three weeks to research and present information to their classmates.

Moodle Project Website Login
Need help logging in? Email Janine at janine.lim@berrienresa.org.

Preparation Materials & Lesson Plan

Preparation: The host class, Coloma Middle School, will divide classes into groups to interact with each partner school.

The participating classes may also wish to divide students into groups to research the other countries, but they will only interact with Coloma Middle School in their time (see the schedule). They will be able to watch the streaming live, or watch it recorded later. (Windows Media Streaming).

After class discussion about why we develop misconceptions abut other cultures, students will engage in the following activities:

  1. Identify misconceptions other cultures have about citizens of your country
  2. Research the other countries participating using the suggested links, other links, as well as encyclopedias, almanacs. Be sure your sources are credible and relevant. Be aware of potential bias.
  1. Create Jeopardy game questions to be used in the video conference
  2. Create a skit that humorously dispels misconceptions others may have about the your country
  3. Respond (through journal writing) to teacher reading aloud books that introduce cultures of other countries. Suggested books may be found on these websites:

Optional: Create a brochure or poster to depict the country you researched. Be able to locate your country on a map. Topics may include major cities, urban and rural life, vital resources, ethnic foods, arts, cultural creations exported, type of money used, deadly wildlife, and any other important aspects of the country. Pictures will enhance the brochure.

Each participant is asked to prepare questions for discussion with students from other countries. Questions may include any of the following or those you create.

  • What do students your age do for fun or recreation?
  • Describe what you think describes the typical American student.
  • What are your typical schools like? (length, classes)
  • What misconceptions do you think others have of your country?
  • What do you think are the biggest problems in the world today and how can we solve them? What should be your country’s and the USA’s role in solving these world problems? What can I personally do to change things?
  • Should the goal of culture or government be to make people better or make them better off?
  • What is the best thing about living in your country?
  • Explain the various opportunities in education and chosen professions for each gender and economic class.
  • Do couples in your country choose their own marriage partners, or do their parents make that arrangement for them?
  • What values or personality traits are most valued in your country? (What have I learned while growing up?

Learner Outcomes:

  • W.GN.07.03 formulate research questions using multiple resources, perspectives, and arguments/counterarguments to develop a thesis statement that culminates in a final presented project using the writing process
  • W.PR.07.01 set a purpose, consider audience, and replicate authors’ styles and patterns when writing a narrative/informational piece
  • R.IT.07.01 analyze the structure, elements, features, style, and purpose of informational genre, including persuasive essay, research report, brochure, personal correspondence, autobiography, and biography
  • R.CM.07.01 connect personal knowledge, experience, and understanding of the world to themes and perspectives in text through oral and written responses
  • R.CM.07.03 analyze global themes, universal truths, and principles within and across texts to create a deeper understanding by drawing conclusions, making inferences, and synthesizing

Possible GLCEs:

  • W.EN.07.02 write a research report using a wide variety of resources that includes appropriate organizational patterns
  • R.WS.07.07 in context determine the meaning of words and phrases including cross-cultural expressions, …literary terms using strategies and authentic content-related resources
  • R.IT.07.03 explain how authors use writer’s craft and text features including metaphors, similes, captions, diagrams, and appendices to enhance the understanding of central, key, and supporting ideas

Time: This project will require several 45 minute videoconferences with interested schools throughout a 12 hour period. Before the videoconference, students will need approximately three weeks to research and present information to their classmates.

Template to create Jeopardy game
Construction paper for brochures or
Poster board for information display (use large lettering)
Props for play

Post Activities
Discussion of new information learned.

Journal Write reflection about what the student likes best about his/her country and the country studied. What have they learned? Would they visit the country they studied? What’s one thing learned that previously was not known? Which of the other country’s sports, hobbies or food would the students like to try?

