Connected classrooms are a wonderful way for students to discover that they are part of something much bigger than themselves. Students may understand statistics given to them on wonderful sites like 100people.org but they do not understand what those numbers truly mean. For example, earlier this year my students visited 100people.org in order to discover that no matter what faith a person has they are not truly in the majority on a global scale. They learned that a large portion of the world is not Christian as most of my students are, yet, when discussing Christmas celebrations around the world they did not understand that many countries do not celebrate Christmas.
One way to help make connections like this for children is through connected classrooms. Since I mentioned 100people.org I must note that they have a wonderful lesson plan for creating a world art project where students nominate a member of their community to profile in the art project. This lesson could work as a single classroom but could work much better as a connected classroom so that students can be sure to explain details in such a way that students from different regions of the world can understand the who, what, why, when of the nominations. It would also create a wonderful discussion between the two classes about regional norms and values.
The Global Read Aloud project is another great way for classrooms to connect with others. Global Read Aloud suggests books for teachers to select and discuss at a grade level that is appropriate for their students. The site is shared in groups on Edmodo where classrooms can link, set up Skype and post discussions with everyone in their group.
After seeing how much help making connections was available, on sites like 100people.org, Wonderopolis, Global Read Aloud, I was disappointed to see everything that I missed out on with my students and plan on making many connections the rest of this year and in the future.