Tag Archives: global connections

Saving the World w/ COETAIL

I had intended to share both my students’ collaborative projects  as well as the SIC work I have been doing with the teachers in my building. I had NO idea how short 10 minutes actually was to describe a project in-depth,  so I was forced to choose.  Although a tough decision, with the  kind guidance of COETAIL coach, Diana Beabout,  I decided to go with the student project for the video requirement of Couse V.

Feel free to provide feedback here.

No nos gusta el durián


Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.55.29 PMStudents shared one lie and two truths about their new amigo en Singapore. I captured some video of their presentations so I thought it would be nice to share it with our friends across the ocean. Having started a new iMovie project, I thought I’d capture our feelings on tasting the fruit durian as well. Not wanting our new friends to think we aren’t open to trying and appreciating new foods we added a video of roti prata which we’ve been told is absolutely delicious.

I’m continually amazed at the excitement my students have shown for their new friends in Asia. We will continue to communicate with this class in Singapore and we’ll be adding a new connection with students in Guatemala very soon. Later in the year, we hope to connect with classes in España and Perú.

Global Projects: Dream or Reality?

Sara and Turner working on their collaborative stories with their amigos en Costa Rica.

The excitement and possibilities of global projects makes me want to teach 5th grade. ( I currently teach HS Spanish.) My dream would be to turn my entire class into a global collaboration project. I would surely have to fly under the radar as 5th grade teachers in my public school have a few things on their plate. Common Core, Lucy Calkins, Benchmark reading program,  Everyday Math, NWEA testing (3 times a year), Units of Study, PYP Planners, a new Health curriculum, CMASS testing and DRA testing (3 times a day) to name a few.

I’d like to think I could make it work. We’d have an amazing year learning with and from people from all over the world. We’d all become more effective global citizens.

For the moment, I’ll be living my dream within my Spanish courses.

Connecting with students in other places has always been a part of our curriculum. Typical of most language teachers, I suppose. The excitement of different shaped envelopes arriving with cool looking stamps from pen pals in Mexico or Africa or Spain was (and still is) a big deal.

Recently, technology has made these conversations and connections a whole lot easier. I remember the first Skype conversation we had with a teacher from Turkey almost six years ago. I had first stayed up late to chat with her class and then she did the same with mine a week later. I was teaching English as an Additional Language at the time and both our classes learned a lot from each other.  I used to keep track of where and with whom we had these conversations on a wiki. I wish I had kept up with it over the years. Moving our connections to our blog and class wiki was more efficient for my fourth grade students. They connected with a class in Costa Rica and shared thoughts on politics, uniforms, music and school life.  The highlight was their collaborative stories and authentic conversations.

A few years later, there seems to be many more options for global projects. Kim’s step-by-step post is helpful in getting started. I’m looking forward to connecting my students even more this next year and hopefully have them solve authentic problems in the process.

Here are a list of specific projects and/or resources if you’d like to jump in.

I’ll be sharing the above links with the teachers in my buildings, hoping they see the importance of teaching their students to be global citizens and sincerely hoping they can fit it in under the amazing pressures of standardized curriculum and assessments.



Kiva for WL Classrooms

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I first used kiva.org as part of a 5th grade Exhibition years ago with just a small group of students. It then became my go to item for gifts such as birthdays and Mothers Day. It was more recently when I thought about using it to help students acquire Spanish, learn about other cultures, and solve an authentic problem.  My COETAIL Course Two reminded me of the power of connecting, leveraging the web, and then sharing the outcome.

So, this is the process by which my Spanish IV (DP I) class went about helping Edgar with his car, Brenda with her store and José with his farming equipment while acquiring Spanish in meaningful ways.

  1. Each student chose a Spanish Speaking country to investigate.  Next they…
  2. Researched two or three people to support.  Although in English, you can also VIEW ORIGINAL LANGUAGE DESCRIPTION which is just awesome.
  3. Chose a person or group to support.
  4. Created a two minute Elevator Speech as to why their person should be supported.
  5. Delivered the speech with a few pictures of the country, the owner and the purpose of the loan.  They used the subjunctive mood such as “It’s important that…”  “I want you to…”  and “I hope that you…” to make their case.
  6. The class took notes (en español) as to whom they liked best knowing they would have to cast a vote the end of all the pitches.
  7. Students voted at the end of class as to whom they would support.
  8. We then divided the class up among the top four winners.
  9. Each person in each group chipped in 2-4 dollars to add to the $25 loan amount.
  10. Once money was collected, each group officially made a payment toward the project.
  11. Each leader/winner also reported back to the class when the loan was paid back.
kelly kiva
Kelly proudly winning the honor of lending money to Santa Urbina.



