Connect for Global Learning

 

The Global School: Connecting Classrooms and Students Around the World
By William Kist
(Solution Tree, 2013 – Learn more)

kevin-hodgsonReviewed by Kevin Hodgson

Read any educational journal or peek at the titles of books on the virtual shelves of most educational websites and it is clear that the trend of connecting classrooms to the world with technology is on the minds of many teachers and administrators.

But how do you get started with those connections and how do you make them meaningful for learning? William Kist provides some of the answers in his latest book, The Global School, by exploring a wide range of projects that have done just that. Kist shares his own insights from his role as an educational consultant, showcasing classrooms where the four walls of the physical space have been extended by the technological possibilities of the modern age.

global school hodgsonThe Global School is a practical guide, offering up teachers’ stories and lesson plans that range from bringing in more texts with international themes to expand the conversations of the classroom — to using wikis for students to create depositories of learning for the world — to participating in the ever-increasing range of online conferences for students and teachers.

In many of these stories, the conceptual framework of collaboration with others is a key consideration. Kist notes that as the world becomes even more connected, critical skills around working with others to solve inquiry questions, sharing information across the world stage, and finding areas of common interest with others from different cultures will be most valued.

Home & virtual schools, too

Kist wisely ventures into the areas of homeschooling and alternative schools. These families and students often get forgotten in the discussions around ways that technology is changing education. Homeschooled children, and those attending virtual schools for either part or all of their schooling for any number of reasons, are a key constituency when it comes to global projects, and I valued having their voice in the mix of this book. The concept of global connections should include everyone, not just those in traditional school settings.

I found The Global School to be a useful resource, not only for providing some practical advice for how teachers and home school educators can begin to engage with the movement to expand the walls of the schoolhouse but also for offering a sound rationale for this growing trend. Kist’s strong advice for teachers to become connected themselves and to explore and play in online spaces while reflecting on possibilities, if taken, may open more opportunities for students to become players on the global stage.

Kevin Hodgson is a sixth grade teacher in Southampton, Massachusetts, and is the technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. Kevin blogs regularly at Kevin’s Meandering Mind and tweets more often than is healthy under his @dogtrax handle.

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