In the last year, my classroom has begun to change dramatically. In December of last year, I was given a classroom set of iPads. I have been extremely impressed with the amount of creativity and collaboration that these devices have brought to my classroom. As we all know, each class is different and I am discovering that many of the things that worked for my class last year aren’t working as well this year and things that are working this year, didn’t necessarily work the best last year. My classroom this year consists of a room full of high-energy boys. This energy can be a blessing or a burden depending on how you handle it. I decided to take this energy by full force and filter it into learning. My class wants to learn, and they want their learning to be immediate and meaningful. Who doesn't? Right!
With the help of my colleague, Brent Catlett, this is starting to happen. Brent is the creator of http://eduhangout.org (#eduhangout) which encourages teachers to make connections with other teachers across the globe. Through this connection my class, as well as 3 other classrooms in the U.S. were given the opportunity to participate in virtual field trips through Google Hangouts. This event was the beginning of Google’s new community Connected Classrooms (#connectedclassrooms). As an educator, joining these communities is a MUST!
Our morning started with a visit to the Seattle Aquarium. My students in Nebraska were able to meet with marine biologists and learn about the changing seasons in the ocean. A scuba diver used an underwater camera to show them some of the marine life such as kelp, rock fish, and salmon. While doing this, the scuba diver would explain to them what she was showing them. I was amazed. I never thought my classroom in Nebraska would be echoing the sound of scuba equipment as we discovered that salmon use their noses to navigate home. The students learning was immediate and at their fingertips. Throughout the presentation, my students were able to share about the seasons changing in Nebraska and how it was similar to the life in the ocean. I couldn’t believe how much my students were learning in that short amount of time.
|Touring the NASA warehouse.|
This opportunity was amazing and brought so much learning into my classroom. The walls of my classroom are “falling down” as I speak. My students are anxious to explore the world and I’m anxious to guide them. Thank you Brent and Google for sparking the fire in my students and myself. Connections like these are what keep my students motivated to learn and I’m looking forward to making more connections across the world in the near future!