A Motor, a Wedding, and Crossing the Border

Evan made a motor. It was so cool even though it didn’t work. Thomas saved money to send to his former surf instructor in Costa Rica to help pay for his upcoming wedding. Vivian taught us about different types of rice in Central America. Gerson took us through his journey from El Salvador to Colorado earlier this year.

Content for Spanish class this past month was not typical of most Spanish textbooks.

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Wolf’s karate class
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Kaitlin’s Fashion Blog

My students just finished up their 20% Time Projects. As reported in a previous post, this was my second round of projects.  Their results proved inspiring content and rich language for our class this past month.

Students chose passions and interests to investigate by which they were able to improve their Español, connect with others, and save the world.

  • Supporting nutritional organizations in Central America
  • Learning about the Bible in Spanish and reading stories from it to younger children
  • Teaching karate to Spanish Speaking students
  • Playing video games in Spanish with kids around the world
  • Studying fashion and design in Madrid
  • Skiing through Chile
  • Learning about the Spanish Guitar
  • Learning to play a song in Spanish


Student feedback

Wanting to know what my students thought of the project and not wanting to break into English, I sent them in the hall with another student who recorded their feedback in English. Here are a few examples of what they thought of the project.


My Reflection

My students’ oral proficiency in Spanish improved because I was able to provide relevant vocabulary I knew they were going to need prior to their presentations. They didn’t email me back,  it surprised me that,  and I had wanted to do… but changed my mind were common language structures we practiced and practiced before kids presented.  There are even a few more structures I’ll add to my list for next time like I could not find or I realized that Students (me included) also learned specific vocabulary tied to their topic and their interest.  This year’s group was more comfortable with sharing as we discussed and modeled delivery and design. The reading of slides was highly discouraged. I didn’t allow notecards, although a few students did bring up cards which I allowed reading the anxiety on their face. The biggest challenge for them was connecting with others.  Most students picked someone they knew or friends of friends as their connection.  I was hoping for more global connections or more specific communications with people specific to their particular passion. I get it. The concept of reaching out to strangers is difficult and even more so in a second language.  Next time I’ll spend more time on how and why to make global connections.  We’ll practice. I’ll also give more time for student-teacher 1:1 conferences so I can individually help students brainstorm connections with similar passions or interests.  This, however, is a challenge for me as class sizes seem to grow and grow but I think maybe offering online Google Hangout hours could be an option. Lastly, I’ll put a time limit (with a friendly bell) on the sharing.  Maybe something similar to a Pecha Kucha  (or shorter) because with classes of 30, it takes a while.  Some of my students felt comfortable going on and on. They were so darn cute that I didn’t have the heart to cut them off.

What successes have you had with similar type projects?





Voicethread for assessing language over time

After recently reading the Step by Step Guide to Global Collaboration, I was reminded of a project my students and I participated in years ago.  My 4th grade Spanish class in Colorado connected with a 4th grade class in Costa Rica.  Kids were paired together to create stories together using our wiki. As a way to get to know our buddies, we created a VoiceThread and my students talked about the others kids each student’s personal slide.

For example. Sammi’s favorite animal is a Lion or Carly’s favorite color is blue.

Lots of language practice while also building community.  We embedded the VT into our wiki and shared it with our amigos in Costa Rica.

DVE meets CDS (link to the VT if it doesn’t load)

Fast forward a few years.  Students are in 6th grade. I decided to use the initial VT to assess students language.  I added a current picture of the student and asked students to comment on each student as they did back in 4th grade.  Student loved seeing their previous pictures and listening to their voice samples. This year, I’m doing it again as this group (8th grade) moves to the high school next fall.  VT, already a fantastic collaborative tool, is also fantastic to capture growth over time. What tools are you using to track student growth (especially oral communication) over time?