Thing 32: Global Connections & Collaborations

globe and hands


When I was a kid (in the 1960s!), I had a penpal who lived in Germany. A friend of my mother lived in Germany and had a daughter my age who also wanted a penpal. We wrote letters for several years, and it was always exciting to get those exotic blue airmail letters and hearing about life in what seemed like another world. I am so grateful that my mother helped me discover the world of people and cultures beyond my small town life. A world of people and places I hope I never tire of exploring.
My point? When I was a kid, the only technology available to help make connections was the telephone and an overseas call was far to expensive to consider. So we wrote letters.
Today, our world seems so much smaller and so much more connected. We send messages around the world in a split second. We video chat with friends and family living overseas. And wonderfully, we can collaborate and share with colleagues across the world as easily as we can with those in the next town. And in a world with far too many conflicts, pain and suffering, technology affords us amazing opportunities to help our students develop curiosity about the world, empathy for others, and deeper connections with and understanding of other cultures.
There are so many different ways for classrooms to connect. Language students practicing their speaking skills with students in other countries. Social studies classes learning first-hand about other cultures. Using foreign news sources to examine different perspectives and biases. Science classes learning about the different climates and environmental challenges. And so much more.  In this lesson, we have ideas for helping you connect with other educators and ideas and opportunities for you to bring bits of the world to your students as well. The resources below are just the tip of the iceberg! Explore!

Getting Started

Global Collaboration Opportunities & Ideas 

  • EdChange Global Feb 28 2017 – “The 24 Hour online global event is coming February 28th-March 1st 2017. The sessions and challenges will run for 24 hours to accommodate any schedule across the globe. We are looking forward to classrooms collaborating around the world. Registration is open and the schedule will be available as facilitators/presenters volunteer.” You can also register to collaborate on a topic with other classrooms.
  • 2017 Global Student Conference on STEM + Entrepreneurship – March 4, 2017. Free online conference with presentations by students from around the world.
  • Global Speed Chat – A new activity is posted for each month. Students and teachers around the world post their response to the monthly activity. Check on the monthly activity Padlets to see responses from around the world.
  • QuadBlogging – Sign up to connect with 3 other classrooms to share writing and commenting on each others blogs.
  • If You Learned Here – Interesting project connecting a group of classrooms around the world, with several weeks of shared activities and learning. It’s too late to join this year, but the outline of activities is there and you replicate it on a smaller scale.
  • Slice of Life Writing Challenge –  “Adults, classroom teachers and their students across six continents participate in this weekly challenge as well as in the month-long challenge in March.”
  • epals – A safe way to connect with students and classrooms around the world. More info from EdShelf.
  • TeachUnicef – “TeachUNICEF provides educators with global learning resources and programs. Through a focus on global citizenship and child rights, TeachUNICEF engages students in an exploration of humanitarian issues and inspires them to take action to improve their world.”
  • From Astronauts to Zimbabwe – the A to Z of Global Collaboration – In this Feb 2017 webinar on Steve Sherman shares examples world travels “without the traveling” through technology-based student activities.

Professional Opportunities

  • Traveling this summer? Use twitter or other methods to connect with colleagues.  Take a day of your holiday to meet with colleagues. I’ve done this a number of times and many of the educators I’ve met with have become valued friends & colleagues.
  • ISTE Global Collaboration Network – “The Global Collaborations Network promotes digital technologies for connecting and collaborating beyond the classroom walls. The Global Collaboration Network offers best-practice curriculum design to embed global learning experiences into everyday teaching. The community shares tools and methods, curriculum developments, and opportunities for collaborations.”
  • For the librarians – The 2017 conference of the International Association of School Librarianship is in California this August. What a great chance to participate in an international conference without a huge overseas travel budget.
  • International Librarians Network – “The International Librarians Network (ILN) peer mentoring program is a facilitated program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. We believe that innovation and inspiration can cross borders, and that spreading our networks beyond our home countries can make us better at what we do”
  • Fulbright Teacher Exchange –  This program seeks to promote mutual understanding among teachers, their schools and communities in the U.S. and abroad. Short term (2-6 week) and long term (3-6 month) opportunities.
  • International Study and Overseas Teaching Resources – List of other international opportunities (National Education Association)
  • Global Education Conference 2016 Recordings – A fascinating list of presentations, lots of great ideas. “The conference seeks to present ideas, examples, and projects related to connecting educators and classrooms with a strong emphasis on promoting global awareness, fostering global competency, and inspiring action towards solving real–world problems.”
  • Twitter hashtags: #globalclassroom #globaledchat (Weekly chat transcripts)
We don’t have a huge list of tech tools to explore for this lesson, the tools you’ll need will depend on what type of project you decide to pursue.  The basic tools for video connections are: Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, FaceTime and other similar live video tools. And many of the other tools you’ve already explored will come in handy for sharing and connecting – Blogs, Padlets, Google Docs, etc.


  • Explore some of the resources listed above (and beyond!) and look for ideas you might bring back to your classroom or your own professional development.
  • In your blog post, share the resources you found valuable and why.
  • And share how you might implement a lesson for your students or pursue a new professional opportunity.


  • Write & publish your blog post.
  • Copy the URL for the post.
  • Return to the lesson page on the CanvasLMS site.
  • Use the SUBMIT ASSIGNMENT button in the CanvasLMS page and paste in your URL.

*Only for students participating in the workshop for PD credit hours through the Canavas LMS system.




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