Assessment and Evaluation

  • Students will be given a participation grade
  • Their journal writing will be assessed for quality, length, and content
  • Student-created brochures will be assessed using a rubric

Videoconference Agenda Updated!!
Each connection will last 45 minutes

  • 10 minutes – Welcome and Introductions. Each class shares location and brief information about school/area
  • Suggested format for presenting class (open to negotiation) 10 minutes – The presenting class will perform humorous skit depicting and dispelling misconceptions others may have about their country.
  • 15 minutes – The presenting class hosts a game show (Jeopardy or something similar) for the interacting classes to compete. The game show is about the host class’ country/culture. If you want, you can use a PowerPoint template.
  • 10 minutes – Discussion questions round robin. Any school can ask a question of any other interactive school in that session.
    Good-byes and sign off.
    (If extra time allows, students may share brochure projects.)

Coloma Middle School will interact with each class. Each interaction will be recorded and streamed so the participating classes not interactive at that session will be able to watch the sessions they aren’t in.


We partnered with the following schools:

  • Karachi High School, Pakistan
  • Lincoln School, Costa Rica
  • American Nicaraguan School, Nicagarua
  • Instituto Experimental de la Asuncion, Guatemala

Project Authors:

  • Peggy Clore, Coloma Middle School, Coloma, MI
  • Stephanie Pevac, Coloma Middle School, Coloma, MI
  • Videoconference Support: Janine Lim, janine.lim@berrienresa.org

Lessons Learned: Reflections from Two Years Later

This project was very interesting for the students and teachers. However, we learned that the skits were very difficult to follow. Students didn’t speak up loudly enough, or the skit came too fast to understand. Each class tried to help the other class to understand the misconceptions about their culture, but it was difficult to understand what was true, what was the misconception, and why it was a misconception through the medium of the skit. We thought skits would be creative, but they actually made it very hard to understand.

A better way to do this might have been to introduce the misconception, explain why it is a misconception and what the truth is, and then do the skit – more slowly & clearly and with visuals to help explain.

Another interesting thing we learned was that, for example, one country might have thought the other country had that misconception, when really they didn’t at all. Or they had no conceptions at all, not even misconceptions.

So…. the next time you want to do an international videoconference, consider what we tried to do and what we learned from it. Our recommendations would be:

  • Make it simple
  • Use visuals to communicate clearly
  • Think about what both sides know about the other students already (if anything) … use that to guide planning

What other tips do you have for international connections?

Video Conferencing to Promote Global Learning

Global Poster Session: Diane Midness, iEARN-USA with Tonya Muro Phillips, Global Nomads Group.

Last night in the poster sessions, Diane and Tonya explained how GNG and iEARN partnered to extend the learning in the GNG videoconferences. Global Nomads does amazing programs by taking videoconferencing equipment onsite to remote locations throughout the world.

Featured programs included Haiti and Uganda, and you can see more clips of their programs online here.

Tonya and Diane talk to interested poster session participants.

It was great to see how GNG and iEARN have partnered. GNG is good at videoconferencing, and iEARN is good at the asynchronous online community. The iEARN sites provide follow-up and continued conversations between the schools that participated in the kick-off videoconferencing.  A great model!

Light and Shadows with Wales, UK

Today we have a 2nd grade class connecting to Wales to share what they’ve been learning about light and shadows, via puppet shows.

First the students in the UK told us about some of the light-related vocabulary and facts they learned. Then they told a story about a worm with rhyme and shadow puppets, as well as the story of Goldilocks and the three bears and other fairy tales.

Then Calvin Britain students shared their shadow puppet stories, using their bodies to create the visuals. The effect was very neat, but is hard to capture in a still image:

Afterwards the students asked each other questions and learned about their communities! This was a very visually creative videoconference! Great work on the part of teachers and students!

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Do You Match?

Today we had another videoconference with a class in Wales, UK. This collaboration is a result of the Jazz workshop and is a spin-off of the Monster Match format. Both classes created teddy bears, wrote descriptions, and emailed them to the partner classes. Then they made each other’s teddy bears. Today’s videoconference was to see how well they matched. The students in this videoconference were preschool 5/6 year olds.

Teddy Bear

Each child from both classes had brought a teddy bear from home to show on camera.

The classes enjoyed comparing the teddy bears and seeing what was the same and where they had challenges. We found out that students in Wales don’t use the term “curly cues” and weren’t sure how to draw that on the teddy bear they made to match ours.

The classes also spent some time asking each other questions, such as:

  • Do you watch TV and what programs do you watch?
  • What time is it there?

