Meaningful Connections

Last week Kathy Cassidy’s session at Connect 2013 gave me a small piece of learning that really stuck.  The majority of her talk dealt with making meaningful connections with and for your class.   She talked a lot about sharing learning and making your class an open and inviting place.  She talked about extending your learning community beyond the walls of your class and school.

The piece that really stuck with me was the notion of expert. Her class are avid Skype users. According to Kathy, they’ll pretty much Skype anyone that can add to their learning.  ANYONE.  I’ve been thinking about that for the last two weeks. Yesterday I got a chance to use it.

My class had been talking about traditions and celebrations around the world.  We watched this great video where Matt Harding travels around the world and dances:

We mapped out as many of Matt’s destinations as we could.  It was awesome. The map that I picked up at the dollar store became every student’s favorite part of our room.  We had great conversations about where, why, how people dance around the world.  The kids came up with one major reason: “to celebrate”.  

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I then asked my class to write down which place they were most curious about.   Not surprisingly, Hawaii came up.

*NB – When Matt is in Hawaii he does a fire dance.  Fire dance = COOL

At recess I made a quick call to my dad (who had recently been to Hawaii) and asked him he’d want to FaceTime with my class.  He loved the idea.  We arranged a time for the next day.

When the class came back in, I told them that we were going to to get to talk with someone who had just been to Hawaii about how Hawaiians celebrate. We watched a luau video and wrote up some questions.

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I sent those to my dad (so he wouldn’t get caught off guard by random questions).  

The next day the kids got a chance to talk with my dad (via FaceTime)… and it was amazing.  The kids loved talking to him and my dad (who I swear in another life was a teacher) was on cloud nine.

Check out these testimonials:

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Kathy was so right.  Everyone has something to teach.  The more we can open our classes and model that to our students, the more we encourage kids to learn from the world around them.

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