Strolling Around the Earth Garden with Mike Griffith

Another global session with Mike Griffith. He started off with an email quote with his colleague Atsuku in Japan (not sure I’m spelling her name correctly). She said something to this effect regarding Mike – The world earth is a garden to him. He’s always strolling around the garden freely.

Mike has been doing the Global Leap project since 2000, and has been doing international projects for over 10 years.

He’s talking about a connection with students speaking English and French and how they were really struggling to talk to each other. Mike suggests instead that we show something – for example if you’re discussing soccer/football – bring the ball & show it! Then everyone knows what you’re talking about. And remember that you could take a digital camera out and get footage to share with your class.

Communication. Communication. Communication. Mike has three Tips & Tricks:

  1. Have a signature on your email! (He asked us how many of us have received an email we didn’t know who it was from!).
  2. If you’re working internationally, give the date in full: October 3, not 10/3/05 because not all countries use the same shortcut format.
  3. List your time/my time. Think about where people are and what time of day it is. If you go wider than 6 hours time difference, then the teachers have to be flexible in connecting to each other. Two good sites are and TimeZoneConverter.

Mike suggested that using technology to communicate is 4th world (vs. old world, new world, 3rd world). We need to be sensitive to the types of connectivity in other parts of the world in our planning.

He mentioned connections with the Imperial War Museum, an iEARN project, and a conversation between students about genocide.

Mike asks us: Is this important? Is it important to get classes to connect to talk to each other and understand each other? We have the technology that can bring kids to talk to kids & teachers to talk to teachers to help create greater understanding between cultures.

Dr. Stanton, the expert they interviewed in the genocide program said, “if we were all videoconferencing, there’d be no genocide.” Mike added, if we were talking to each other and understanding each other, there’d be no genocide.

Mike emphasized how in doing these connections, not everything needs to be done in the videoconference. Other tools and resources can be used to make the connection more engaging and rich.

Mike also reminded us to set the context. The classes need share pictures of their life with the communication so that we know what it’s like to live in that area.

Kathy Lewis shared a cool project with a class in Taiwan where the Taiwan class posted a newsletter online and then the U.S. class edited the grammar… this way both classes could practice English grammar.

The first link is easy to do – just comparing cultures and saying hello. But what is sustainable and of value? How do we create projects that are more in-depth and have specific curriculum outcomes? I asked, what topics are good to discuss & create projects around that take advantage of the international connection. Mike suggested – addressing stereotypes, learning to respect etiquette in other countries, etc.

This session ended way too soon!!!

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