Well grab a box of tissues if you decide to start with Denmark’s video “All That We Share” that Polly has under the resources to learn about global connections. In a succinct video, it demonstrates that everyone underneath it all has similarities even though we put them in boxes based on appearances. For the beginning of a school year or an icebreaker, this is a short, very perfect way to break down the barriers as well. And essentially, in our hyper-connected world, there are still barriers or misunderstandings, which is why I gravitated toward two of the resources including the Global Speed Chat using an awesome tech tool, Padlet, and the Slice of Life (SOL) challenge that two teachers began.
And the second activity, which I’m sharing with our teachers, connected with me in reading the teacher’s reason for creating the SOL challenge. It was simple. A student had responded to a prompt and shared how everyone was searching for his sister’s lost necklace and in the end, it was around her neck. And the teacher thought, how every day. I make this connection after I started a book group years ago with our school for interested students. It had a specific reading list and accomplished a specific task. And it started with reading a student’s college application essay that demonstrated how broad and how small our connections are. The student had escaped bombings in her native Bosnia as a child. And my husband was in Bosnia with the Army around this same time. I thought, how small a world that they could have met each other in that moment. One girl in a war-torn country and a man serving his country. Then I reflected on our student population and at the time we were still in Afghanistan, so even students “who never left home” in the United States still were connected to war in some way and I wanted to explore that. So we read fiction, nonfiction, a graphic novel, and a short story collection that the students then responded using the latest technology at the time (Museum Box, Voki to name two).
Ultimately, I think the exploration of global connections with others using Skype classroom or Global Speed Chat or Slice of Life is first to evaluate the students you have and how best to benefit them. For small districts in rural areas, the assumption would be many will likely never travel the world, so bring the world to them. And for those that are more international in nature, give them opportunities to think and act to better their native country or their newly-adopted one. And use stories like I Will Always Write Back or Far From Home to allow students to discuss the significance of making these connections rather than just forcing the connection.