Now that more schools around the world have access to the internet, teachers are eager to connect their students globally. Global connections not only increase engagement for students and improve social & emotional skills like empathy, but they also require students to improve communication skills like reading, writing, and digital literacy. Global connections can take your project-based learning unit to the next level! According to Andrew Miller, “PBL naturally connects to global readiness as it focuses on complex issues, problem solving, and taking action.”
Global connections aren’t just for social studies classrooms! There are relevant opportunities in every subject area to connect your students with their peers or experts around the world. Miller advises, “consider ways to create PBL projects where students engage in global competencies, or take existing projects and revise them to have that global lens or focus on global action.”
Start by thinking about problems in terms of local and global impact. For example, if you are planning a service project for your community, connect your project to similar efforts happening around the world. You can find some global project-based learning ideas here.
Here are 3 ways to support global collaboration through project-based learning.
Take your research global
As students build knowledge, connect them with peers and resources globally to gather information, make comparisons, and consider multiple perspectives. Here are some ideas to get you started!
When in doubt, start with Google. Not only can you find valuable and specific information, but Google Maps is a great way to bring the world to your classroom. Thanks to Google Street View, students can get a first-person view of places you are studying. Learning about ancient Greece? There are dozens of great resources available online, but you can also look up famous sites on Google Maps and explore! Studying the oceans? Google Street View makes it easy for your students to explore the coral reefs or compare oceans around the world.
Why limit your students to the news available in their home country? Connect students to major news outlets in other parts of the world for diverse perspectives on current events or global issues. You can find digital versions of popular newspapers, news networks, and magazines from countries around the world. For example, in PenPal Schools’ Race in America project, students are challenged to determine if diverse perspectives are represented in their local media and community by sharing local information with PenPals from around the world.
Social media is a great resource for educators and students. Teachers can use social media to find current events, trending topics, relevant resources, and classroom connections by searching for hashtags or following important individuals. In fact, Twitter is one of the best ways that educators around the world connect! Students can also use social media to connect with experts, show off their work, or conduct research. A class Twitter feed is a great way to share with parents, participate in Twitter chats, and send surveys or polls to a large, global audience. Check out the Twitter feed from PenPal Schools ambassador Paul Solarz’ fifth grade class for inspiration!
Global experts and resources
In addition to social media, there are many ways to connect with industry experts around the world. Nepris is a great way to connect your students with working professionals through video chat. Not only can your students get information and feedback from experts, but they can explore career opportunities around the world. As the largest global project-based learning community in the world, PenPal Schools is a great way to exchange perspectives and ideas globally. There are also many resources online dedicated to helping teachers learn about global issues. Some of our favorites include Asia Society, iEARN, UNESCO, and Global Dimension.
Collaborative tools make it easier than ever to create with peers around the world. To do this, you need to find the right connections and the right tools. One of the easiest ways to connect students with their peers around the world is through PenPal Schools where teachers from 150 countries enroll their students in online projects. It’s not just students who get to connect with global PenPals! Teachers can also search the PenPal Schools community to connect with other educators in specific countries or content areas.
Once you’ve got the right connections, you’ll need to find the best tools to collaborate. A lot of schools around the world use Google Suite for Education, and tools like Google Drive or Hangouts make collaboration a breeze. Our friends at Common Sense Education put together this great list of the best student collaboration tools.
Share with a global audience
Make the world your audience for project-based learning! A global audience provides your students with feedback from diverse perspectives. You can share student work on a class blog, social media feed, or website. Through video chats with classrooms around the world or tools like Flipgrid, video is also a great way for students to share work and get feedback. Or, connect with industry professionals to get feedback from the experts.
You don’t have to recreate the wheel in order to add global connections to your PBL units. Whether learning, creating, or sharing, global connections fit into any part of project-based learning. PenPal Schools makes it even easier to implement global project-based learning with ready-made projects and the world’s largest PBL community.
What are some of your favorite ways to connect students globally through project-based learning? Let us know in the comments below!
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Project-Based Learning for Global Readiness