They also compared how their countries address chicken pox – in the UK several students were off because they had chicken pox. None of our students have had it since they had a shot for it.

Our partner class in the UK also showed us a teddy bear they made with recycled materials that will be the mascot for their Eco Committee.

The students in Wales also sang a song to our students in Welsh, along with fun actions to say goodbye.

This format is so easy and enjoyable for young students. They learn so much from the program – speaking and listening skills, as well as drawing, describing, comparing, and of course what children are like in another country.

International VCs and Service Learning

Today we have several amazing videoconferences for our rural students in Berrien County.


Reed Middle School, in Bridgman, is connecting to a class in the UK to discuss environmental issues. The class in the UK shared with us information about carbon emissions, including some great posters and a RAP that started with:

hey hey, we’re here today, to tell our friends in the USA about CO2

Our students shared the issues around bottled water including health, media advertising, costs, public water supplies and more. After the thorough presentations, students asked each other questions about the weather, their school systems, uniforms. The students clearly enjoyed the interaction and learned from the other class.

Stand Up, Speak Out with MAGPI

Lakeshore Middle School has been participating in a unique serving learning program with MAGPI. In the kick-off conference, students interviewed holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein. As a follow-up, they participated in service learning projects and reported on the results on the project wiki. In today’s session the schools at each site are reflecting on their experiences with service learning and the impact of the program on their understanding.

Talking to Students in Haiti with Global Nomads Group

Upton Middle School and St. Joseph High School are participating in the Global Nomads Group program with students in Haiti. You can read more about it here. The program was a two part connection, starting the conversation with the students in Haiti on Monday and continuing today. The participating classes are also raising money for Haiti through StudentsRebuild.org. You can see part of the action: watch the live webcast on Friday, March 26 at 12:00 Eastern. More details on the GNG home page. These are incredibly powerful experiences, as students hear the stories of the students in Haiti, building empathy and understanding. We also were moved by the interaction of between Haitian students in Florida and the students in Haiti. GNG’s programs are always incredible!

Seems like these VCs are a great way to celebrate this blog’s 5th anniversary! 5 Years since that first post!

Videoconferencing with India

Cross-blogged with the Official MACUL Conference Blog.

This morning I had a nice turn out for my session on Instructional Strategies That Work with Videoconferencing: Global Interactive Collaborations. The main feature of our session was a connection to students in India who shared information and pictures about the famous temple in their town. I thought you all might enjoy some of the pictures from the students’ presentations and the interaction. The group had some excellent questions for the students. I had them do a KWL before the connection so we’d get higher quality questions. We also talked about Marzano’s strategies and how to use them to increase interactive in videoconferencing; and talked about logistics of videoconferencing and other resources.


Going Global

Are you following the K12 Online Conference? If not, at least take a moment to review Kim Cofino’s keynote presentation and the resources for “going global” that she has posted on her wiki. Great stuff, including many videoconferencing resources!

After you get your feet wet with that, browse through all the other great presentations posted this week and the ones that are coming next week!

Eco Conversations: Carbon Emissions

This morning we have another EcoConversations connection with Dowagiac Middle School and Westcliff High School for Girls in the UK.

The first presentation was from a group of students in the UK who shared how McDonalds (eating burgers) is making a negative impact on the rainforest and the environment: no recycling, litter, impact on health, and where the rainforest is cut down for raising cattle, etc…

Next our class presented about our community and what the students do for fun. They shared about the agriculture grown in our area. Then our class shared our the invasive species in our area.

Next another group in the UK shared about recycling and impact on environment.

Then, as Mr. Tsang said, “the business over”, the students asked each other questions. Here are some of them:

  • How many McDonalds do you have?
  • What kind of music do you listen to?
  • Two of the students in the UK sang to our students! That was a hit!
  • What kinds of food do you eat? What is your favorite food?
  • What’s your favorite subject?
  • What are you getting Christmas?
  • Are you on Facebook?
  • What grade are you in?
  • What’s your favorite sweets?
  • What time is it there? (This question never gets old in a videoconference!)
  • How many students are in your school? (1000 UK / 600 MI)
  • Do you guys think we have funny accents?

The students had a great time chatting and we are talking about setting up some more collaborations between our schools.